The Planetary Health Diet was unveiled last week. Will this feed 10 billion people, save 11 million a year from starvation and do less damage to the planet than we are presently doing? Or, will it be another also ran along with Banting, Atkins and the Mediterranean diets?
Diets used to be simple, cut out bread and potatoes and you were on diet. Recycling programs used to be simple too. Now there is so much noise that after a while the average person just gives up.
Both The Planetary Diet and recycling programs have worthwhile goals. No rational person will argue the benefits of either. It is when one investigates more closely that the noise becomes deafening. There are so many claims and counter claims (remember when Banting arrived) that it is difficult to find the truth. In the end the decision is based on personal choice, not science.
Recycling programs used to be simple, but now there is so much noise people just give up
Recycling is catching on worldwide and that is a good thing. There is however no single clear message at the moment and we move from one debate to the next. Single use plastic – especially straws – and compostable versus non compostable bags are good examples. All the while the average person is becoming more confused.
A lot of it is greenwashing. When you are proudly offered a compostable straw with your next restaurant meal try asking the waiter whether the restaurant recycles the straw after use. The answer, if the waiter knows, is likely not. Greenwashing aside there are a host of contradictory programs on recycling.
PET – the plastic bottles containing your cold drinks – are recyclable, except if they are green or blue or brown. That has more to do with market demand than recyclability. A lot of other items are recyclable but only if clean, dry and flat. Does that mean I need to wash the bottles and tins I put out for recycling. The answer is no, but there are exceptions.
If a plastic bottle is green, blue or brown, they are NOT recyclable
The problem is exacerbated by some industry organizations, retailers and producers. Each is promoting its own agenda. Some of the messages which they put out are misleading and conflicting. The latest is the debate about biodegradable bags – what is a biodegradable bag? The experts cannot agree let alone the producers and retailers.
Consumers lack of a single, simple mantra which they can understand and act upon. This will take time to develop because it means a number of different players need to agree upon. I have more hope that the experts on diets will agree a single, simple mantra.
In the meantime the best we can do is to offer nature’s advice – recycle everything if you can.