Did we ask for this?

Do you ever wonder how we came to have so much plastic in the world? Like when did consumers ask for this?

I grew up on an estate that had a row of shops around the corner, and on it was a newsagents/post office, bakers, angling shop, chip shop and a green grocer. Now the green grocers went out of business as supermarkets grew. Our buys were placed into paper bags, where the calculations were handwritten on the bag. It seems like overnight big businesses went overboard with plastic packaging and I can’t understand why.

On a similar note, if you went to a cafe, you were served a hot beverage in a ceramic mug and a cold beverage in a glass. Flasks and Tupperware were in existence, it was the late eighties/early nineties, not the 1800s, and people were questioning the use of polystyrene cups for takeaway beverages. I just sometimes wonder how we got to paper cups with a wax lining, and how cafes and restaurants are suddenly being seen to have introduced something innovative by going back to the ceramic and glass, and not readily handing out straws.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, plastic does have its place, but I cannot understand why consumers have become the scapegoats. Ultimately, manufacturers and big businesses made that decision. Plastic made oil industries richer, and was a solution for cutting down trees. But was it really? There is a tonne of paper waste that could be recycled into plastic bags or toilet paper. More trees don’t need to be cut down, or where it’s absolutely necessary new trees could be planted to create sustainable resources. I’m pleased that there are less plastic bags finding their way to oceans, but why in the UK is it the law to charge 5p for a plastic bag – was a plastic bag ever needed or requested? No.

Whilst I welcome those using a reusable cup in a coffee house being rewarded by a cheaper price, or more loyalty points, this doesn’t resolve the issue on paper cups with a wax lining being mass produced or becoming waster after one use. I don’t think consumers should be taxed though. Instead, why don’t coffee houses charge a deposit that could be made on a travel cup, which is refunded if customers bring the cup back? Would this then encourage take away eateries to do the same? Hopefully.

There are solutions out there, they’re not particularly innovative but they would make a huge difference.

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