So, we are all agreed. The single use plastic has to go. The government says it. Business says it. ‘The public’ says it. The wheels are in most definitely in motion.
For those of us working in an office, in the consumer world, this issue surrounds us constantly.
On a weekday work trip to London, unable to carry pre-prepped food with me as I already had a laptop and bag with the day’s essentials, I was gobsmacked at how much packaging I threw away throughout the day as I just fed myself. Boxes from sandwiches with plastic film, wrappers from snacks, coffee cup (had forgotten mine, slapped wrists and shame!), there was a lot. I sat on the train there and back full of earth guilt, disappointed with myself for not making more of an effort.
In our communal office kitchen (shared with other small businesses), there is a recycling bin and a non-recycling bin. A quick look inside reveals most of the bits we’ve put in the recycling bin can’t actually be recycled, and a quick chat with the office manager shows that when at work at least, people aren’t actually that keen to do it! Despite clear signs on the bins, most of what is put in there doesn’t qualify as recyclable. And in our actual office, we have just one type of bin. So the multitude of plastic bottles and food packaging we use throughout the day aren’t actually being recycled either!
It’s a symptom of the speed at which we live and work isn’t it? We eat on the go. We drink on the move. We want things fast and we expect to get them. We’ve got work to do, and limited time to do it, and there isn’t much time for prepping food from scratch, or even washing up all the Tupperware it uses.
And therefore, whose job is it to sort it out? We all want to see the change, and businesses in our world – supermarkets, food producers, packaging designers are falling over themselves to try and push this forward, but this comes down to what we do all day, not what is forced on us. There is a lot more personal responsibility to this than the media reports would have us believe. If we aren’t even popping the right things in the recycling bin, the message isn’t really hitting home is it?!
Here in the office we are investigating ways we can do our bit, but with a real impact. Get rid of the waste paper bins perhaps, suggest ways to encourage more effective recycling, provide initiatives and information for people to think about how they can do it. Maybe if everyone felt more personally involved, we could really make a difference, rather than waiting for others to do it for us.