We need to have a conversation about waste. Following Blue Planet 2, there has been a media frenzy about the ecological disaster of plastic clogging our oceans, destroying ecosystems and polluting our planet. I’ve seen the viral videos, the news reports and the heartbreaking photos splashed across the news and social media and yet it didn’t prepare me for the sadness I’ve felt about witnessing it for myself first hand. Nothing prepared me for seeing the snippets of what the future holds for my children, my grandchildren… our planet.
While I was studying at university I came across an ancient proverb, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” I’ve always found it incredibly thought provoking, even before I became a mother. However, I never fully realised the truth behind it until we travelled as a family.
Over the last few months I have taken my children on a voyage around the world. We have visited some of the most spectacular places, with the most stunning scenery. We have looked over vast countryside, walked along beautiful beaches and all of it came with it’s own scars of human presence. All of it came with it’s own problem with waste. Roadsides lined with piles of discarded waste. Beaches strewn with bottles, medicine, polystyrene containers and empty hair spray bottles. When travelling by boat we have come across mini floating rubbish patches, built up of discarded flip flops, plastic bottles and other floating debris.
If ever my mind was going to take me back to that ancient proverb and make me take a long hard look at my own habits, my own lifestyle it was taking photos of my children in stunning locations, with a backdrop of waste.
This is the same issue in Vietnam, in Thailand, in Bali. This is the same problem in Paris, in London, in Rome. This is a global battle against waste and we are on a timer. We can no longer claim ignorance, we can no longer continue as we are. Now is the time to make changes. Now is the time for change.
Our battle against waste
If the past few months have taught me anything, it is that as a family we do not take enough consideration of the amount of waste we produce. But, I’m a firm believer of doing my best until I know better and now I know better, I can do better. When we return to the UK we are beginning a ‘no waste’ challenge. Our aim is reduce the amount of waste we produce as a household to as little as possible within three months. It is quite a drastic challenge, but one we feel is necessarily.
What can you do to incite change?
A no waste challenge isn’t going to be suitable for every household, but there are a number of ways to reduce your own household waste without drastically changing your lifestyle.
It is so easy to get everything from a local supermarket, but when shopping in supermarkets a lot of the produce comes wrapped in plastic. To reduce the amount of unnecessary waste, consider hiring the local milkman, shopping in the local butchers and grocers. In most cases the produce will also be sourced locally, meaning the transportation emissions will be drastically lower as well
We’ve been growing our own fruit and veg for a couple of years and although we don’t have huge amounts of space, there are ways to grow a lot of produce in a small space when using a good planting system. There are a range of gardening hacks online and staff at local garden centres can be great sources of information for handy tips and advice. Another great thing about growing your own produce at home is that little ones can get involved and enjoy some time in the garden as well.
Invest in a water bottle
It is so easy to buy a bottle of water while on the move, but it is so much cheaper and better for the environment to invest in a refillable water bottle. When living in countries where drinking water is avaliable by tap, it seems silly not to!
Bamboo and metal straws
The next time we set off on an adventure we will be investing in bamboo straws. It is such a simple product, but can save on a lot of unnecessary waste ending up in landfills.
Support ongoing clean up projects
It is all very well and good changing our habits, but there is still a large amount of waste clogging up our oceans, our roadsides and our countrysides. During our travels we have come across a number of different projects that are working on cleaning up the existing problem and in doing so are making our planet a cleaner, healthier place. There are number of ways of supporting these organisations from purchasing products and services to donating money or time.
This organisation is using recycled materials to create bracelets. Each bracelet that is sold is paying for one pound of waste to be removed from the oceans and coastlines.
The Ocean Clean Up has gained a lot of media coverage because of the impressive design and sheer scale of their ocean clean up operation. The Ocean Clean up is the revolutionary organisation behind a revolutionary product aiming to clean up the huge garbage patch in the Pacific ocean. Myself and Mr. C found ourselves watching one of the talks hosted by the founder Boyan Slat, who predicts the organisation can completely clear the Pacific garbage patch within 5 years of launch.
If you decide to do any diving while on your travels try and find one that takes part or supports ocean clean ups. During our travels we visited an old family friend who has set up a diving school called Dive Alpha in Vietnam’s Nha Trang. The Dive Alpha team regularly clean as they dive, working towards cleaner waters and lessening the impact of human activity.
Beach Clean Ups
While on your travels look for local beach clean ups and find out how to take part. If there isn’t one, do a bit of a beach clean up yourself. We have found ourselves on a number of litter strewn beaches and have decided to do mini clean ups ourselves. During out time in Vietnam, we filled half a carrier bag by just collecting rubbish within a 10 foot radius. If every tourist on every beach did this, our planet’s coastlines would look a lot less like the beginning of a landfill site and lot more like the natural beauties they are supposed to be.