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Newspaper Columns

Times of Tonbridge Column - 15 August 2018 - Recycling

One of the best things this government has done is incredibly simple.  Reducing plastic use will begin a change in our community that I hope will see our understanding of plastics change. We have seen the damage done on Blue Planet, and the impact that our love affair with plastic has had over the past 70 years, but the time for us to wake up to the cost is long past.  That’s why we’re acting.  But this isn’t just a job for government.

One of the most important things we can do is to reduce our plastic consumption. At our current rate, plastic production is likely to reach 34 billion tonnes by 2050. That is a phenomenal amount. And of course, most of it will only be used once, and then end up in landfill or polluting the world's continents and oceans. We’re already starting to see the catastrophic damage that plastic is doing to the latter of these. We cannot let it continue at the same rate.

That is why dropping single-use plastics, and recycling any we do use, is so important. The government has made a good start in tackling the use of single-use plastics, introducing a 5p charge for plastic bags, and consulting on banning the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

Reduction is one thing, recycling is another, and that means working together between our government and community. That’s something we could all do better. I have raised this with the Council many times and asked that them to improve plastic recycling. I’m glad they’re doing this next year when the new waste management contract begins in our area. This is a brilliant step forward, and I know will come as great news to many households.

In the meantime, of course, it will mean using the recycling banks as before, but there is some good news here too. As a temporary measure Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council will be employing another vehicle to empty the glass and can banks around the Borough, which should help tackle those that do overflow.

But this isn’t just up to others, we have to do more ourselves. I know many of us are doing a lot already; in our own homes, our businesses, and when we go out, but there are some groups around town who are trying to help us do more.

Tonbridge Bicycle Users Group (TBUG) is one that is doing a brilliant job at encouraging people to ditch the car, and the emissions that come with it, and pick-up a bike instead. That’s good for our health and our planet. And that’s not just for adults, I’ve received lots of letters from school classes and youth groups who are concerned about their future and want to know what the Government is doing about it. They want to do something to ensure the Earth is still resourceful and liveable for them, and their own kids.

But saving the Earth isn’t easy. It requires all of us to be more conscious of the footprint that we leave on earth. There are simple ways to reduce this of course; turning the light off when you leave a room, turning the taps off when brushing your teeth, not leaving your car engine on when you stop. They’re little things, but if you do them they can make a big difference in the long run.

The future of our planet is a big concern for all of us, but if we are all more conscious, we can make a difference.

Georgie Welford