Fighting Plastic Andrew Jenkins Talk

On the evening of Wednesday 29 May a modest number of Wendover residents gathered in St Anne’s Hall to hear a talk by the Waste Promotions Officer for Bucks CC, Andrew Jenkins. Not the most exciting event of the year you might think – but think again!

Not only was Andrew a very knowledgable and articulate young man but a real expert in the field of recycling and waste disposal who delivered a totally engaging 45 minute talk.
We were taken through what happens to our waste once it has been collected by the AVDC – a real eye-opener.

I think most of us imagine that it is cursorily sorted at the dump and then burnt or buried.Not so. We were shown the massive investment that our county has made in recent years and the meticulous sorting of rubbish by specially designed equipment the result of which is immaculately sorted waste which can then be sold on for recycling.

There is real value in what we recycle and we should do as much as we can and rather than regarding all plastic as BAD we should appreciate that our waste plastic properly recycled is a valuable and profitable material.

After the talk we were invited to ask questions and discuss our concerns. This was extremely helpful and put right a lot of misconceptions.

We touched on climate change and ways for the individual to make a difference and there was a lot that surprised me but one fact that stood out for me (as one who has almost eliminated meat from my diet) was this: If everyone had one meat free day every week the result would be better than giving up driving for that same day!

The Power of One (or – what can I do?)It is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the problems our planet is facing and sometimes we feel that the little things we do cannot possibly make a difference but the meeting convinced me that the care we take in sorting our waste is absolutely invaluable in making the recycling process as efficient as it can be.Here are just a few ideas that stayed with me and a few more that most people are already observing but worth another reminder.

A statistic: Every household makes on average 1134 kilos of waste per year. LESS than 1% OF THAT GOES INTO LANDFILL and that is entirely due to the efficient handling of our waste.

What else can I do?

Think about Lifestyle.

  • We have all got accustomed to the wealth of goods and opportunities we have in this century. For anyone born in the mid 20th century the change is staggering but it is human nature to seek improvement.
  • Huge numbers of us take it for granted that we can fly around the world for pleasure whenever we want but perhaps some adjustment to that expectation can also be seen as making a significant change and helping the planet.
  • The carbon footprint we leave when we fly long distances is enormous. We can pay to offset this but maybe consider – do you really need to take that long haul trip this year? Can you get to your favourite European destinations by train or ferry?
  • We all suffer from an overload of ‘STUFF’. Such tempting things in the shops and so much cheaper these days. Do we really NEED all this stuff? Tempting catalogues are pushed through our postboxes all the time ( wrapped in plastic of course) – so easy to sit down with a cup of coffee and browse. Before you know it you have bought something you didn’t know you needed.
  • With the huge influx of goods from the Far East ( eye – catching, attractive and CHEAP) it is easy to buy too much stuff. So how come we feel so good after a clear-out?

A few ideas to ponder ….

  • Don’t send good clothes to the tip – give them to our local charity shop. They even welcome the poor quality stuff.
  • Is there a baby in your life? Eco nappies are now easily available.
  • Plastic toys? There are other options.
  • Look out for ‘Fillable’ at our Local Produce Market. There you can refill your glass jars and plastic bottles and see inexpensive alternatives to storage problems. Lots of brilliant ideas presented by a truly enterprising young woman who has really committed to this enterprise.

On a purely personal note, I try to challenge myself each month to find other ways to make a difference. I emphasise that this is just for me – there is no judgemental element of others involved, but for me the time is right to do something more than just talk, so here are some ideas …..

  • If you like sparking water why not invest in a SodaStream. Brilliant product and the cost is quickly recouped.
  • We decided NOT to take a trip to Australia this year. It was purely for pleasure and I felt uncomfortable about the massive carbon footprint I would be making.
  • I seek out products that don’t hurt the environment such as Cheeky Panda loo paper sourced from sustainable bamboo and even the outer wrapper (looks like plastic) is 100% recyclable. Bamboo is a marvellous replacement for so many things previously made from wood.
  • Compostable wet wipes from Fillable or health shops. A bit more expensive but that makes me use them more sparingly.
  • If you like wine then buying it in boxes is not only a lot cheaper but makes half the carbon footprint of bottles. Also it lasts much longer once opened so no wastage. Great for large events and parties.
  • Litter walks. Alone or with friends, take a bag along with you and pick up litter.
  • Plastic plant pots. Some garden centres and nurseries (such as Askett) welcome returned pots.

So, in conclusion – It is a sad fact that meetings like this are attended almost 100% by mature people. There was only one young woman in the audience that night, but she made several very good points and was clearly not originally British. Interesting. The young are clearly concerned about the future of our planet but they communicate differently including Instagram and other social media not necessarily embraced by older people.

We need lots of Greta Thunbergs in this country to energise our young people. Maybe someone out there has suggestions of how we can do this. Don’t stay silent. Write to Wendover News – in fact whatever you have to say on this subject, this is the place to do it. Also, why not join the Wendover News Fighting Plastic Facebook Group, click here?

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