I remember a time when my mum would say we were living in a “throwaway society”!  Of course, she was talking about clothes when we would buy new instead of receiving “hand me downs” or any holes would be sewn or patched and worn again and again.   This is when food was fresh and real, and didn’t come in a packet, or wasn’t put in a microwave.  This is when we played outdoors, got dirty and had fun.  We didn’t have much, but we enjoyed the simple pleasures and appreciated what we had!  Sounding familiar?

This time last year, I was involved in many beach cleans.  Removing rubbish, but mainly plastic from the sand and the shores.  There were so many people helping and concerned about what we had been doing to our oceans and sea life.  Everyone was out in force and there was lots of awareness in the media everywhere you looked.  It was fantastic!  I was even involved in one event where all the local primary schools came as part of an overall project for Environment day.  This was so important for children to see directly the effect of simply not putting their rubbish in the bin and why they should recycle and use less plastic.

Supermarkets and businesses were also getting on board by reducing the amount of plastic they used.  Plastic bags were no longer available in the supermarkets, and less or no unnecessary packaging was on the fresh fruit and vegetables.  No more single use plastics! This was all fantastic.  Everything was going in the right direction.   Then in a flash it all changed!

At the beginning of lockdown and while we all remained within stages 0 through to 2, we once again began to appreciate the simple things in life, we saw the effect on our local wildlife being brave to come closer and we saw our seas and skies quiet and peaceful.   We realised how much we missed our loved ones that we could not see, and how easily it could be to perhaps never see some people again due to the virus and the restrictions. 

Now as we have moved into the new normal, while things are still very different and people are struggling to pay rent and buy food, we are nowhere near the normal we “enjoyed” before, there are many changes.  Some good, some bad. 

The main changes I see are going to my supermarket where we have to wear disposable gloves. Although, I believe as I write this that many supermarkets are not insisting on gloves any longer. We have to put our loose fruit and veg in individual plastic bags.  It is compulsory to wear a face mask. These are available in packs as they should only have one use for them to remain safe, unless you buy the reusable kind which are more expensive, but obviously kinder to the environment.

I went to the beach last week with my boyfriend and his daughter for the first time since March.  It was amazing.  I felt so free and relaxed.   Then we went for lunch.  The menus can no longer be like before, but are now like QR codes to be scanned.  The plates came with cling film over them, and the oil and vinegar etc came in individual single use containers.  Except my oil came in a tiny little bottle and was still too much for just one use.  What a waste and a cost for those that still have limits on capacity and are struggling to attract clients as we have no tourists here yet.

Then only yesterday, I saw a contrast in another bar where I had lunch with a friend.  No real sign of hygiene.  In fact, there was only one other couple there and when we arrived 2 of the tables had not been cleaned.  The waitress came with a grubby cloth and wiped it and that was it.  There was no hand sanitiser, only a little lemon wipe that came with the food.  While waiting on the food, we thought we would see just how clean the table was.  The answer as you can see, is not good.  I will not be returning there!

As mentioned in my previous blog, more and more of us are taking to cycling, and as a result, air pollution levels in Spain are at an all-time low.  However, according to Spanish ecologists have given dozens of the country’s beaches ‘black flags’ for being overly polluted.  The waste generated by the health crisis with waste from masks and gloves, poorly managed, are reaching beaches and seas are becoming more common.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, protective face masks and surgical gloves are polluting the sea, warn environmental campaigners.  Surgical masks and gloves are also littering coastal areas.  The Covid-19 pandemic is having a detrimental impact on the coast, due to careless management of plastic waste, according to Ecologists in Action.

Even worse than having to use plastic and so many “disposable throwaway” items is the disgusting abuse of how people think it is OK to leave them on the ground or in the car park or just anywhere they feel like.  Who do these people think cleans up after them? Do they not realise what they are teaching their children? Have they not given a thought to the environment?

We have turned into a “throwaway world”!

I welcome anyone´s own thoughts or experiences on this.