I have been meaning to write about reuse and recycle, practical tips from following it but I would not know where to begin, and so today, The World Environment Day, I decided to start it. One reason for hesitancy is from having known so many people who do so much more in terms of reuse, recycle, living with less. There are always people who do more. The lodestars. And plenty who do not care, or do not know or may be, rarely, do not have an option. So here is to begin, to care.
I also thought to categorise it and not write everything at one go. And we will move from small measures to bigger challenges.
- Living: around the home
I will focus on subtopics for each and add if needed.
My two fundamental beliefs that guide me are these. One, some of our larger global focus, policy, the way we vision economic growth, and look for solutions needs to change. Else, even if the entire humankind reuses and recycles, it would not make any significant dent. Two, some polluting agents, like plastic, has critical necessity in certain uses. A very small quantity as compared with its current omnipresence. Plastic is a typical example of how convenience takes over to that extent that we do not see the damage it is causing even if its right in front of our eyes.
With that, lets look at what I have practiced and whether it will work for you.
Continued on 8th September (three months! I should have written this earlier)
Elaborating further on the areas where a substitute for plastic will be near impossible to find.
With a little bit respite in the spread of the virus, we resumed our annual health check-ups. These spaces and its procedures have needed to wrap everything and themselves in plastic. This does not have a substitute. In order to santise and remove any possibility of infections, hospitals have to do this. This is the most critical need of plastic, in hospitals. I guess if we seriously took up R&D, we may find alternatives. May be a mapping can grade the criticality. But right now, there is no substitute.
Besides this, most other use of plastic can have alternatives. It may not be as easy as plastic to use or to produce, but it will be worth finding them. There is no doubt on that.
Some general thumb rules.
First things first. Carry an extra bag, always. Even if you don’t think you are going shopping. That’s exactly when our eyes spot freshest fruits on the road side and we are tempted to buy. There are plenty of choices of bags that can be folded and kept even in your pockets. It’s a must to avoid single use plastic. Must. Non-negotiable.
Buy larger packets if you do not have a budget constraint. A 5kg packet uses less plastic as against five 1 kg packets. The 5kg packets can be reused to hold small plants for you. They are also easier to segregate for recycling purpose.
Buy glass bottles. These may be slightly expensive, but once you have a glass bottle, you can then buy the refill packs. The glass bottles can be used for many purposes especially if you remove the label (soak in slightly hot water and scrub the glue under the label). They can even be used like flower vases. My husband nostalgically remembers when in his first job, he shared accommodation with batchmates, they used the Nescafé bottle of that time which came with a wide mouth, to drink, water and etc. Also, next time you have to give something you cooked to a neighbour or a friend, without expecting your Tupperware to be back, and instead of the hotel plastic takeaways we get, give it in a glass bottle. I can guarantee it will be appreciated. And don’t worry that glass will break or kids will drop it. They don’t. Once in a while someone will break a glass thing. Its just how it is. It’s still way better than sending loads of plastic to the landfill.
Some of the smaller stores are happy to use containers if you bring one. It’s a little bit of extra work but a great opportunity to reduce single use plastic or things that go into landfill straight. For example, if you buy fresh chips from those hot-chips places. Carry the container in which you keep it and they are happy to use it. If you got those grey coloured eggs cases (please avoid the ones packed in plastic), they can be reused over and over again. Just use a rubber band to hold it together. By the way, one of the ingredients which is used to make these grey coloured egg cases is water hyacinth pulp. Water hyacinth invades our water bodies. It’s a big environmental challenge, so using them to make products, and offer employment and income in the process is a big positive deal.