Going plastic-free for 2017: a social marketing experiment
Our colleague at The NSMC - Dr Rowena Merritt - is attempting to go plastic-free for the whole of 2017. Read her first blog on her experience below:
Have you ever thought about how much plastic you throw away each week? Maybe this thought crosses your mind when you look at your overflowing recycling bin, or maybe it is not something you have thought about before.
Until last year, I had not really given it much thought. That all changed when I took a load of rubbish to our local recycling centre. One of the men who works there was helping me unload the car when he spotted a bin bag full of plastic: “You can’t recycle most of them” he informed me. For years I have diligently recycled, but it turns out not all plastic is recyclable. Plus, recycling plastic is a complex business: There are many types of plastics and each type can only be recycled with its own kind. This means that most local recycling plants cannot cope and the plastics are then shipped thousands of miles to countries such as China to be recycled, where the environmental laws are not always so stringent.
It made me realise that we need to reduce as well as recycle. So, for 2017, we are going to try and be a plastic-free household and we will not buy any plastic which is not reusable (i.e. Tupperware – fine, plastic soda bottles – bad). It’s not your usual New Year’s resolution (and I definitely think we could have chosen easier ones), but when you hear an area in the North Pacific twice the size of Texas has become a flotilla of plastic rubbish, you know it’s time to start reducing. Even more so when you are told that the UK fits into Texas nearly three times – now you know why it is nicknamed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch!
I have spent years working in the social marketing field trying to change people’s behaviour, and now I have to try and change my own. I will be applying social marketing theories and principles to my own behaviour change goals and over the next year I will be keeping you updated via The NSMC blog on my progress.
We are also inviting others to get involved and support us by making environmental protection part of your New Year’s resolutions. You can pledge what you are going to do by adding a comment to this page:
I understand that it is hard to see what impact one family can have, in particular when governments appear to be taking little visible action. However, if more of us did something, even if we just make a small change, it can have a big impact.
Small steps can make a big difference if enough of us give them a go.