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Plastic Free July?

You might think that because we live in Uganda, we live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Sadly you’d be wrong. Despite the fact that we now live in a country that from a global perspective has relatively low carbon emissions, personally, we are still disporportiante polluters.

When Joe and I got married, we tried to have an environmentally friendly wedding; second hand wedding clothes, eating off plates made from leaves, no flowers from hot houses or flown from overseas, (tricky in winter) and not flying anywhere for honeymoon. 11 years later, we nearly annually do long haul flights, drive a old diesel guzzling 4×4, and have three beautiful but emission heavy children!

We also BURN all our rubbish! Yes that’s right, there is no rubbish collection in Gulu. The reality is that rubbish collection here, is someone charging you to take your rubbish away to be dumped or burned out for your eyesight so you don’t have deal with it. As one friend discovered, that place might be on the street 30m up the road, from your house.

A dumping site near Namboole stadium
Photo published in the Daily Monitor by Michael Kakumirizi 

Plastic waste is a huge issue here. The National Environment Management Authority estimates that over 600tonnes of plastic is disposed of daily in Uganda. It is largely dumped in the street, or burnt. It makes me so sad as I walk past piles of rubbish everywhere. Little black plastic bags everywhere! Sadly, it’s getting worse not better. Plastic bottles are becoming ‘fashionable’ as the glass refillable ones, we typically use here are associated with ‘village’ life and poverty.

Having to burn our rubbish, certainly makes me conscious of what we buy. Knowing it’s going to have to go in ‘the pit’ certainly makes me think twice. If you have ever tried to burn a nappy you’ll be convert to cloth in no time. We still have long way to go though. So as it’s Plastic Free July, we are going to make an extra effort. Our main swap is going to be avoiding the small black plastic bags that people will give you, every time you buy ANYTHING! We carry shopping bags with us but somehow still manage to get plenty of these a month. I’ll let you know we go.

Want to join us? What will you swap?