I’ve always been interested in the environment and its protection and thanks to my travels I’m becoming more and more passionate. I’ve been trying to reduce my waste by making better decisions when shopping but I find it very difficult to avoid plastic. Although we are more aware of its negative effect on our planet we are still in love with it.
In South East Asia plastic is everywhere. They just love it. “Why would you use your fancy, eco-friendly shopping bag when we can give you a plastic one for free?” When I lived in Vietnam most people got confused when I told them that I didn’t need a bag. I know that most South East Asian countries are quite poor and plastic is cheap but it’s very bad for the environment and health. It is extremely dangerous in small villages where people don’t know about the harmful effects of plastic. I saw the locals throwing bags, bottles and all kinds of plastic waste into lakes and rivers then fishing, bathing or even drinking from the same river.
We would think that the situation is better in Europe and other developed countries. True is that people know more about plastic but do they care more? Unfortunately not. I don’t want to generalise and I know that there are countries that are doing great but most European countries don’t take real action. I was shocked when I moved to England and saw that even plastic was wrapped in other layers of plastic. Big supermarkets sell fruits and vegetables in plastic bags. Even if they sell a few things loose the selection is much smaller and often more expensive. The huge selection of readymade food also surprised me. There’s a whole aisle of microwaveable plastic food that’s not only bad for the environment but for your health.
I don’t know the statistics but I think in Hungary we do better when it comes to plastic bags than the UK but that’s probably because we are more stingy and don’t want to waste money on them. When I went home after a year I was quite shocked but pleasantly surprised how shopping bags kind of disappeared from supermarkets. Readymade food is also less popular but we still have a lot to learn. Hungarians in general are not very conscious about the effect they have on the environment and tend to have an “I’m too small to make any change” attitude. The government doesn’t help either. With recycling stations disappearing and companies going bankrupt we don’t have a lot of options as how to handle our garbage. Still, I believe if we bought less plastic that could make the situation somewhat better.
In Italy there are a lot of farmers’ markets and people use fresh, local ingredients, which is great. On the other hand, whenever I go grocery shopping I’m forced to use plastic. Here, you not only put your fruits and veges into plastic bags but you also need to use plastic gloves to touch them before you put them in a bag. Why? Just why? You’ll wash those fruits and vegetables anyway. I refuse to use them but I’m always worried that one day someone will tell me off and I won’t be able to understand a word or react.
All in all, I think it’s great that more and more people are becoming conscious of the plastic situation but we could do more. I believe in small changes and the power of the crowds so I’m definitely trying to do my share to protect the environment and use less plastic. I just wish there were more options to reduce plastic in our everyday life. So what do you do to avoid plastic? I’d like to hear your tips 🙂