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My little bit doesn't matter

About 50 years ago, as a young teacher, I watched a year 5 class present a very simple but effective assembly. I still remember it to this day and I sometimes wonder if it helped to shape me as the environmental activist that I have become.

Basically it consisted of each child in the class walking across the ‘stage’ individually discarding an empty crisp packet or sweet wrapper as they did so and saying, ‘my little bit won’t matter’. After 36 children had done that you can imagine what a mess was on the floor! That was followed by some talk from the teacher as to why each of us can make a difference and how every little action adds to all the other little actions for better or worse.

That is so true and even more so today. If every one of us consciously removed one single use plastic item from our daily lives, be it remembering to take a water bottle instead of buying one or a reusable cup for the ‘on the hoof’ coffee, or refusing to buy onions in a nylon net bag and opting for loose ones instead—the list is endless—it would all add up to a lot less plastic being manufactured.

The same idea applies to gardening. For example, if you’re in a garden centre always ask for peat free products and ask if they know if the plants have been sprayed with pesticides at the growers and if they say they don’t know, don’t buy them—but make sure they know why. Make your own compost and re-use pots multiple times.

At home, having one less shower a week or turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, all adds up to alleviating our dire water supply situation. In the Summer I have a bucket in the kitchen to collect all the water used for washing veggies or hands or rinsing things out instead of putting it down the sink. The garden won’t mind it being a bit dirty.

For saving energy we have been inundated with suggestions such as drawing curtains at dusk, turning down the thermostat one degree and turning off unnecessary lights and gadgets on standby.

Out shopping? Take a shopping bag or two is the first thing and refuse all plastic bags the shops try to give you. Buy what you need but treat yourself occasionally! The more packaged goods you buy, the more sorting out you’ll have to do at home, and knowing what refuse goes in which bin is often confusing.

So remember, your little bit DOES count. As Heather Small once sang, ‘What have you done today to make you feel proud?’

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