What the War on Waste Really Means to Me
It makes my blood boil. Walking into a supermarket and seeing the fruit and vege section full to the brim with plastic packaging where it most certainly does not need to be. There is not one molecule of my being that understands this turn in events, and yes, I know it has been happening for some time now. I recall how preposterous it first seemed, when there was just a small section of bagged, cut-up vegetables; I remember clearly laughing and thinking, why is it so hard to cut your own cauliflower, carrots, potatoes? But now, the scene makes my stomach turn—it sometimes seems harder (and in small supermarkets this can be the actual case) to find unpackaged fresh produce amidst all the containers, cling wraps and unnecessary single-use plastic bags.
And even though I am a beekeeper, I have realised in the past few years that my job and responsibility extend further than this. I love bees because of how much they help the planet, and as a socially and environmentally conscious member of society, I think it’s important that we all encourage one another to make changes to help the planet in whatever way we can. Heavens, the bees can’t do ALL the work! So, let’s get down to business. As outlined a 2019 report organised by the University of Technology Sydney and commissioned by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), Australians generated a whopping 4.5 m tonnes of packaging waste in the 2017-2018 financial year. And of the plastic waste consumed, only 32% was recovered and recycled.
So, what is plastic? According to the environmental organisation, Plastic Free Sea, plastics are non-renewable natural resource such as crude oil, gas and coal. They are the product collected most by Clean up Australia’s environmental program. And scarily, they never actually break down, they just get smaller. Of course, we have all seen the devastating images of what happens when we let plastics enter our waterways, with so many animals, birds and fish dying painful deaths due to this careless and excessive use of materials. These are just some of the reasons that walking into a large-scale supermarket to be greeted by a sea of plastic covered apples, oranges, celery sticks without their heads, diced carrots and lunch-sized fruit salads: that consumer landscape breaks my heart.
The war on waste needs to continue. We need to join forces across the world. We need to ramp up this very valuable attack. We are making some fantastic advances in the fight, with single-use bags being reduced, and considerably more education on waste than five years ago; in fact, just one month ago, a UN environmental assembly saw 170 countries pledge to considerably reduce waste, specifically the single-use plastic bag, by 2030. So, let’s keep fighting “anti-environment” behaviours worldwide, starting right here in Australia, in our work places, homes and schools. Every time you recycle your containers, every time you take your own bags to the supermarket, every time you make the positive choice to buy unpackaged fruit and veges, you help change the perception of how much plastic we actually need (very little, I suggest). I will continue to keep your up to date with the war on waste and develop long-term products that can help reduce your use plastics wherever possible. Remember, we only have one planet, let’s treat it with the utmost respect.