Hide the cling film, banish the plastic food bags...
Updated: Jun 21, 2019
Is it fantastic? Well, in many ways yes… some could say we live in the Age of
Plastic – it is used to make so many things. Plastic has indirectly saved many lives – just think of plastic syringes, prosthetic legs, plastic water pipes.
Plastic is however also causing many problems for our world. You will probably have seen sad pictures for example of turtles entangled in plastic netting or beaches awash with plastic rubbish. Plastic is also hampering climate change efforts. If we keep using plastic at our current rate, by 2030, the annual carbon emissions related to plastics production will be the equivalent to nearly 300 new coal-fired power plants chugging out emissions – yes that’s 300 coal-fired power plants!
As Young Climate Warriors you are probably already cutting down on single-use plastic bottles. So the first half of your challenge this week is to ‘hide the clingfilm and the rolls of plastic food bags’… Do you know where they’re kept in your kitchen? Hiding them should mean that you and your family have to think twice before using them. (But don’t forget to let your parent/carer know where you’ve hidden them!)
The other half of your challenge is to think of ingenious ways to store your food without clingfilm and plastic food bags. You’ll need to be more inventive in the fridge and with your packed lunch – can you use a saucer to cover your leftovers, could you cover them with a clean tea-towel, can you re-use an ice-cream tub? what else comes in small plastic containers - what about re-using the soft-cheese or margarine container for your cucumber snack? Try not to be tempted just to replace the clingfilm with tinfoil – recycling aluminium is a very energy intensive process – with high carbon emissions.
With plastics it’s not just a problem of the carbon emissions from production and incineration (burning of waste plastic). Recent research is now suggesting that microplastics (plastic which is too small to be seen with the naked eye) are contaminating the plankton in the ocean, reducing the ability of the ocean to ‘store’ carbon. It is also becoming clear that as plastics degrade at the oceans’ surface they release methane and other greenhouse gases, making climate change worse.
When it comes to plastics, think REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE: the words are in this order for a very good reason, as REDUCING our use of plastics is the most effective way to reduce its impact on climate change and the wider environment.