Barbara Echlin writes:
Some items are easily recycled – , such as the plastic bottle of drinking
water, but the sheer number of them we are using is mind-blowing. In London alone the city’s population consumes a staggering total of around 7.7 billion bottles per year. Plastic bottles make up 10 per cent of all litter found in the Thames, and the impact on river life is dire: three quarters of flounder swimming in the Thames were found to have digested plastic.
Borough Market has been trying to clean up its systems and none of the rubbish they produce goes to landfill. They recently decided to go plastic-free and that meant phasing out the sale of plastic bottles of water. Their first step was to introduce three new drinking fountains. As you can see from the picture they are different to the drinking fountains some of us will remember from our youth. One of the three spouts is for filling up your own bottle. The others are for adults and children to drink from direct. They plan to have refillable bottles made from recycled plastic available to buy from stalls around the market.
Another memory from childhood was collecting a couple of pennies for returning glass bottles to shops. The Scottish Assembly are planning to launch a similar scheme. Other parts of the world never stopped the practice. About half of all beer brewed globally is sold in returnable glass bottles. The proportion of beer sales in returnable bottles differs significantly by market, even in the same region. In western Europe, for example, 62% of sales in The Netherlands are in returnable bottles, while in the UK it is close to zero.
In July our government announced the latest figures for single use plastic bags in England. Since supermarkets were banned from issuing free plastic bags usage is down by 9 billion – or 83% – from 2015-16. Hopefully the scheme will be extended to smaller retailers. Reducing use of plastic is preferable to recycling every time. And one thing leads to another. As John Polhill writes in ‘Eggs and Ashes’ published by Wildgoose.
Living God Where there is waste, let us bring recycling,
Where there is recycling, let us bring reuse,
Where there is reuse, let us bring sustainability,
Where there is sustainability, let us bring justice
Where there is justice, let us bring love.