Tag Archives: reduce plastic

Is Plastic Recycling Greenwashing?

We all have household bins in our homes and local councils encourage us to recycle to a point where we are shamed for not recycling, especially when it comes to plastic.

As consumers, we are told and expect our plastics to be taken away and recycled into new packaging and this is a big reason many of us recycle where we can. We all want to do our best for the environment and we trust what we are being told.

But I do wonder whether plastic recycling is a form of greenwashing.

According to Greenpeace, “Thousands of tonnes of our household plastic packaging put out for recycling, as well as other kinds of plastic waste ends up in waste incinerators in the UK” and there is a lot that is sent overseas which ends up being someone else’s problem.

Something that has bothered me for a while is the marketing from big corporations, businesses and supermarkets on recycling…the responsibility has been placed solely on the consumer.

And they’ve been very clever with it.

If we, as consumers, don’t recycle, how can the big company actually recycle the single-use plastic? The responsibility has fallen on us but bears no mention of fixing the issue at the source.

Companies such as TerraCycle are trying to do what they can but even they have admitted in the past that it’s not really a solution to our plastic issue.

Over the last few years, more and more zero waste shops have been popping up in town centres and following a refill station trial at a store in Leeds, Asda have decided to roll it out to another four stores.

Source: Asda

I genuinely don’t know why it’s taking so long for supermarkets to catch up. It seems like they’re really reluctant to move with the times. It’s so obvious that giving consumers options like this will dramatically reduce single-use packaging.

I do think householders still should recycle but the key is legislation. The UK government introduced a 5p charge on plastic carrier bags, before the charge was introduced in October 2015, the number of plastic bags used was 7.6 billion bags, in 2019-2020 it was reduced to 564 million.

This is proof that government intervention really does make a difference but the UK government seem really slow to make a meaningful change to push the responsibility back to manufacturers and corporations.

There are certain foods like rice and pasta which are packaged in plastic. I really don’t know why and I can’t seem to find an answer. It shouldn’t be cheaper to buy a plastic bag of fruit or vegetables than buying loose fruit or veg – that’s insane but I still see it. Maybe teaching school children the basics on growing some of their own food would be a good idea, but I guess that’s not how businesses make money.

If you would like to get started with sustainable living, check out my 30-day eco challenge.

These are some ideas that work for me but may not work for everyone. Here are my terms & conditions for further reading

The Big Plastic Count

Last week, I took part in The Big Plastic Count.

The founders of this fabulous initiative is Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic asking households to take part investigating how much plastic is used for a period of one week – 16-22 May 2022.

By collating all this data, they can provide the government evidence that more needs to be done with tackling single-use plastic.

At the time of writing this blog, over 188k people had signed up and it wasn’t just households, schools, community groups and businesses we also included to participate.

The layout of the form is clear and it’s easy to identify where the information needs to be logged.

After a week, I was surprised.

I’ve noticed that the number of fruit and veg trays I buy is a lot more than I usually used to. I have recently kept an eye out and started buying more yellow sticker foods (reduced), especially fruit.

When the weather is really nice, I do prefer to eat more fruit but despite attempting to buy fruit loose, there are some fruits that you can’t buy loose; Strawberries, blackberries, green and red grapes.

I have a bit of a crisps problem! I love crisps but the empty packet…not so much! I have attempted to make my own crisps but I can’t seem to get the knack of it. They come out as if they’ve been sitting around for a week. yuk. I haven’t given up, though. I will keep trying to find something that works for me.

Bread bags is another one. I do have bread bags but I’m glad I buy most of my fruit without packaging so this figure was quite low.

All in all, it is a really good exercise to determine how much plastic we are using in our households and thinking about how it can be reduced.

I know it can be hard seeing the results and thinking that you expected it to be better. Remember, you are doing your best, which is a million times better than not doing anything at all.

I’m just about to submit my results, it would be great to see the results from this.

I realised this was similar to the household waste analysis I created quite a while ago, If you’re looking to start reducing your household waste, check out the free download

These are some ideas that work for me but may not work for everyone. Here are my terms & conditions for further reading

Green Blue Peter Badge

I recently had a major proud parent moment.

