Plastic Planet

15/03/21
Our last Club House discussion took us through all of plastic's implications
Robin Ward

There was a truly plethoric selection of discussion points on our last 'Plastic Planet' Club House. Speakers from across the world shared their views on everything from utilising plastic in better ways, to sustainable legislative change. We'd like to extend a huge thank you to everyone that participated.

A focal point of discussion was how deeply personal our journeys to a more sustainable lifestyle are. As we navigated how to empower each other, support local climate-positive businesses, and the changes we can make immediately in our own homes, it became clear that there is no 'one size fits all' approach to domestic, sustainable development. With many of us holding differing priorities in our lives, the ability to compromise, even the capacity to change, becomes an internal discussion where we challenge ourselves as to the small alterations we can make that lead to big differences as a whole. Inclusivity, transparency and openness to lifestyle changes are what seemed to keep optimism high and encourage progress.

We all know about taking reusable bags to the shop, or switching the products we buy regularly to more sustainable brands. Perhaps less obvious, is how domestic science is evolving our relationship with sustainability. Chan'nel Vestergaard, founder of Little Pink Studio and active community scientist, set out with the aim to make science more accessible in the home, and how to facilitate sustainability through it. Part of her research has developed clothes made from food waste. Did you know that Agar + Glycerine and water produces edible plastic? Her community labs in Copenhagen have tools for all levels of expertise.

Design and technology actually took a bit of a forefront in our discussions. Katie raised the invention of 'eco bricks', pushing the point that even items that cannot be fully recycled, still have the potential to be repurposed. Bamboo was highlighted as the wonder material. Tommie Eaton, founder of Bambuu Brush, spearheaded talks on the incredible properties of the plant; its high carbon dioxide absorbtion rate and its speed of growth. It was noted that there are still barriers in the way of it becoming more widely used - it's difficult to maintain, fast-harvesting options still need to be implemented, and in some states you need to have a license to grow bamboo, due to its sometimes uncontrollable spreading.

Nano and microplastics formed a core discussion point, and its prevelance in our natural world was shocking. Studies have revealed their presence in human organs, in 100% of participants. Solutions to tackle this ranged from switching to buying products free of microplastics, and initiatives to incentivise new packaging materials. Clearly, this is a broad issue that's going to require some dramatic changes on both a persoanl and governmental level.

Overcoming issues for sustainable business growth were noted. It was suggested that 'tax releases' for sustainable businesses could help legitmise investment opportunities that smaller companies are in need of for expansion and collaborative purposes. Government policy changes and legislative pressure arose as a necessary component to fostering a more eco-friendly world, and certainly for durable change.

Geographical limitations, such as ease-of-access to recycling points, meant that even the most basic act of recycling can pose challenges for communities with infastructures that don't lend themselves to sustainability. Vinc, who lives in South Africa near Mozambique, mentioned how local governments simply don't have the capacity to recycle effectively. Over the last 30 years, plastic has accelerated the decay of traditional building methods, such as using glass and clay. This influx of plastic is particularly damaging due to the lack of local recycling points; some were more than a day's walk away.

It's easy to feel deflated by some of the discussions that took place during this Club House, but it's important to note that there is a great deal of optimism and innovation, targeted at the very core of issues raised here. Together, climate-positive change is attainable, and the opportunities are there. Have a think - what small changes can you make?

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