Plastic that ends up in the ocean can cause enormous problems for sea life. Whenever I think about this topic I picture a turtle that’s ingested a plastic bag (it looked like a tasty jelly fish) starving to death because his stomach is full with the plastic bag. Even after plastic starts to break down (it does happen eventually) animals further down the food chain are affected by the smaller pieces.
Andy Warhol once said he was in love with plastic. So durable, so full of potential, everything just sliding off the surface. I could definitely see the appeal.
from Notes from the Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell (Pan Macmillan, 2006)
Plastics are extremely important packaging materials; specifically, they protect our foods from contamination and decay, they are cheap to produce.
I too make the most of the appeal of plastic (as much as I wish I didn’t) and to continue this, but not drown in an ocean of plastic, we need to re-use and recycle plastic. When I go shopping I use calico bags which I acquired when I worked in a public library. I prefer to use plastic bags for meat and frozen things because they sometimes leak and fruit and vegies because they have a tendency to roll away. I reuse these plastic bags, so I have to remember to take them with my calico bags when I shop. I can only re-use these plastic bags a few times before they start to get holes, but then I use them for bin liners (putting a piece of paper against any holes is enough to stop it while I fill the bag). I don’t want to pay money for bin liners (and their extra packaging) when shops in Perth are happy to hand out plastic bags for free.
I buy too many things in plastic containers and just like glass bottles and jars, I try to re-use them, but there is a limit to how much storage junk you can collect and when that limit is reached, recycling comes into play. For quite some time I’ve thought that my local council’s Single Bin Recycling system did not recycle plastic, and although I put all my plastic waste in the single bin, I thought it went to landfill. After recently looking at my local council’s website, they do say they recycle some plastics, so perhaps I’ve been wrong (or they’ve changed what they recycle). And before I put the plastic rings from bottles and jars in the bin I cut them up because a whole ring is just the right size to strangle an animal. If they’re recycled this shouldn’t be a problem, but I still do it.
Twice a year the council does a bulk rubbish collection where you put out large items eg. furniture, appliances, toys, general junk, etc and they are removed (out of sight, out of mind). This is also the time for the neighbourhood to patrol the streets, looking for free treasure. When I lived in a share house with Josephine, she was the queen of finding the treasure from bulk rubbish collection. Our sofa had two sides at right angles and was found on the side of the road. It was just covered in dog hair and had some stains. All it needed was a thorough vacuum and to be covered in blankets. It was a very comfy sofa.
The flyer for the most recent bulk rubbish collection said pile plastic items separately for recycling. I thought, “Wow the council recycles plastic now.” I filled up a big plastic bag with all the plastic bottles we’d used that week, even though you weren’t supposed to put out household waste. I considered saving up all my plastic bottles for six months till the next bulk rubbish collection, but after realising they do recycle plastic weekly, I won’t have to.