Getting rid of plastic is a noble and necessary aim, and I wouldn't say a word against it. But I am fed up to the back teeth with articles like the ones currently running in the Sunday Star Times.
First, some poor woman flagellates herself about her reckless use of plastic. She then gets ticked off by a righteous greenie, who tells her how to mend her planet-destroying ways.
She mustn't use the insinkerator to get rid of kitchen scraps because it wastes gallons of fresh drinking water. Yes, that's true, it does, and I've stopped using mine (smug expression) for that very reason.
But that still leaves the problem of what to do with the smelly stuff. (Let's just note in passing that the more fresh food you cook at home - as recommended by that very same greenie - the more smelly stuff you have to get rid of.)
A compost heap is of course the ideal - and we did faithfully compost for years. But moving to an urban infill townhouse (again, greenie-recommended) with a tiny garden has put an end to that. So we put it in the rubbish, and to do that without ponging out the kitchen, we - like the hapless woman, in this case Rose Hoare - line the kitchen bin with a plastic bag.
Shocking, I know. So what does the greenie recommend instead? A worm farm - "perhaps on a balcony?" I have heard this "solution" before, and I have news for you: as the only alternative offered where compost is impractical, it is not going to be widely adopted. Ever.
It is simply no good making individual citizens - in fact, individual women, since I don't recall ever seeing chaps subjecting themselves to public tickings-off like this - responsible for privately solving a problem which they didn't cause in the first place.
Poor Rose is not going to rid the world of plastic bags no matter how many worm farms she sets up, any more than she is going to stop takeaway sushi bars using plastic boxes by printing out her work and eating it crouched over the usual tiny table in the sushi bar instead (And by the way, why is this woman so appallingly overworked that she doesn't even get to take a proper lunch break??)
The only sensible approach to getting rid of plastic is to throw the responsibility back where it belongs. The supermarkets, takeaway bars, yoghurt makers, et al are the ones who put all this stuff into circulation in the first place.
Then they leave us to tie ourselves in knots trying to avoid it - and feel incredibly guilty when we inevitably fail. And if there is one thing no modern woman needs, it's having another load of guilt dumped on her head.
Now that the cloth bags are really cheap, charging for plastic bags is a good idea. But I'm working on a plan to deal with plastic in a completely different way. It involves pausing just before I get to the checkout counter, carefully divesting everything in my trolley of all the surplus packaging, and leaving it neatly piled on top of the nearest display of goods.
If the supermarket insists on buying it packed that way, they can take care of it. If they don't like it, they can have words with the manufacturers. Meanwhile, leave poor Rose alone.
[image: Cover by Richard Parkin. Illustration by Lesley Evans] Here it is at last — the Kindle version of my fourth novel. *Humming* on Amazon: $3.76 It'...
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