Snapshot Saturday: Prolific plastic

It was on a day out in Sitges near Barcelona that I had my light-bulb moment.  It was a gloriously sunny January day, and we had the beach almost to ourselves: a clean, sandy and utterly unpolluted beach.  Here it is.

Sitges, one bright January morning.

And yet …… I took it into my head to spend just five minutes having my own personal Plastic Litter Pick on this apparently plastic-free beach.  Here is my haul.

From the beach in Sitges, one bright January morning.

When we got back to Ripon, we found that a new group had been formed.  Initially a group of two, it quickly grew.  These are  local people  looking for a Plastic Free Ripon.

Plastic is part of all our lives (you try eliminating it and see just how hard it is), but single-use plastic doesn’t have to be.   We’re 60 miles from the nearest beach, but it’s coastal communities who have perhaps woken up to the threat that plastic in our oceans represents, and Surfers against Sewage who have provided Ripon, and dozens of other communities with a toolkit to help us begin eliminate needless plastic from our city.

Thanks to a small group of foot-soldiers marching to local businesses and spreading the word,  neighbourhood shops have committed to discouraging customers from having plastic bags.  Some takeaways have invested in compostable food containers.  There are bars that have decided against issuing plastic straws.  Commit to taking three decisive steps to eliminate plastic, and your business in Ripon can be awarded plastic free-status.  Many have eagerly responded to the challenge.

There’s much else to do.  Hotels and bed and breakfast establishments are still providing little single-use plastic bottles of shower gel and lotions.  School dinner providers still issue single-use bottles of water.  Garden centres sell their wares in single-use plastic plant pots. Residents and passers-through who should know better sling bottles and packaging from car windows or outside take-aways.  So that’s why there will be regular community litter-picks.

I wish I could say I was in the vanguard of all this action.  I’m not, though I’m a small part of it.  There’s a small gang working utterly indefatigably, and already they’ve made a huge difference.  All the same.  Like so many others, Malcolm and I have gone old-fashioned and eschew the plastic milk cartons in the supermarket.  The early-morning milkman delivers us our early-morning pinta in a glass bottle for us to rinse out and return.  Just like the good old days.

Drinka pinta milka day. (1959 slogan from the Milk Marketing Board)

‘Prolific’ is this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.

29 thoughts on “Snapshot Saturday: Prolific plastic”

  1. I would gladly get my milk in a glass bottle but that is not possible in my part of London. Well done Ripon for getting its act together. Most days I pick up something recyclable in the street and put it in a green bin, every little helps.

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  2. Thanks! You’re right, every little helps. I’d heard that London was ahead of the game on the return of the old fashioned milkman, because of the density of population,. So maybe you will get your chance. I hope so. We only get two pints a week, but …..every little helps.

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  3. Great read to start the day. We all have to do our part! Slowly but surely we will get there. I see many more people bringing their own bags to the grocery store, than just two years ago. It is increasingly becoming the norm. Once stores stop providing the plastic then people would have no choice. I wish milk in a bottle was an option here. Not only is it better for the environment, but it tastes better!

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  4. I’d love to see the old glass milk bottles make a comeback, even just for nostalgia reasons–they take me back to our dairy farm days! I do think there’s a sea change of attitude underway about single-use plastics–we each do our little bit and it adds up!

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  5. It’s appalling, isn’t it? We visited one beach near Wigtown that had huge piles of rubbish — it looked like someone had collected it all but left it within sight of the beach to make a point. Every time we visit our friends in Exeter and go to the seaside we try to remember to take along a bin bag and my friend and I collect up everything we can see, most of it plastic. My neighborhood ran a “community clean” litter pick event last month but only four of us showed up and I was the only person under 60. We got two alleyways spick and span but they’re probably just as bad as ever now. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed even when you do your bit.

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  6. Brilliant post. We need to get to that moment where chucking away plastic is viewed in the same way as lighting up in public is these days. Perhaps pressure from all sides will encourage more thoughtful packaging and a reduction in plastic use overall. We can, but hope.

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  7. That lighting up comparison is, I hope, a good one. It feels as if there are increasing numbers of people who’ve ‘seen the light’, but the small hard core who neither know nor care are going to be hard to engage. Catching ’em young is probably the way forward.

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  8. When we were sailing we were appalled at the amount of plastic, and other rubbish, we found so far out into the ocean. Occasionally we would find small islands of it. We try hard to minimise our usage, we’re mot perfect but we’re getting there.

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  9. Until recently our local lanes were largely litter free. We always noticed more rubbish during the holiday season and after cycle races, when cyclists (I suppose) imagine they are on the ‘Tour’ but nowadays, litter-dropping and fly-tipping seem to be de rigeur. Well done Ripon and well done Margaret and Malcolm!
    Your photo of the amount of plastic found on that pristine beach is an eye-opener! We are so tired of the muck on our local beaches and dread storms when even more plastic is washed up.

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  10. Margaret I agree with you totally. I often pick up plastics from our local beach when we are out walking. It’s quite satisfying to do – even if it’s just a tiny amount. I particularly hate to see balloons and the shiny cords attached. Sometimes only the shiny cords are left when I’ve come across them. These are released far too often as a celebration but end up in the sea (or countryside) for wildlife to ‘discover’. Surely as awareness continues to be raised things will change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope so. Tragic as the death of Alfie Evans was, I was so upset that his supporters had released dozens – maybe hundreds – of balloons, which will inevitably end up killing wildlife in one way or another.

      Liked by 1 person

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