Each of us knows that global warming is rapidly reaching ‘crisis mode’, but what are we doing about this mounting gloom? While it is easy to turn a blind eye, the right thing to do is to take an interest in arresting the problem and reversing the trend. One effective way to start is by consciously using anything but plastic carrier bags while out shopping.
Taxing the Source
Back in 2015, the introduction of a 5p carrier bag levy resulted in a massive saving in the need for plastic carrier bags. That move nudged the populous in the right direction that saw a whopping drop of 93% per cent in the need for plastic in the shopping context. This, as compared to the pre-2015 usage of plastic bags.
As the levy doubles during 2020, the expectation is that shoppers will respond in an equally enthusiastic manner. This bodes well for the level of plastic pollution around our stressed landfill sites across the country. It illustrates how simple insights from behavioural trends can lead to new societal norms.
Wait: Much More Can Follow
We can achieve so much more. We could introduce pilot levies on disposable coffee cups, for example, while shielding smaller coffee shops from their wealthy multi-national cousins. Drinking straws form another massive threat to the environment as these single-use villains inevitably end up in our rivers and oceans. It is all down to mind-set and a clear understanding of the objectives.
Overly complicated regulations from government do not help. The decision makers at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA for short) seem to have experienced difficulty interpreting EU guidelines on recycling. This has led to a lack of rollout. If officials are perplexed, where does this leave the average citizen when it comes to effective disposal and recycling?
Introduce a General Plastic Levy
Introducing a generalised plastics tax may prove a smart deterrent levy. Plastic and packaging discards are reaching insane and unsustainable levels. Let us not forget the carbon emissions that found their way into the atmosphere while producing these petroleum by-products in the first place. Few of us would have a problem with plastic-wrapped food products costing 10p more. Perhaps the alternative brown paper bag wrapping may gain some appeal as a compostable organic bag option?
Do you even know about them? Nearly 60 recycling symbols exist, but few among us seem to know about them. While some councils will accept virtually any recyclable discards, others are more selective. Some may ask you to place your rubbish in a standard-issue recycling bag, while others require precise separation. Often, you may need to make the effort to drive to special recycling centres and fine-sort your discards.
Getting it Wrong
For many decades, emerging countries have accepted billions of tons of landfill rubbish from more prosperous countries. This income stream no longer exists because the receiving countries are now on their feet and have no further need for our discards. This puts the challenge back to the source of the problem, which in turn demands a re-think across the board.
The choices are few in this age of awareness, and an ever-expanding population not forgetting carbon emissions. We have to think smart, and this begins with strategic government policy on the subject of pollution controls. It has to be a top-down response because if it is not, we could be all doomed! The choice is yours, start recycling correctly now, or condemn future generations to a hard life.
Let’s not select the wrong permutation!