Sorting out the rubbish is not the highlight of my week, and if I’m honest I have to admit that there are times when I’ve thought I could be using my time much more profitably. But the international Christian relief and development agency Tearfund has helped me realise that it’s daft to think like that, not to mention selfish too.
According to Tearfund we are facing a global rubbish problem and as a result someone dies every 30 seconds from diseases related to mismanaged waste and plastics, especially the growth of single-use plastics. Globally, one in four people do not have a safe way to dispose of rubbish which means they meaning many are forced to dump or burn their plastic waste. Not only does burning plastic waste release greenhouse gases, exacerbating the climate crisis, but it also releases toxic fumes that are deadly for people’s health.
It’s not just tourists making their regular pilgrimages to the Mediterranean whose lives are being affected then. Far more importantly it’s those who are forced to live and work among the piles of waste that are polluting our lovely planet.
Sadly, our throw away culture has found yet another piece of rubbish to litter our beautiful planet, namely single-use vapes. The Local Government Association has recently announced that some 1.3m disposable vapes are being thrown each week, enough to cover 22 football pitches every year.
We all have a vested interest in combating this tsunami of litter, and I was very encouraged to read that almost 200 governments including our own are meeting during 2023 and 2024 to develop the first ever international agreement on plastic pollution.
In the light of this then I would urge you to take a look at Tear Fund’s Rubbish Campaign and to think seriously about adding your name to those encouraging the Secretary of State to grasp this historic opportunity with both hands. It’s sobering to read that single-use plastics shipped from wealthy countries are a major contributor to this pressing issue and that Britain alone exports 650,000 tons of plastic waste every year to countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.
But let’s be honest. We can’t pass the buck and simply hand the problem over to our politicians. Everyone of us can and should do something, no matter how big or small that ‘something’ might seem. Every action will make a difference.
We can make sure we don’t throw our rubbish away but take it home to sort, recycle or bin it for example. We can make adjustments to our lifestyles too by purchasing loose fruit and vegetables rather than those wrapped in plastic, or we can take a reusable container to the deli section in the supermarket instead of buying meat or cheese with plastic packaging. You might even want to come up with some innovative ideas of your own!
But whatever you do please do something, and for at least two very good reasons. Firstly, because in reducing the amount of rubbish polluting our planet you will be helping to combat poverty and death on a huge scale. But secondly, and most importantly because this world doesn’t belong to us, it belongs God. We are tenants not owners and we have a duty of care.
When he created the world God saw that it was ‘good’. He then created human beings and concluded it was ‘very good’. Sadly, we are steadily turning the ‘very good’ into a growing garbage dump and we need to do something about it before it’s too late.