Jan/Feb: 3-minutes that could help change the world

By Dr Katy Johnson, FSA Communication consultant
As I child, I always wanted to change the world. It started with dreams of flying high above the clouds, in tight spandex and mask, with my cape flowing majestically behind me. Yes, at five changing the world meant being Supergirl and righting every wrong. As I grew, my dreams became earthbound but my aspirations were just as great. In my teens and twenties, I worked hard to become the next Jane Goodall or Dianne Fossy lending my voice to the voiceless species that were pushed to the brink because of human exploitation. Now as a mother who is closing in on her fortieth year, I am still passionate about changing the world, but I have learnt you don’t need to wear a cape or be the next Greta Thunberg to bring about positive change. Small, seemingly insignificant, actions can bring about great changes. I said no to coffee pods when I saw the landfill waste they create. I ensure my shower gel and face scrub do not contain microbeads and I buy teabags that do not contain plastic. Small, seemingly futile moves if you look at the magnitude of the plastic problem we currently face, that have the potential to bring about big changes if we all get on board.

There are some instances where plastic is unavoidable. High-density Polyethylene (HDPE) products are strong, durable and able to withstand serious punishment, making it the ideal vessel for transporting and storing the chemicals the Agri-forestry Sector relies upon. However, once emptied of its precious content, the characteristics that made it the perfect pesticide container also means it could potentially be around long after our grandchildren’s, grandchildren’s, grandchildren have long perished.

In a wonderful article for Issue Seven CropLife Circular 2020, which inspired this piece, Dr Gerhard Verdoorn stresses, “it is the duty of agri-sector to ensure plastics do not become pollutants.”. I would go one step further and say, “we are all duty-bound to ensure this”.

One of the first TIPWG Standard Operating Procedures I was asked to do, by then TIPWG Chair, Jacqui Meyer, was one on Pesticide Disposal that included the disposal of pesticide containers. To date, it remains perhaps the simplest SOP I have been asked to deliver. There was no need to breakdown the science into accessible chunks – it was straight forward and simple: finish using the contents – triple rinse – recycle.

Yet there are still those who choose not to recycle or send their containers to be recycled but fail to triple rinse.

Proposed legislation could mean properly triple rinsing and then recycling pesticide containers is no longer a ‘nice to do’ but a mandatory requirement that cannot be shrugged off because of cost implications of doing such. With a network of CropLife ‘container warriors’ (a.k.a. registered recycling service providers) across the country ready and approved to recycle triple rinsed containers, ensuring plastic from these essential pesticide vessels does not find its way into our rivers, streams and ultimately our oceans or into the hands of neighbours (using them to transport water), has never been easier. What is more, many of them offer this service for free, for more information on CropLife’s container warriors, click here for their article in full – page 13.

What happens to the containers? They are shredded and transformed into all manner of everyday items, from bin bags and fencing materials to garden furniture and mini scooters. All of which helps reduce the amount of ‘new’ plastic being created and keeps pre-used plastic out of our natural spaces, rivers, streams and seas.

This means all that is left to do is ensure the containers heading to recycling are ‘TRIPLE RINSED’ – the CropLife infographic illustrates just how simple this is. Triple rinsing is a process that takes no more than three minutes and really could impact the world we live in for the better. It also gives you the chance to live out your childhood dreams of being a superhero (cape optional) saving the world, one triple rinsed container at a time.

Photo by: Photo by Beth Jnr on Unsplash

/ Pesticide interest piece