From Lorraine Jones, Family Ministry Coordinator at HWMC…
The Plastic Problem
Eeuuurrgh!! When you look into it, it really is scary how much plastic is out there and it seems to be in EVERYTHING. It’s hard to avoid — it’s even in teabags! Teabags?! Seriously?!!
I once heard the phrase:
“There’s no ‘away’ to throw to.”
We never truly get rid of anything. Instead it’s turned into something else, or else just sits there in landfill or the oceans.
That seems to be even more true for plastic — once created, it never goes away. We can recycle some of it, but less than 10% of the plastic we collect actually gets recycled [Greenpeace, 2021].
Some of it ends up getting incinerated, but well over half of the plastic that we put out for recycling in the UK gets shipped to other countries for ‘recycling’. At the moment that’s to Turkey and Malaysia but, funnily enough, they aren’t that keen to have it either!
Greenpeace have made a great video called Wasteminster, which is well worth watching:
They’ve also written a great article about the problem, called What really happens to your plastic recycling? It’s a cracking read.
The Greenpeace video calls on our Government to take action on plastic pollution. Yes, the Government does need to take action.
But we can do our bit too.
The Plastic Free July Challenge
We do need to keep up with our recycling but, ultimately, the answer is to use less in the first place. There are so many things we can do: simple changes we can make to make a difference.
This short video — it’s just over a minute long — explains the Plastic Free July Challenge: one or more simple changes we can each choose to make that will make a difference:
It’s all too easy to think,
“Well, one person can’t make a difference”
But they can.
It’s already happening.
You can now see the variety of sustainable alternatives available for everyday items — so producers are listening, people are starting to demand more environmentally friendly products and take the natural world into account when making decisions.
What Can We Do?
The Plastic Free July website has a very useful information sheet that highlights where single-use plastics are commonly used … and very simple changes you can make to avoid using them:
Amy Shephard, the York Circuit Youth Worker, has created this very good guide that asks What Does the Bible Say? and explains what the problem is with plastic — why it’s bad for humans, nature, our world.
It also has some great ideas for simple changes that will help you reduce your use of plastic. It even gives step-by-step instructions for making your own reusable bag from an old T-shirt! And, to help you get started, it has a page you can print out and challenge yourself — to write down what you plan to try in order to avoid single-use plastic and, later, somewhere to record how it went:
How Do I Start?
If you’re the sort of person who’s “in for a penny, in for a pound” then great, go for it: try all of the ideas!
But if you find the thought of that completely overwhelming, just try one or two things and get them under your belt for a while before trying anything new.
An easy start might be to take Plastic Free July’s Pesky Plastics Survey — in less than five minutes you will:
help Plastic Free July track the trends in the common plastics that households use
discover for yourself all the plastics that ‘sneak’ into your shopping
set yourself up to measure your Plastic Free July success
Every day throughout July we’ll be posting Plastic Free July Top Tips to the church’s Facebook page to give you even more ideas.
Some of our young people in the ONE X youth group are really getting into the spirit of this challenge and are having a Plastic Free Picnic in July. I’ve also challenged them to come up with some top tips we can share with you.
And of course, if you have any top tips yourself do please email them to me — at email@example.com — so I can share them with everyone!
I’ll leave you with a quote from Anna Lappe, an American Author, which has really struck a chord with me:
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
And a prayer:
Loving and creative God, help me to make wise decisions today — decisions that are a vote for the kind of world You want. Amen
Lorraine Jones <firstname.lastname@example.org>