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Politicians aren’t going to listen on climate change - the revolution must start from the bottom up


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Over the past few months, the topic on everyone's minds has been climate change: how we need to stop using fossil fuels, halt mass deforestation, stop polluting the oceans with endless plastic, and curb the increasing temperatures and related droughts


Image Credit: Mark Dixon via Flickr

I was at a conference recently at the University of Nottingham, speaking on a plastics panel. The event focused on the environment and covered a range of interesting topics, including how we can engage with communities. 

As is to be expected the topic of how the government must enforce effective policies to stop the increasing production of plastic was introduced. One member of the audience responded, making a very interesting point. 

He said that he had recently moved his line of work to an environment agency, having worked for most of his life in industry. He explained how 'shouting at politicians' isn't going to get us anywhere. Instead, we should be directing our energies at industries and large companies. He explained that from experience, such organisations were so worried about bad publicity that it would be within their interest to change their policies. 

He has a point, especially in the current political climate. I don't think Boris Johnson is going to be getting off his arse anytime soon to solve the climate crisis. It's just not economically beneficial for him.

air pollution

Image Credit: Pexels via Pixabay

I am by no means saying that the incredible work by protestors in London and across the country has been pointless - far from it. They have inspired people across the world to take a stand against their governments. Now it's time to maintain that pressure, while also targetting the major businesses, companies and industries.

In 2017, a report revealed that just 100 companies in the world account for 71% of all emissions. So why not target these companies? Although this list is made up of a majority of fossil fuel producers and extractors, there are other major companies using these pollutants to create even more polluting products. Take plastic, for example, our topic of conversation on the panel. 

Plastics are made by a process called cracking, in which 'crude oils and natural gases' are heated to very high temperatures and then cooled to make substances such as propylene. This process, of course, uses fossil fuels and has become a lot cheaper since the introduction of fracking. As such, fracking has become one of the main reasons for plastic production's increase. 

One of the biggest users of plastics is supermarkets. We go in to buy a bunch of bananas and get a load of plastic chucked into the bargain. That plastic doesn't improve the taste of the fruit, and it doesn't protect them as they already have their own protective skin that nature gave them. So why do it?

The produce and prepared foods departments at the Save-On-Foods Kensington store in Saskatoon.

This is how our fruit and veg section should look// Image Credit: Daylen via Wikimedia Commons

The above image is how our supermarkets should look. The #OurPlasticFeedback campaign, inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Anita Ranis' War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita BBC documentary, aims to spread awareness to supermarkets about the unnecessary plastic waste most of their produce is wrapped in.

At the moment, companies have to pay only a small percent towards recycling the plastic they produce. In 2018, the Guardian wrote that "Taxpayers pay more than 90% of the cost of recycling"

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's aim is to create an inconvenience for supermarkets - because these big companies will begin to realise that they will lose income if they do not improve their ways of packaging produce. 

Sadly, not everyone in the UK can afford to go plastic-free right now. The reality is that plastic packaged products are the cheaper option. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the wealthy to carry out these changes and force these companies to change.

As a student who does not have a lot of disposable income, you can still contribute to the revolution. Take your plastic back to your supermarket. Write to them, or write to your local MP demanding change. Make life hard for them - god knows they've made it hard enough for the planet.

Lead Image Credit: Jasmine Sessler via Pixabay

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