One of the statements that we often hear people make is ‘I don’t create any waste’, and as much as it would great if this were true, it obviously isn’t otherwise we wouldn’t be in the situation that we find ourselves in today. This statement is the result of people not understanding what waste really is and mistakenly thinking that generating waste is part of everyday life and something that is beyond our control.
We all create waste (some more than others) but what we don’t always realise is the cumulative impact of our waste altogether. If one person thinks as they put in the bin, ‘it’s only a half a loaf of bread’ here and ‘it’s only one glass bottle’ there then by the time everyone in Scotland thinks like that you are already talking about approximately 5 million half loaves of bread and 5 million glass bottles!
There are always steps we can take reduce this waste and ideally eliminate it all together. Whether this is by reducing food waste, reducing the amount of packaging you purchase, reducing the amount of unwanted mail you receive through your door and by making sure that if the materials you do use can’t be reused, you recycle them at every opportunity.
The power of campaigning is to bring individuals together to think as one and to take action. A couple of excellent recent examples are Plastiki, the boat made from 12,500 plastic bottles, which completed its 8,000 mile journey by arriving in Sydney last week. The purpose was to highlight the amount of plastic waste in the oceans; one area called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is thought to be about twice the size of Texas, while plastic waste is also estimated to kill 1.5 million marine animals each year. At the other end of the scale pupils from a primary school in London built a 7ft paper tree using junk mail to highlight all the unwanted mail their families receive in the post. As over a third of all direct mail is discarded unopened (Direct Mail Information Service 2006), we shouldn’t just accept this is the way it is but do something about it. As you can see by joining together and looking at the bigger picture you get a greater sense of how one person, one family or one business can play their part.
If you’re having trouble convincing the decision makers in your workplace that you should be recycling, why noy try a bit of campaigning of your own? You could ask colleagues to save up over the course of a week all of the materials they use which could be recycled so you have a visible picture of all the resources that are being wasted.
Whatever it is you decide to do, don’t be fooled into thinking that one person or one small business won’t make an impact or make a difference, as it most certainly will.