Welcome to Day 10!
Firstly, did you watch War on Waste last night? It provided an eye opening follow up to our Day 8 post on plastic bags. Firstly, plastic bags in biodegradable bags are really not much better than regular bags. They simply break down into smaller particles, which make it more likely that our wildlife will mistake them for food. Plastic bags in any form are not the answer.
It also turns out that the plastic bags in the recycled Coles bins are not recycled here in Australia but flown overseas to be processed into plastic pellets, which are then reconstituted into recycled plastic. The bags in the Woolworths bins? It’s unclear whether they’re not just going to landfill.
Meanwhile, flying our waste to Indonesia and China is creating a pretty big carbon footprint, and what are the conditions like for the workers who have to sort through it when it gets there? Here’s a preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0Kif9cugQ0
So with that sobering thought, let’s move on to today’s focus on:
~ Plastic bottles ~
Right up there with plastic bottles is bottled water. Here in Melbourne we have some of the highest quality drinking water in the world, so why do we still buy bottled water, particularly when most of the production cost is just going towards the packaging and the packaging itself has been?
I’m going to speak to for myself, since I have bought bottled water: convenience. I don’t have a bottle with me, I’m thirsty, I want to hold on until I get to my destination but I’m too..parched…need..water…
So I buy myself the bottle, thinking, it’s ok, I’ll reuse it, but then I start feeling uncomfortable about the PET toxins I know are leaching into the water through the bottle, and the bottle itself starts getting smelly, so I recycle it. It’s ok, right? I’ve recycled it!
The first thing to point out is your lid cannot be recycled. So you need to discard that into your garbage bin.
Now, the bottle.
What happens to a lot of plastic products is that they are not so much recycled as downcycled. This means that they are made into a lower grade plastic which, once it’s used, can NO LONGER BE RECYCLED.
At this point, I’d like you to take another look through your recycling bin audit and consider the possibility that the end of the line for all your plastic bottles could be landfill.
Up until a few weeks ago, this was new information for me. I learnt this by listening to this Ted Talk by Bea Johnson.
Like anyone for whom this is new information, it came as a shock. I tried to avoid packaging on principle, but I justified buying bottled drinks because I knew I could recycle them.
Knowing what I know now, I have to re-evaluate. Luckily, there are other options:
- Buy yourself a lovely BPA free water bottle, one that meets your needs, be it for weight, size, or design. You’re going to bring it everywhere with you, so invest the time into selecting something that you’re going to want to use and display daily. Many of our choices are about solidifying our identity, and if your water bottle is going to be a permanent accessory, you want one that you’re proud of.
- If you find yourself stuck without your trusty bottle, buy your liquids in a glass bottle. Glass can be recycled back into bottles or jars, so it’s a much better choice because it has a closed loop recycling system.
- Consider what you are buying in plastic bottles. Why are you buying them? Do you really need these items? If not, what’s the alternative?
My plastic bottles contained juice, a smoothie and a lemon myrtle drink I bought when I was feeling a bit sick. My alternatives could be actually purchasing fruit in lieu of a juice (which I know is a healthier option anyway because it is less concentrated), buying a blender so that I can make my own smoothies, and making my own tea. Having done my neighbourhood reconnaissance on Day 5, I know there’s lemon myrtle growing along a nearby fence line, so that can be my go-to medicinal tea – it’s free, I don’t have to walk as far as the supermarket and once I’m done it will go straight into the compost. Now that’s closing the loop!