I’m packing again! This time for a couple of days of alone time in an Air BnB near the Suffolk/Norfolk coast. Each year my daughter sings with a national choir somewhere around the country and I get the opportunity for a couple of days in the same area. I usually go with no agenda at all, but this year I have unfortunately got some essays to finish for my Masters and some planning to do for work. However, I intend to spend sometime on Aldeburgh beach.
One of the things I do find tricky when I travel (especially if I go abroad) is remaining zero waste. We discovered in Crete that there was absolutely no opportunity to recycle. I was thoroughly ashamed at the amount of waste we produced in two weeks as a family of 9. It was mainly food packaging, but there were also leftover sun cream bottles, wine bottles, and some food waste. I don’t know how to resolve this when you visit somewhere with minimal set up for this. In the UK, with a car, I could take it to a recycling bank or home, but the rubbish in Crete was actually an eyesore: We’d take our rubbish to the local bins which were always overflowing. People were fly-tipping everywhere. It was the one huge issue for me. I had reduced what we brought as much as I could, obviously my own travel wash bag is pretty much zero waste, but shopping was tricky. We did go to markets and we used the local bread man and we also took our own shopping bags when we went to the supermarket, but there is ALWAYS going to be an issue that you don’t have your own pots to fill (if there is even a place to get them refilled).
So where am I going with this, well, in reducing our plastic waste and going on this journey, I am constantly hitting walls I need to get over. Today I realised that the serum I use in my hair is almost out. I need to refill the jar. Zero waste stores are doing an excellent job with shampoo/conditioner, but we’re still lacking the choice. I guess, if anyone has a recipe for an excellent serum that they use that won’t leave my hair looking greasy or like I’ve just washed it, I’d love to have it, alternatively if you can send me links to hair products that come in glass or aluminium please? I know the hard core environmentalists are probably screaming at this post inside; screaming that I don’t even NEED hair products, but and this is an issue that was brought to light by my son the other day:
If we are going to get Joe Public to reduce his/her waste and use alternatives as a normal matter of course, we need to make this ‘easy’. Society has, for far too long, been on a trajectory of convenience and need – here’s a thought; in 1980 my mum thought that the best thing out there were microchips. They saved her many times after she’d done a full day’s work, taken two girls to their swimming lessons and finally rolled in the door, exhausted, at around 9pm, only to start again the next morning. She had been brought up in a culture of make your own everything as a girl, she then was encouraged to go back to work as that was what women were moving towards (my grandmothers stayed home)…from this came the need for convenience. Plastic industries found their niche. Microwave meals, products to make our lives better, quicker and easier. Now we have to ‘unlearn’ this in order to slow down the catastrophe on our doorsteps. But, we can’t just go cold turkey over night: Products we use and think we need must be available in alternative packaging, alternative packaging (especially unpackaged goods) must be available at the same or lower cost. Items also need to be readily available. Many people I speak with on this subject say that ‘going to the market each Saturday or driving 40 miles to the nearest refill place’ just isn’t feasible in their over busy lives. It is a huge catch 22.
Buying something without the packaging can, in many circumstances, cost more than the basic ranges in supermarkets. Where’s the incentive to even try? My son, an international development and geography student bemoans the fact that for him to shop on his student money, he’d need to travel into the city (a bus fare and carbon emissions) and buy his stuff from the city markets (which is incredible by the way) or a zero waste shop in the city which is far more expensive than the budget range from Morrisons. He isn’t a student with his eyes closed either, he cooks from scratch and is quite staunch in what he does or doesn’t buy and what effect it has on the environment. Does anyone else feel that we are just not moving fast enough with getting big companies and supermarkets on board with this??
I know the whole matter is incredibly complex, it’s not no waste = lower cost; I’m aware that independent shops doing this are struggling with extortionate rents and overheads to provide this for us, they also want to provide the best quality, not budget ranges, they have probably invested not only personal capital but mental capital into it and it isn’t just a business it’s their lives, they have a lot more to contend with than a conglomerate. But it is frustrating as hell that our younger generation are still a long way off being able to afford to do something as simple as buy without in order to ensure they have a future planet to live on. There is absolutely NO blame for the indy shops with this, they are trying their damndest to repair a huge mess. This is the fault of so much higher up the chain with people with ££ in their eyes and the thoughts of their place within the next election only. Come on you can do better than this!!
So today, while the planet burns in the Amazon … oh yeah, did you see that? No? Bet you saw that Trump had a hissy fit when those nasty Danes wouldn’t let him buy Greenland though (OMFG!) we are still finding many carpets (with plastic fibres) to push all this underneath. I urge you, if you can, donate to a charity such as Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace. Find a great zero waste blogger or instagram account to follow if you’re on a journey. Read my post on starting small, doing it one step at a time. We ALL have to do something, you, me, politicians and billionaires alike. Take a little step – remember what Neil Armstrong (allegedly) said “That’s one small step for man, that’s one giant leap for mankind”.
Rant over! x