War on Plastic

I was really pleased last week to see that the BBC had produced another episode of War on Plastic, with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Anita Rani.

I found the programme both encouraging and depressing. It is frustrating that big corporations and governments seem so slow to make changes. And yet positive change was demonstrated. It showed that as individuals we can make a difference. 

In the previous programme, viewers were encouraged to take action by returning single use plastic packaging to supermarkets. This seems to have had some impact. Sainsbury’s for example has aligned prices of loose and wrapped produce – it’s no longer cheaper to buy your carrots in a plastic bag! Tesco also talked about their new Loop service, delivering produce in packaging for return and reuse, made from glass or metal.

This programme focussed on sandwich packaging and tea bags. 

Most examples of sandwich wrapping have a plastic window but, less obviously, also have a plastic lining. This makes recycling almost impossible. This section went on for a long time with no real solution…

Several makes of teabags were investigated. All were found to contain plastic. Shockingly, Starbucks teabags are 100% plastic. Pukka Clipper and Teapigs seem to be plastic free but at present all need to be put in the council food bin rather than home composting. 

A section on Covid-19 was added as the rest of the programme had been filmed earlier in the year. The presenters were horrified about the proliferation of disposable masks and gloves and the impact they are having on sea life. The overuse of plastic packaging was also raised. It was made clear that plastic is not a safer option. In fact the virus lives longer on plastic than say cloth or paper.

I was really interested in the story of the family from Berwick trying to go plastic free. They tried homemade crisps, toothpaste, and oat milk. They changed from cat food pouches to tinned and discovered a zero waste store locally. 

They had been concerned that these changes would be costly to do. However it was revealed that they could save over £800 a year! The mother said “I suddenly realised I had to change my mindset about what we were buying.” She decided to buy what was available plastic free rather than rigidly sticking to the same shopping list each week.

Did you watch the programme? What did you think? 

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