The trip to Germany is nearly over and soon I will have to say my goodbyes to my Oma. I will elaborate on the trip itself once I am home again, but for today I need to report on something I saw on the television last night; a) because I am missing the interaction with our blogging community, and b) because it was finally a spark of environmental love that has been lacking immensely during my travels! The topic? Plastic waste. Plastic is such a jerk!
The network is NDR, which I think was the same network who reported on our friends from Alternulltiv ZW Hamburg. In the program they were discussing the heavy use of plastic packaging in big name supermarkets (like Edeka and Aldi), namely of fruits and vegetables (also, Bio products, which in Germany is organic). Featured produce included bananas pre-wrapped in plastic bags, zucchinis sold in threes placed in a cardboard tray and then wrapped in plastic, shrink-wrapped cucumbers as we know them, and others. These were first presented to consumers, then the experts (environmental and packaging), and then the network attempted to contact the supermarkets, which responded with some very creative answers to the packaging nonsense.
Consumers were asked on their opinions of wrapped cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, bagged bananas, etc. The reaction was similar: the consumer would hold the product, shake their heads, and respond with, “This is completely unnecessary.” Promising, I thought! People do not appreciate the wrapping. One man pointed out that when he searches for Bio (organic) products, he also expects them to be environmentally friendly (isn’t that the point, he wondered). One woman even said she would not purchase it if it came pre-plastic-wrapped. Good girl!
Next came the experts, who also had similar reactions: the packaging was unnecessary and completely irrelevant.
Then came the interesting part in which the network correspondents contacted the big name supermarkets to explain their abundance and redundant use of plastic packaging. Several chains were asked the same questions, none returned with the same answer. If you know anything about Germany, you’ll know that things are done by the book, which made me think these companies are just making stuff up; otherwise, they would likely cite the exact protocol of how they are to sell their produce. Some said consumers are more likely to purchase packaged products. Others claimed it kept produce fresher longer. Others still chimed in with a well-known answer in the ZW world regarding the evil “cross-contamination” (say in Transylvanian accent)!
The experts were again turned to with the supermarkets’ responses. The conclusions? They are full of crap.
So, what’s with all the packaging then? Hm. It could be that it’s a billion dollar industry and we support it daily.
That same evening I saw yet another program as part of the news that discussed the dangers of microbeads. The headline: microbeads more dangerous than previously thought. If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what microbeads are, you should know you probably send them into our water systems daily. They are in types of toothpastes, facial scrubs and cleansers, body washes, and other body products. These get washed into our water systems and are so small they cannot be filtered out. The result? They float into rivers, lakes, oceans, and our groundwater, and are absorbed by the environment including by fish, which end up back on our dinner plate. Mmmmm carcinogens!
But why are they more dangerous than previously thought? With ongoing, extensive research, it was found that microplastics act as a magnet for toxins, carcinogens, and other pollutants in our water systems, which were far less concentrated in the absence of microbeads. It’s a new type of toxic multivitamin. As I said, these are absorbed by the environment and are more than likely to be re-ingested by us. Dang! We so stoopid.
What can I do, you say? You can educate yourself on products you use and use your power as a consumer to purchase products that are environmentally friendly. Translate ingredient lists. Avoid scrubbing “grains” in makeup and body products. It is your responsibility as a citizen of Earth.
“But I need to exfoliate!” Enter the WASHCLOTH! Dadadadaaaaah!
My point? It is being talked about. Time to join the conversation.
Have you watched a related program on TV that gave you some hope in regards to our global waste problems? Please share!