My Little Duke

waste

Don't Be Rubbish! A plastic-free picnic with Tearfund.

Faith, Sustainable, charitySteph DukeComment

When my lovely friend Gemma got in touch about getting involved in a Tearfund campaign, I jumped at the chance. I’ve been a supporter of Tearfund from my early teens and when I heard that the event for the campaign involved a picnic that was plastic-free - I was in!

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We were treated to a sumptuous spread by Little Pink Kitchen and Phoebe devoured one too many strawberries for sure!! The table set-up was gorgeous and it was lovely to meet faces I’d only ever seen online; we were all like-minded and keen to hear more about Tearfund’s latest campaign.

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Tearfund’s NI Director, Ruth shared passionately about why Tearfund are stepping up and calling on 4 multinationals: Coca-Cola, Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever to reduce their plastic production.

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So why campaign at all?

Why take a stand and speak up?

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This is unacceptable and this cannot be allowed to continue.

Can you imagine what the figure might rise to in another 10 or 20 years time?

Will you join me and take a moment to read more about why this rubbish problem is something we should be tackling?

Our world has a rubbish problem, and it’s hitting people living in poverty the hardest. Today, 2 billion people in the world’s poorest countries are living and working among piles of waste because their rubbish isn’t collected. That’s one in four people on the planet drinking polluted water, breathing toxic air, battling sickness. This causes between 400,000 and a million deaths a year – and each day the waste mountains are growing. Globally, almost half of all plastic produced is used just once.

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Ruth shared the sobering story of a mother living in the slums in Pakistan. A mother who is doing her best - every single day - to protect her children from the dangers of exposed waste around their home. A mother who came home from one of her several jobs, to find her son, crying in agony because he’d been burned by an exposed chemical substance while out playing with his friends. Thankfully her son was ok, but can you imagine this mother’s fear? A fear that she lives with daily. And this shouldn’t be the case. Her other son suffers terribly with asthma, a direct result of inhalation of the burning of exposed waste near their home. In severe attacks, he has to be taken to hospital, an expensive and entirely unnecessary hardship.

I listened to Ruth, with my own daughter sitting next to me and I could have wept. I didn’t dare to imagine myself in that scenario, yet every day, mothers and families face dangerous and disastrous situations because of a problem that humans have caused.

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Multinational companies such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever are making this rubbish problem worse. They sell billions of products in single-use plastic packaging in poorer countries where waste isn’t collected. And they know full well that people will have no choice but to burn this rubbish – which also contributes to climate change – discard it in waterways, or live among it.

But there is hope. Tearfund are calling on Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever to take responsibility for their plastic waste in poorer countries by making four ‘Not Rubbish’ commitments:

  • Report – by 2020 on the number of units of single-use plastic products you sell

  • Reduce – commit to halve the number of these products by 2025

  • Recycle – by 2022, ensure one single-use plastic item is collected for every one you sell

  • Restore – work with waste pickers to provide employment with dignity

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If they each make and fulfil these four commitments, it could transform the lives of millions of people living in poverty.

Please sign the petition here.

THIS RUBBISH SITUATION CAN CHANGE, IF WE ACT TOGETHER.

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When we steward the earth’s precious resources wisely, we can all flourish. We can drink clean water. Breathe fresh air. Enjoy good health. Our rubbish can be reduced and reused – and this can bring good, safe jobs to the poorest communities.  

This can happen if we act. We can say to companies: ‘don’t be rubbish. Stop creating plastic waste mountains in poorer communities.’  

And we can look at our own lifestyles, too. We also have a plastic problem here in the UK. It’s estimated that we throw away almost 300 billion pieces of plastic each year – more than 4,000 pieces per person. Most of this isn’t recyclable.

In addition to signing the petition, you can also make your own Plastic Pledge to give up one type of single-use plastic for 40 days (or more!). I haven’t quite decided what we are giving up yet!!

Let’s join together - we can truly make a difference and change this rubbish situation.

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NB: Photography by David Kirkpatrick/Tearfund