1001 water-wise ways: Plastic ain't fantastic

Huge excitement last week: my raintank finally arrived and was installed! It's only taken ten months since I first asked permission... BUT HERE IT IS, FOLKS. Now where is the rain to fill it up? We seem to have slipped back into a dry spell, and we still need a LOT of rain to make it through next summer. But let's stop rain-dancing for a minute -- do you notice anything odd about my newly delivered raintank?

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Yes, you spotted it too! Why the sam hill has it been encased in plastic wrap? It's a piece of outdoor equipment made of hard plastic, not eggshell or china, and I'm hardly likely to care about the odd nick or scratch.

Anyone with half an eye knows that the planet is choking on plastic, another long-term debt we're bequeathing to our children's children and the planet. Having been a compulsive recycler for a long time, I'm been noting with growing alarm how products and goods are coming with more and more and more plastic wrapping. I recycle almost everything I don't compost, and while my boxes of tin, glass and paper have stayed the same over years, the bag for plastics just keeps getting more humungous every few months. I'm now filling 2-litre bottles with single-use plastics for donation to building projects, and what's scary is that even shopping with a watchful and green eye, so much of the stuff still manages to sneak into my home.

I saw a lovely headline the other day: "Is plastic the new fur?" Demanding (or rather, passively accepting) that our goods come swathed in plastic is increasingly an ethical problem. It's turning our seas into killing zones, and our landfills into toxic zones (plastic doesn't biodegrade, so it has to be burned, which renders it exceptionally nasty). Don't take my word for it -- this doesn't sound good: " PVC and halogenated additives are mixed into plastic waste and their incineration leads to release of dioxins and polychlorinated-biphenyls into the environment."

But that's enough gloom-science; as this blog is (mostly) for the middle-class consumer, here's one way to cut down on plastic that I've been meaning to punt for ages: how often have you been at the supermarket (or any kind of shop) and realised your reusable bags are at home or in the boot of your car? And what to do about those little rustly plastic bags we put our onions and apples into before having them weighed?

The trail-runner Karoline Hanks has an absolutely brilliant solution: these little shweshwe owls that clip onto your handbag or belt with a tough carabiner. They are small enough that they never get in the way, and out of them, like rabbits from a magician's hat, you pull out three tough but light shopping bags made of parachute fabric, and two lightweight cloth veggie bags (I need more of these, please, otherwise this package can't be faulted). Here, look:

 Practical and cute.

Practical and cute.

 And look what emerges!

And look what emerges!

 Contact details: that e-address is karabos@mweb.co.za

Contact details: that e-address is karabos@mweb.co.za

Mine was a gift (for which I am grateful every time I trot into a shop), but I believe that they're extremely reasonably priced, and they make wonderful presents. I haven't had to buy a plastic supermarket bag (looking around furtively and guiltily) since getting mine.

 

Helen Moffett