Clean up our world!!! Get rid of pollution!! Recycle!!
These commands seem to be the new watchwords of our society and, I think, most people are doing a little something to try and solve the problem.
Most of us do our bit at recycling. Our garbage collection encourages us to separate our discards into recyclables and garbage. Supermarkets now have to charge for plastic grocery bags, in an effort to get us to carry our own reusable shopping bags, like grandma used to do and, many of us are doing this on a regular basis.
In grandma’s day, everyone had a big basket and a big bag, one for each hand as nobody had a car to ride home from the store in. The basket was usually for potatoes and vegetables, the bag for dry goods. Worked well and everybody knew the system. It wasn’t meant as recycling it was just the way things were. Once you got the groceries home, everything went into it’s own bowl or container, where it stayed until used.
At Christmas, one of the standard presents to give to a senior or to another family was a tin of biscuits, or cookies, as called here. The tins were usually beautifully decorated with a country scene or an Olde English Thatched Cottage. The tins were treasured and kept forever.
As a child, most sweet items were home baked but biscuits were usually store bought, the only home made ones were shortbread or ginger snaps, and these were usually only made around Christmas time. Store bought biscuits were the usual and these were weighed out at the grocers, put into a paper bag and kept, at home, in a tin.
Apart from cold cereals, like corn flakes or shredded wheat, most dry goods were weighed out and put into paper bags. All our local shops used a standard one pound bag, with a little cellophane window, to show the contents. Some stores got creative and wrote the contents on the bag or even splurged on a rubber stamp.
Plastic had not been invented yet, neither had egg boxes, so eggs, like everything else, were carried home in a paper bag, carefully balanced on the top of the dry goods. Veggies were placed on top of the potatoes without wrapping and were usually kept, in the basket, in a cool place until use.
This state of affairs continued until plastics and nylon became part of our daily life. The public took to plastics with open arms. It was lightweight, unbreakable, washable and airtight, in fact a modern miracle. Not too long after came Tupperware and most housewives adored the neatness of their kitchen with all dry goods kept in matching containers. Other, cheaper plastics were made into similar containers and suddenly kitchens became neat, clean and insect proof. No nasty mites hatching out in the oatmeal!
If things had stayed this way maybe the world would still be relatively tidy and our oceans not being used as a huge garbage dump. However, gradually corner shops were replaced with supermarkets and imported food became popular. With this came the pre-wrapped goods we know today. Suddenly store shelves were filled with plastic or wax coated cartons, in an effort to extend the shelf-life of foodstuffs.
That was the beginning of the end. Since then, life has become one huge garbage dump of leftover packaging. Packaging has become a nightmare of several kinds of plastics wrapped round almost every item. Once we get our groceries home, most of us then repack them into containers in our fridge and cupboard, and, out go the plastic bags into the garbage.
We can purchase or make mesh bags to put our salads and veggies in, I find these helpful and can just go into the fridge with the contents safely inside. These bags go in the washing machine so are hygienic. I made myself fifteen out of a net curtain purchased for $2 at the Kiwanis market, no drawstring needed, I just fold them shut, makes plastic bags quite unnecessary.
The problem is with the goods that come already packaged and, in some cases, over packaged. If companies are going to insist that they foist all this unnecessary packaging onto the consumer, then I feel we should be able to take all the extra stuff back to the supermarket to deal with. If shops were forced to take back packaging, they would soon demand the producers to find a different way of dealing with the waste.
I honestly do not feel it is my responsibility to handle all this waste and its disposal. I am paying too much for the item in the first place, so don’t see why I should spend my time having to deal with the packaging.
We as the consumer have to try and make things change, big business is not going to spend money on improving packaging unless we demand it. Buy more simply packaged items, complain to management about over packaged goods and let them know we want to clean up our world. It starts not with the disposal of plastics but with the producers of the packaged goods.