As a child, I absolutely loved watching Blue Peter. I will never forget the best make of all by Anthea Turner, Thunderbirds’ Tracey Island. I must admit, I wasn’t a fan of Thunderbirds but even I found it awesome watching this creation unfold on TV. We talked about it in school, watched other people fall over themselves trying to get hold of the instructions. It was HUGE! 

As a parent, watching my 6-year-old daughter watch Blue Peter is a real joy and reminds me of my childhood. After all, it is the longest-running children’s tv show on TV and inspires young viewers to go the extra effort to make things better. 

She mentioned a while back about wanting to do something to get a Blue Peter Green Badge so I looked online to see what she would need to do for a Green Blue Peter badge.

As an environmentalist, I make an effort to adapt my habits with the environment in mind and it turns out she’s been watching me and picked up a few habits. This badge centres around an environmental theme

She asked again if she could apply for one so I looked online to see the requirements.

The Pledges

Named Climate Heroes, there were three pledges she needed to do for at least a month; Power, Plastic and Plants.

Power – this one was to encourage children to save power; my daughter would always turn her nightlight off at the wall in the morning.

Plastic – reducing one piece of plastic from your lunch box. She has school dinners and takes a piece of fruit for a snack everyday.

Plant – planting something in the garden. As we are moving, I purposely haven’t planted anything this year as it could get damaged during the move so we sent in pictures of us litter picking (she asks to go litter picking!)

I filled in the online application, attached pictures and waited.

It was about four weeks later and this turned up in the post.

I can’t tell you who was more excited; me or my daughter. A major proud parent moment that I told anyone who would listen!

I think deep down inside, I had always wanted a Blue Peter badge but I was never encouraged to apply for one and watching her earn one for herself, I felt like she had achieved a dream of mine, as well as her own.

I strongly believe the key to slowing down climate change is education and one of the best places to start is with young people. After all, they are inheriting the planet from us.

What other badges are there?

Apart from celebrating your little one’s outstanding achievements, the other benefit of having a Blue Peter badge is that they get free entry to various venues around the country. 

There are other badges our little ones can apply for: the Blue badge, the Book badge, The Silver badgePurple Fan Club badge, Music badgeSports badge, Orange Badge, and the Gold Badge. What do you need to do to become one of many blue badge holders? Keep reading

Blue Badge – The Blue badge is the most iconic badge in the UK! We can’t be entirely sure how many have been awarded since launching in 1963, but we reckon the number is in the millions. All you need to do is send in an interesting letter or artwork, a poem, story, suggestion for the show. Just use your imagination. These will sometimes appear on the big badge wall on the show.

The new Book Badge – To apply for a Book Badge encourage your little to write in about a book they read; what they thought about it, their favourite characters, and maybe include a picture too. You can grab an application form from their website. 

The Silver badge – This very special badge is all about showing kindness to someone else, it could be a sick family member or someone in the community. 

The Purple Fan Club badges – This is for anyone who is a fan of the show, you can grab your purple badge form and apply for a badge

The Music badge – To get this badge, you need to tell Blue Peter about your love of music; if you play a musical instrument, how long you’ve played it for, and why you love it. Or even if you’ve just started to play a new instrument. 

The Sports Badge – Try a new sport for the first time, tell us about your experience and answer our sporty questions. Then send a photo, video or some artwork showing us how you got involved with your new sport and apply for your awesome new sport badge.

The Orange Badge – The orange badge is given to competition winners. if you’d like a change to get an Orange badge, check out the competition page

The Gold badge – this is a very special badge indeed. Gold Blue Peter badges is Blue Peter’s highest award and are awarded in exceptional circumstances; for unique bravery, courage or saving someone’s life. 

In October 2023, Prince William, Prince of Wales, was awarded a Green Badge in recognition of his work on The Earthshot Prize. This was to celebrate Blue Peter’s 65th Birthday 

Unlike when I was a child, we can now catch any missed episodes on BBC iPlayer and keep an eye out for a Blue Peter Competition and watch their favourite Blue Peter presenters. A few of their recent and former presenters have been Matt Baker, Abby Cook, Lindsey Russell, Henry, Radzi Chinyanganya and Joel Mawhinney

If you’re looking to start reducing your household waste, check out my free download

Updated November 2023