Friday 6 December 2013

Common Folk Against Death by Plastic

Packaged Croissant spotted in a Supermarket
It was an ordinary winter's day in London.  Rain swept the streets and good British folk took comfort in mugs of tea and talked, justifiably, about the weather.
I was in the vegetable shop looking forward to getting home. Behind me, another customer was in a hurry and pressing into my personal space. The cashier turned to her, 'Do you need a bag?'
In her hand was a single red pepper. She didn't think twice. 'Yes,' she said.

A few months ago I might not have registered this interaction let alone reacted to it. But on that windy winter's day her request flicked a switch inside me, and in my head, a voice cried 'murderers!'            
It took me by surprise. I even worried I might have said it out loud but her expression reassured me I hadn't. I watched her putting her red pepper in the little transparent plastic bag the cashier had given her while I waited for my change. The bag hadn't solved her problem. Next she asked for a bigger plastic bag to put the little plastic bag in since the little plastic bag had no handle. Two plastic bags for one single vegetable.     
'Murderers!' the voice cried again. It was the voice of millions of ghosts; the ghosts of countless marine species poisoned and suffocated by plastic. It was the Sperm Whale washed up in Spain defeated by 17kg of the stuff in its stomach. It was also proof that the message of Common Folk had hit me.            
If you haven't heard of Common Folk yet, that's because it only launched last month. It's the brainchild of Tina Ziegler, a Californian girl living in Spain from the art industry, and a woman I'm proud to call my sister-in-law.
Struck by how much waste she was creating in her everyday life, Tina sought to raise awareness about plastic pollution and created CO/FO to draw attention to our daily habits that collectively form part of the global environmental problem. Less than 10% of plastic worldwide is recycled, the rest goes to landfill, is burned or will eventually make its way to the ocean. The catastrophic effect this is having on our eco-system is captured in this powerful and beautifully shot video.
Although I had finally got into the habit of bringing my own bag out shopping, up until now I'd found it hard to avoid using those little bags for fruit. Responding to this problem Tina set about creating attractive and affordable 100% organic cotton bag as an alternative, and there is a range on her website available to buy.            
No one likes being preached at and Gandhi really got it right with his catchy line: 'Be the change you want to see in the world'. If it wasn't for seeing the founder of Common Folk in action, living the change she wants to see in the world, then I wouldn't be writing this blog and five times out of ten I'd still be forgetting my bag for life. I don't feel overwhelmed by the problem, I feel grateful I've been woken up to it so I can help.
Plastic Tina found at a beach in Palma de Mallorca
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Julie said...

oh wow. I use mesh bags for produce at the grocery store, but after watching that video, I just went over to etsy to buy to give as gifts for Christmas. That is so, so sad. Everyone should see this video.

Ben said...

It annoys me so much supermarkets still do plastic bags. The government should ban them like in so many other countries (including Wales by the way).
Supermarkets pretending to be responsible make plastic bags 3 times as thin so you actually end up using 7 instead of 1.
Either way:
1) Ban plastic bags;
2) Make people use their own bags and the billions of cardboard boxes supermarkets have;
3) Open MORE recycling centres (not close them like so many councils have this year);
4) Actually then sort out the real shnizzle which is massive corporation pollution. The UK is NOT good on pollution, we need to sort it aaaaaaaaaaat. I think you and your Sister in Law can do this so, thank you.
I promise to do my bit by keeping my own 3 chickens, not using plastic bags (much) and doing the blue bin every other week at home.
Deal? Deal.

Emily Benet said...

I know Julie, that video is heart wrenching. I think it should be on the school syllabus! No one thinks about the consequences. We have to keep sharing it and leading by example! Mesh bags sound very intelligent!

Agreed Ben. Plastic bags should definitely be banned... shall we organize a petition, march, revolution etc? I think we should!