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Lemon posting TFUK24 68833

Why I sent a lemon to the government – and so should you

In association with: Tearfund UK

The Australian Government has gone quiet at a critical stage in the plastics treaty talks. Big polluters and vested interests are resisting efforts to develop a world-changing plastics treaty.

Tearfund Rubbish Send A Lemon TALP0064

This is a critical moment, yet the 64 countries calling themselves the High Ambition Coalition – which includes our own government – have not spoken up together when we need them most.

For people living in poverty, forced to live and work among mountains of plastic pollution, there is no time to waste. The UK Government is also part of the High Ambition Coalition.

You can help! Join us in sending the Australian Government a remedy to help them vocalise their ambition today!

Here, Lucy Marson from Tearfund UK explains why she sent a lemon to her government to help it vocalise its ambition – and we show you how you can do the same:

When life gives you lemons, use them to advocate for change. That’s the saying, right? Let me explain…

Over the past year, Tearfund has been campaigning on plastic waste through the Rubbish Campaign. We’ve been calling on world leaders to ensure the ongoing UN global plastics treaty talks tackle the impacts of plastic pollution on people living in poverty.

In the UK, plastic waste generally goes into the bin and is immediately out of sight and out of mind. At least, that’s how I used to view my waste. But this changed when I spent three months on a Tearfund volunteer trip in Bangladesh.

I remember standing in the colourfully painted house where we were staying and taking off my make-up with a disposable wipe. I put the wipe in the bin in my room and thought no more of it.

Some hours later, as the sun started to set, I decided to go for a walk around the local streets and came across a small pond littered with rubbish. There were shiny sweet wrappers and crisp packets, but it was something else that caught my eye. I spotted what must have been my make-up wipe.

With no formal waste collection for many in Bangladesh, people have no choice but to dump or burn their rubbish. In our case, it went straight into the pond. That wipe of mine could contribute to the plastics problem for another 100 years, as it slowly breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.

This moment changed the way I consume. I realised that my waste doesn’t just disappear when I put it in the bin. It continues to have an impact that is often damaging to both people and the planet. Ever since, I have been gradually reducing my plastic waste where I can, for example swapping disposable face wipes for reusable face cloths.

What I saw in Bangladesh is the daily reality for the two billion people around the world who have no safe way to dispose of rubbish. This means people are forced to live and work among piles of waste. Burning it releases toxic fumes and makes people sick, dumping it floods communities – all of which causes up to a million deaths each year. That’s equivalent to one person dying every 30 seconds.

This is why we have been calling on governments and companies to end this rubbish problem. Right now we are at a critical stage in the plastics treaty talks. Big polluters and vested interests are resisting efforts to develop a world-changing treaty. As part of the negotiations, there are 64 countries that are part of the High Ambition Coalition, but despite this encouraging title, they are failing to speak up together when we need them most.

Rubbish Bangladesh
People without any safe way of disposing of their rubbish are forced to dump or burn it. In Parbatipur municipality, Bangladesh, the waste piles up around a pond. Photo: Magnet Jambil/LAMB.

This left me wondering: how could I send a message to the High Ambition Coalition asking them to use their voices for change? I knew it needed to be attention-grabbing so pen and paper weren’t going to cut it. Enter the humble lemon.

When I’m feeling under the weather with a sore throat, my favourite remedy is a squeeze of lemon and honey stirred into a mug of hot water. The High Ambition Coalition seem to have gone quiet, so what better way to help them clear their throats and speak up than sending them their own lemon tonic!

Armed with my lemon, a written recipe for a soothing remedy and a large envelope, I wrote to Steve Barclay MP, Secretary of State for the Environment (DEFRA) in the UK. I shared why it is so important that the UK, as members of the High Ambition Coalition, use their voice to ensure the Coalition speaks up for an effective, binding treaty that tackles plastic pollution. I also explained why this issue matters to me: because I want to be part of a world where people and nature can thrive, not drown in plastic.

But my lemon alone may not be enough to get the High Ambition Coalition's attention. So why not join me in helping to cure the Coalition’s sore throat by sending them a lemon or your own choice of remedy?

If, like Lucy, you'd like to help the members of the High Ambition Coalition to clear their throats, join us in sending the Australian Government a remedy to help them vocalise their ambition today!

Please let us know that you’ve taken action by emailing [email protected] so that we can have a good idea of how many letters the Minister for Environment and Water will have received.

Take action - send a lemon!

Photos: Tom Price/Tearfund