‘Why I was shocked about my plastic waste... and what I am doing about it’

PUBLISHED: 18:29 27 November 2017 | UPDATED: 18:29 27 November 2017

Reporter Sarah Robinson holding her haul of plastic.

Reporter Sarah Robinson holding her haul of plastic.


Plastic is seemingly everywhere, and far too much of it is ending up on North Somerset’s beaches. As part of our Cleaner Coastlines campaign, chief reporter Sarah Robinson put her shopping habits under the microscope to see just how much one person can accumulate in a fortnight.

All of us can do something to improve the environment.All of us can do something to improve the environment.

When I started this challenge, I did so having already made changes to how I use plastic.

I had already sworn never to use a plastic straw after watching a video of a turtle having one pulled from its nostril.

I knew, through working on this campaign alongside North Somerset Council, how plastic does not degrade for up to 1,000 years and how millions of tons of it end up in the sea every year.

I thought I had made a lot of changes already – yet I was still shocked by the 42 pieces of plastic I accumulated in a fortnight.

Trust me, if you want to fully appreciate how much plastic you go through in a week, then keep every piece of it and leave it in your living room.

It is tough to be confronted with that growing pile day after day, and acknowledge how hard it can be to avoid.

The trouble is, of course, that it is used so regularly, including on envelopes.

It was incredibly difficult to avoid at the supermarket, as all the cabbages were wrapped up, and I would have to take my own reusable bags if I wanted a handful of potatoes. (I don’t think a cashier would have welcomed me putting 12 individual potatoes on the checkout).

The answer, of course, as other people who took the challenge said, is to use fruit and veg shops and take boxes to the butchers to put meat in.

Most of my plastic was film, the kind found on plastic meat containers, and sadly not recyclable kerbside.

The horrible mass of plastic freezer bags and clingfilm was entirely avoidable – I will be replacing them with reusable boxes.

Although I was already aware of how much plastic is ending up in the seas, and the harm it does, I still found more easy ways to change my behaviour.

If my challenge reminded me of anything, it is that plastic is not bad in itself and much of it can be recycled – the trouble is partly that not enough actually is.

To join our campaign, search for Cleaner Coastlines: Weston and North Somerset plastic-free campaign on Facebook.

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