A trash jar changed everything
The North Pacific Gyre is a huge plastic soup. Source: Ocean Conservancy
I’ve never been a super green person. I always loved barbecues. I can’t live without cheese. I always liked to buy new stuff and indulge myself. As everybody else, my perception of success was earning as much money as I could. I’ve always carefully separated my rubbish for recycling, though. I stopped buying pesticide-GMO based fruit and veg to bring home only organics. I started going to farmer’s markets. But at the end of the week, my recycling bin would still overflow with plastic packaging, plus all the other ‘not currently recycled’ mix. I’ve never paid too much attention to it as in my head, stuff gets recycled somehow.
But the BIG game changer for me was finding out that no country in the world has a 100% recycling rate. UK doesn’t even reach the EU recycling target of 50%. And then, I came across this article two years ago about Lauren Singer, a 20-something New Yorker who generates as little as a pint jar of trash per year.
I started to dig deeper on the internet and found out that Singer, along with many others around the world, are part of a global movement inspired by a book written by a French lady living in the US, called Béa Johnson. She started blogging about simplifying life and aiming to produce zero waste back in 2008. She even launched a book about how to produce as little waste as possible without becoming a hardcore green fanatic.
Then I’ve watched Trashed, the Jeremy Irons’ environmental documentary showing that every corner of the ocean – even places with no human presence –, have plastic pollution. How could we damage the planet so deeply in only 50 years of plastic?
Knowing all this, I could no longer ignore that trash is one of the most serious problems affecting human existence in this planet, along with the industrial/mass-production of meat. Nobody was giving it any priority, though. Companies often green-wash their branding and products to have a ‘green appeal’ to consumers. Companies aren’t legally responsible for the end life of their products, so we can’t just send back the trash to them. We all end up paying for the stuff to get collected, sorted (and maybe) recycled by the local authorities.
I’ve got fed up about all this. I’ve signed a petition to ban non-recyclable plastic packaging from Britain. The petition got thousands of signatures and once it reached the 100,000 mark, the Parliament considered it for debate. Well, do I need to say that no action have been taken from MPs? One of them even proudly defended the plastic industry, saying that it generates billions of jobs and it was ‘essential’ for health & safety. Sights.
It only took me a quick search online to find out a considerable amount of scientific studies showing how chemicals from plastic packaging/containers leach to food and can cause all sorts of hormonal disorders, especially in children. The evil BPA (Bisphenol-A) is even banned from baby sippy cups and baby bottles.
From the health point of view, plastic is terrible. On the environmental side, totally unsustainable. The thing never disintegrates. Plastic is a material designed to last forever, and it’s being used for DISPOSABLE stuff. The oceans are becoming a huge soup of microplastics, which marine animals are eating, thinking it is food. And this enters the food chain.
As word has it, ignorance is bliss. I can no longer buy my ultra-packaged processed food from the corner shop anymore. I can’t contribute to this madness any more. And so doing grocery shopping became a saga.
I live in London, and to find all the items I need, unpackaged, I need to go to, at least, four different places, in different areas of the city. And what about the stuff I cannot find unpackaged, like pasta? I started making stuff like that from scratch – which is great, but not something very practical when you work on a 9-5 job and get home tired and hungry.
I’ve decided that enough was enough. If I wanted to be able to shop package-free for almost everything I needed to stock my pantry and fridge in one single place, I would need to create that place. Yes. Bulk Market was born from a purely selfish need. Ha.
But look at the bright side: a lot of other people will also be able to benefit from it. Including you ;)