If you’re a regular reader of my Leaders you’ll know how disgruntled I am about the way our recycling schemes are run in the UK, and also of my argument that we should be doing our utmost to avoid creating stuff that one day will need to be recycled. Of course recycling’s a better option than sending all our waste to landfill, but the assumption that recycling’s the perfect solution to our waste problem is way off track and something that needs to be addressed – and fast.
One of my bugbears is excess packaging. Take the humble cucumber, for example. Why is it, that nigh on all the stores in which I see cucumbers for sale, present each cucumber individually shrink-wrapped in plastic. Why? The plastic’s a devil to get off and cucumbers come in their own skin anyway. They’re not slimy or prickly and most of us wash them before use so they’re unlikely to be contaminated through other people’s handling. I never buy packaged bananas for the same reason.
My daughter gifted me a snack pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups last week. My delight soon turned to dismay when I discovered that inside the exterior packaging were five individually wrapped sweets, each one also sitting in its cake case and protected by a cardboard (thankfully recycleable) base. No more Reeses for me then and that’s not because once through all the layers of packaging, there was nothing like the volume of deliciousness that I’d first expected! And when it comes to cucumbers, I’ve voted with my feet and support my local farmers. I buy cucumbers – along with my other fruit and veg, loose at one of the farmers or local markets and if they’ve sold out, I go without. While we keep putting up with bad practice, nothing will change, and a little inconvenience on my part is a small price to pay.
Apart from Tesco though. The recent news that this British-owned supermarket has promised to ditch plastic wrapping on its own brands whilst allowing shoppers to enjoy the same discounts as they would if buying shrink-wrapped multipacks, is music to my ears. And this is just the beginning with further changes planned for later this year. I hope Tesco sees its profits soar so that others have to follow suit and that the change persuades the big brands that this is the type of progress we want to see, for without it, we simply won’t buy.