What happens with all of that plastic that we are chucking into our kitchen waste bin? It's so easy to just toss it in there and forget about it- but headlines, photos and documentaries remind us that plastic waste is a huge problem. Most of it cannot be recycled and shamefully, plastic waste is being dumped to other, "less developed" countries- basically their land is being polluted by our dirty habits. These realities are too disturbing to ignore, and even though collective action is needed to get the government to take broader action so we can make change on a larger scale, it is also important to find ways that we, as individuals, can help to make a difference.
Having these noble intentions, I googled "Eco-brick" and started my journey. I learned that I needed to wash all of the plastic, dry it, cut it up into pieces and cram it into a bottle. There are minimum weight requirements so that each bottle could be considered a true eco-brick that could be re-used as building material.
I love the idea of it. The elegance of it was so appealing- not only would it trap the plastic from being released into our water and land, they also served a practical function of being used as building material, which needs to be reliably sturdy and non-degradable.
There's always a "but", isn't there?
It is so much work. It takes so much time. It takes so much effort and who is paying me for this anyway?? These are the thoughts that flitter across my mind every time I face a new batch of washed and dried crinkly plastic staring me in the face. Every session of cramming plastic with a bamboo stick into the bottle takes about a half hour. Other people throw this stuff out and don't give it a second thought; I must be nuts to waste my time doing this! I don't even know if I'll get to the end and it won't weigh enough! What'll I do then?
That's it! I resolve that this will be my first and only eco-brick and that's it. It just makes more sense to shop somewhere that doesn't use (as much) plastic packaging and if I do end up with plastic, I can't be bothered to do all of this work- it'll just go in the bin.
And then one day, my son says, "Wow Mum! You are saving so many fish!"
Confused, I ask, "What? I'm not saving any fish. What are you talking about?"
"You know, because you're putting all of that plastic into an eco-brick so it won't get into the ocean."
I guess watching all of those Blue Planet II episodes together with the children has paid off. Well, I'm in a bind now. Do I risk the respect of my children for convenience (and sense!) or do I continue the path I've started so that I can lead by example?
To be continued...