Author: Jana Karstova Little
Collects plastic waste for the Thatcham area to send to Terracycle and other recycling intiatives.
Jana Karstova Little shows us just how much one person can achieve.
This is her story about her fight again plastic waste.….
I am sure there are many of you asking yourself this question in the current climate of change and movement to becoming more sustainable. I was there too, walking my dog, watching the litter dancing in the wind at my local park. Each day there was more litter and with winter approaching, it was harder for my dog to avoid it, until, yet again, she cut her paw on a discarded beer can, concealed by the snow.
Carrying the dog home, I was met by the faces of my children who tried to console the poor pooch; ‘Don’t worry girl, you’ll recover soon,’ they said. Their little hands patting the anxious dog was the push I needed. Disaster premonitions were racing through my mind that soon, it would be my children and my children’s children who would be dodging the litter. But, who would be there to take care of their wounds?
That night I cried, I cursed the slow government, the litter and the council. After all, what difference can one full-time working mum make? With insomnia kicking in, I went to fetch my phone to distract myself from the horrors building in my gut, like an invisible hand, churning it around squeezing it hard.
‘Insects dying on mass.’ ‘Whale found with 10kg plastics inside her digestive system.’ ‘If we don’t change, we will set in motion the destruction of the planet within 25 years.’
My Facebook distraction tactic hadn’t worked. Now, in full-blown anxiety attack mode, I finally came across a post on a local Facebook group from a mum who felt the same way. That was it. Panicking, I made the decision to at least cry on the shoulder of a stranger who was in the same boat. I contacted the site admin. The next day I visited our lovely Jenny, the eco warrior of Thatcham and she had a proposal for me. ‘If you want to do something, you could set yourself up to be the local Terracycle drop off point, as I am sadly not able to do it myself. ’
I researched TerraCycle who never incinerate or landfill, but turn plastic waste back into a pellet form material, which is sold on to make fence posts, benches and many other everyday items. Tapping away, I created my account and linked it to Canine Partners charity. That one simple step felt like one little stone had broken away from my anxiety concreted chest. I circulated posts begging for a spare bin and a couple of days later, I had one that had been used for food waste. ‘Beggars can’t be choosers’, I said to myself as I dived in with the bleach to clean it. There was nothing more entertaining for my boys than watching their short mummy disappear into the bin as I tried to clean the bottom of it. Soon, their mummy appeared with bleached hair, matted with brown rotten gunk, cursing and spitting some bits out of her mouth and nose!
Bin thoroughly cleaned, I was ready for action and on 1st of January 2019, I began collecting for the TerraCycle programs I’d joined. By the end of the month, I’d collected 27.7Kg of waste and I was over the moon. I, me, this ONE small individual had prevented that much plastic waste from reaching landfill. Well, that was the beginning………
Since then I have been walking my dog, litter picking and enjoying the odd hedgehog scuttling along the grass in the evening, the muntjac giving me the look before crossing the path, the birds chirping away. And it turned out I wasn’t alone. Other mothers have joined me.
I have also visited many schools and given talks about plastic waste. I can talk for hours about how long each material takes to degrade and I explain that there are other recycling options out there when you start looking. The local council curbside collection isn’t the beginning, nor the end of recycling. I even had had an article published in the local paper and magazine.
Along the way, I’ve met plenty of amazing people that I never knew were out there. I realised that I am surrounded by a community of many who are doing what little they can and together, we do make a huge difference. Between January 2019 and today (25 June 2019), we have removed 694.5 kg of plastic waste from landfill and raised £974,31 for Canine Partners along the way.
And that’s not all. Together we have lobbied for change, raised awareness through our pop-up sustainable shops and we’ve even started a Sustainable Living Market that takes place every second month of the year and often sees more than 400 visitors pass through its door. I am still discovering new and wonderful examples of community in action in my area, such as the Hampstead Norreys Community Shop who recently won the Countryside Alliance Rural Oscars for the South East as well as best rural shop in Britain.
So, after reading the above, are you still thinking that you can’t make a difference? Well, come and see me at GreenFest on 7th September in Hampstead Norreys. We can talk and figure out how 10 minutes out of your day or even a small change in your shopping habit, can kick that tiny snowball into running down the hill. Mine is still running down the hill but it’s now giantosaurus-snawballous-rex that just keeps rolling.
That tiny change, that little thing, can be huge if we do it together.