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When is living without plastic not living without plastic?

By Anthony Clark
Posted 14 February 2013

When I read that marine consultant Emily Smith, a resident of Bristol, had decided to give up plastic for Lent I had a strong urge to go around to her house and remove all the insulation from her wiring. “That’ll learn her,” I thought. “She’ll think twice about the value of plastics now!”

And then I read some more of her comments and it turns out that she’s actually only giving up some plastics…

“When I started thinking about it, I quickly realised that it is almost completely impossible to remove all plastic from your life. So I decided that I would focus on removing any single-use plastic items,” she told her local paper, which really shouldn’t being giving publicity to people like this.

“I have had to strip back my usual shopping list and start from scratch. A lot of the extraneous packaging comes from convenience shopping in supermarkets.”

Yes… let’s blame packaging. Let’s not blame the people who drop it as litter or fail to dispose of it in a way that means it can be recycled. So let’s put your bread in paper packaging, thus reducing its storage life. More lorry trips will be needed to keep up the stock of your reduced shelf-life loaf but we can forget about the increased carbon footprint that’ll produce, can’t we.

So here’s a fact, Emily… and one that might you think again before you pontificate on plastic.

Half of the food produced in India goes rotten before it makes it to market – that’s criminal, isn’t it. However, the adoption of simple packaging techniques – based around plastics – could dramatically cut that figure. Now if that’s not a good thing then I don’t know what is.

Emily, if you’re reading this, facts aren’t as tricky as they at first appear. Plastic packaging keeps food fresh for longer, it’s cheap and can be easily recycled. Yes, people dispose of it carelessly but that doesn’t detract from plastics green credentials.

PRW readers who want to find out more about Emily can visit her blog… just don’t be using anything made of plastic to access it though.


You can never hinder people to start speaking and acting before thinking.....Just let them realise the consequences of their actions and perhaps they (have to) change their mind.....

- 16 February 2013 - Leopold Katzmayer

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