My passion for upcycling started out as a necessity when buying my first home. Lack of money made me creative and also made me aware of the things that people throw away and the effect this has on our planet. I’m constantly horrified at the throwaway society we have become. I rarely visit my local recycling centre for two reasons – firstly, I try to recycle most things myself and secondly I have a panic attack every time I go when I see the things we throw away, and don’t get me started on plastic bottles and plastic pollution.
Did you know: Half of the plastic that has ever been made has been produced
in just the last 15 years.
Quite simply, we cannot continue on this destructive journey we seem to be on. Landfill, our oceans, the air we breathe, they’re all suffering through the choices we make. The good news is that we can make different choices, we can choose to change the way we live to help stop the destructive impact on our planet and we can choose to live more sustainably.
This all sounds great in theory but how do we, as individuals, make a difference? A recent post doing the rounds on social media highlights this issue pretty well.
(image source unknown)
We can make a difference and what’s encouraging is that individuals and businesses alike are taking positive steps to do just this.
Northumbria Water invited me to spend the day at their second Innovation Festival held at Newcastle Racecourse. Leading businesses and experts were joined by innovation experts, scientists, engineers, designers, local businesses, universities, schools, artists and members of the public to come up with and explore innovative ways to help change the world one drop at a time.
The five-day long event was essentially an innovation conference but instead of a stuffy business-focussed conference venue, Newcastle Racecourse had been transformed into a mini-festival, complete with games, a main stage for talks, food tents with a side order of glorious sunshine to add to the atmosphere. The relaxed feel to the event invited an attitude to learn and encouraged businesses and consumers to work together, listen to each other, ask questions and find solutions to the bigger issues facing us and our planet.
I spent the day with teenagers and young adults exploring the issues raised by Sir David Attenborough in his Blue Planet series, in the Teenager sprint – How can we reduce the impact of single-use plastics? Lead by Isle Utilities, it was a real eye opener to hear some of the shocking statistics around plastic pollution. I firmly believe we can all do our bit to help, but my heart tells me that the younger generations are the ones who can really make a difference.
They have a different outlook on life to my generation, they look to technology as the first option to a problem and their solutions included an app that offers incentives for reducing plastic consumption. People thrive on rewards for their actions, so if we were to get businesses on board to offer rewards for a more sustainable life, it’s a win win.
We explored a zero waste lifestyle with a talk from Laura at The Paddock, an eco-friendly store focussing on zero waste with no single use plastics. We looked at ways to reduce packaging that can’t be recycled and ways to switch to plastic free packaging for food stuffs and cosmetics, replacing them with brown paper and refillable bottles. As consumers we can change our mindset and change our habits by thinking with a conscience. Did you know: only 14% of plastic packaging is recycled globally each year.
We then looked at packaging and sustainable alternatives. We experimented in teams on ways to post an egg without it breaking. We tried out shredded paper, reused plastic packaging and popcorn. All sustainable and in all cases the egg survived. This highlighted the growing trend for online buying and the increase in postage. Businesses need to rethink their use of non-recycleable polystyrene and plastics and as consumers we need to demand those changes.
We pooled our ideas together and brainstormed ways to change the world. It all sounds very grand and unattainable but it just takes one small change for each of us and we can make a massive change.
(Image credit: Laura at The Paddock)
Thanks to organisations like Northumbrian Water, positive steps are being taken around the world, it takes a push and pull effort to make it work effectively though. It takes individuals to ask for change, once there is a demand for it the Governments have to take note and change the laws around pollution, plastics and the environment. Businesses need to be ready for the change and they can help drive it, but ultimately they have to implement it.
Did you know: The number of single-use plastic bags used in England has fallen by 80% since a 5p charge was introduced so changes do happen.
I could go on and on about this topic but I’ll stop here and just ask you to think about your buying habits and try to make conscious decisions. We can all change our habits if we really want to.
I’m passionate about this subject anyway but I’d urge anyone to learn more about the Northumbrian Water’s work and the Innovation Festival itself, we all need to be more aware, change a few bad habits and spread the word. We owe it to our future grandchildren to start now.
Make your #plasticpledge
Make the decision to change at least one thing in your routine and daily life. Ditch plastic straws, buy a reusable coffee cup, always use water wisely and always use a refillable bottle. Share your #plasticpledge on social media to start the conversation and watch it grow.
NB This is a sponsored post but views are always my own.