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Plastic in the hills

As I walk through Edale, I’m baffled by the amount of plastic that appears along the roads after a sunny Sunday: water bottles, chocolate wrappers, fast food containers, coffee cups, crisp packets. Plastic bags fly up into the trees and flutter for days among the branches before tearing into shreds. Bits of litter nestle among the heather and bilberries. Visitors to Edale and other places in High Peak surely come here because it’s beautiful. So why do some cover it in this unnecessary garbage? High Peak means home to many of us – I doubt if the litterers throw rubbish into their own backyards.

Since it’s my backyard, along with other middle-aged women I’ve spoken to, I sometimes pick the litter as I walk along the roads and put the appropriate bits into my domestic recycling bin, but it’s hardly an enjoyable or effective response.

I’m particularly puzzled by the water and soft drinks bottles. Most people are aware that plastic doesn’t degrade. Everyone must be aware that water in bottles costs money. Recycling bottles still uses energy and other resources, and only around half the plastic bottles in the UK are recycled. And the solution to the bottle problem is so simple: tap water. I’ve been told that the tests applied to UK tap water are more rigorous than those for bottled water, so there’s almost no risk of getting ill from drinking it. In High Peak at any rate the water you put in your own bottle won’t have travelled far from its clean natural sources. The water has to have a container – and any fancy flask or posh water bottle will soon make up for its costs in money saved. All in all, buying water and so generating plastic waste makes no sense. Banning bottled water completely might be controversial, but not buying it seems glaringly obvious.

As for the rest of the plastic waste – I could rant on about making your own sandwiches (reducing carbon emissions by up to half, according to the Guardian ), eating less chocolate, putting sugar in your coffee (also carried in a flask of course) rather than buying energy drinks…. But plastic water bottles are the quickest win, which could lead on to other things.

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