Monday 16 July 2018

Mary Kenny: The cost of throwaway culture

Plastics were a fabulous invention - but now they're choking the planet

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

So here's the new villain in our lives: plastic. Every time we pick up a takeaway coffee in its plastic container - and, even worse, with a plastic lid - we are contributing to the agonising death of marine life in the oceans. Whenever you purchase a bottle of water in its plastic container, you are adding your own little bit to the 8.3 billion tonnes of waste plastic floating around the globe, most of it accumulating from the past 15 years.

And look at the kitchen! It's enough to give David Attenborough clinical depression: that plastic squeezy bottle of washing-up liquid and the many other plastic containers of cleaning materials; the Tupperware in the cupboards; the cellophane, cling film and the garbage bags; the milk, butter, yoghurt, bacon in the fridge, all within container plastics.

It's said that much of this everyday plastic will last for between 450 years and forever. "It cannot be thrown away," mourns Sir David. "It does not go away." Discarded plastic may eventually turn up in global litter-dump sites in poor countries like Bangladesh and the Philippines, or in the oceans, where plastic strangles the digestive tracts of aquatic creatures, including turtles and birds.

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