End of life. What it means for your life.
Author Martin Dorey on 22.11.2019
Have you ever thought what your life would be like if you still had every bit of stuff you ever bought? If you kept hold of EVERYTHING after you had finished with it, how big would your house have to be? Think of all the toys and games, the plastic bags you’ve used and thrown away and the clothes you’ve worn out and disposed of. And then there are the white goods and the gadgets.
Your home would be a hoarder’s paradise! A junk yard.
Now think about what you’d have to do to get rid of all that stuff. What will happen to it when you have finished with it? Can it be made into something new? Will it degrade, and will it degrade safely?
This is the tricky bit. Everything we use in our lives has to have an ‘end of life’ at some point. For some products, like takeaway coffee cups, that’s about 10 minutes after you’ve bought it. Then what happens to it? Something has to. Otherwise it just goes into a hole in the ground with the rest of the 2.5bn coffee cups that are disposed of in the UK each year.
We might be able to throw things away, but really, there is no away. We know that because our plastic is washing up on our beaches and entangling our wildlife, our wet wipes are clogging up our sewerage systems causing floods in our homes, and households using disposable nappies are doubling the amount of waste they produce each day. And then there are the coffee cups.
It’s coming back to haunt us.
But what if we’d thought about its end of life at the beginning of its life with us? Surely we’d have made better buying decisions. Would we have taken a reusable bag with us to the supermarket sooner? Would we have bought a keep-cup years ago? Would we have bought more wonky veg wrapped in mud instead of plastic?
And would we choose to wrap our children in disposable nappies if we’d have to be confronted with all those we’d used – all of them – every day for the rest of our lives? I think we’d find another way. I think we’d seek out products that we can dispose of properly. I think we’d choose to compost, just like we compost our veg peelings, so that new life can come from it.
It’s the least we could do for all those little lives that will one day inherit our planet.
Author Martin Dorey – the founder of the global #2minutebeachclean movement, writer and beach lover.