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This is a load of rubbish

6 mins read

I recently watched a documentary series called: ‘The Mediterranean with Simon Reeve’. It was a series which shone a spotlight on to some of the most obscene practices that take place around the region.

It also showed us the natural beauty of some of the biological and geological wonders there. It is a must watch for any supporter of the environment.

As we begin to ease from the COVID-19 lockdown, the question we must now ask ourselves is: how can we help save our environment?

That is, our oceans, our biodiversity, our natural beauty, and our hidden gems which some of us want to keep hidden, for fear of being destroyed.

I have always believed that change starts with us. But it starts with us as both individuals and as collectives. What do I mean by that?

Individually, we could all be doing our bit to help the environment, such as walking, cycling or turning our lights off when not needed. But, collectives are responsible for organised beach cleans, litter sweeps on our campus and other voluntary action which you can get involved with.

Every day I go outside and take a walk along the street, I am confronted by something most of us may either take for granted, or just not realise to the truest extent.

Rubbish. A load of it. All sitting on the sides of streets and main roads.

But that’s not all. It’s also spread out on beaches, in fields, parks, and even places with public bins in place.

Now, you might call it ‘garbage’ or ‘litter’. But I call it rubbish because that’s what it is. A load of rubbish!

To me, it’s a load of rubbish that I see a load of rubbish, every single day.

Most of this rubbish is plastic. But a load of it is waste which has been generated by humans.

In Scotland, 2018 figures show that a total of 11,450,461 tonnes of waste was generated. Of which 2,405,246 tonnes was from households.

And 53,086 tonnes of that is plastic waste. 2,723 tonnes of which was generated by Scottish households.

Annual waste generation in Scotland. Source: Scottish Environmental Protection Agency

But collective groups do not fare better here. Because 5,902 tonnes of plastic was generated through construction and demolition activities, and 44,461 tonnes from industrial and commercial activities.

Our mass production is generating excess waste, approximately 30 times more than in households. And because we are a consumerist society, our money goes towards this.

Data also shows that annual construction and demolition waste is increasing

But the data does show some hopeful patterns as well.

The amount of annual household, industrial and commerical waste appears to be slowly decreasing. This may be a result of environmental initiatives and awareness.

This is a break in the clouds for those of us who are saddened by the amount of rubbish littering our streets here.

But it also provides a better incentive to go and clean up this litter. And we should all be putting our rubbish in bins, or taking it home with us to then put in a bin.

Microplastics are harming our biodiversity. As this plastic waste is generated, it is often disposed of because businesses say it costs too much to deal with.

Indeed, the plastic waste generated from greenhouses in Spain is just dumped because people deem it non profitable to clean up. And these greenhouses supply the majority of our fresh fruit and veg to big UK supermarkets.

And that, is a load of rubbish to me.

We need to be doing something about this. Lockdown is easing now, and we will all be going back to our consumerist actions. There has never been a better time to save our environment.

Now is the time to start supporting smaller, local businesses who will need your business as a result of lockdown. Whereas, bigger corporations will recover without much problem.

As you’re eating your fruit and veg today, remember how much of the stuff we really do take for granted. That fruit and veg is being grown by exploited workers in horrible living conditions, in the European Union.

And the excess plastic waste is being dumped, from which it is entering our oceans and harming our biodiversity.

Make sure you bin your rubbish. And I encourage you to get involved in collective community action, such as litter sweeps to help save our planet.

Featured Image source: Pexels

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PhD - Environmental Science. Aspiring research scientist. Like to blog things science, and how it affects us.

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