Safe and sustainable waste management of self care productsBMJ 2019; 365 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1298 (Published 01 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1298
All rapid responses
I accept the general thrust of the article. The ability of most humans is, in my view, severely limited - they will do very little.
Here are a few simple things that we can ALL do.
Stop buying new clothes until threadbare. I practise that - though I have been described as being MEAN.
Revert from electronic media to paper. Remember that electronic devices are imported from halfway round the world. And when you send an email, you are more likely to send an email with errors you have failed to correct. One of my many failings.
Toilets. The water carriage system with flush. A boon? Yes. And down the Thames and other rivers, together with all the chemicals. New houses, new schools, university buildings, could make a start by building septic tanks. The bacteriological6ly safe liquid (effluvium) can be discharged into waste drains and will do no harm to man, bird or beast.
Until about sixty years ago, before modern engineering permitted building dirty big drains - here in the Fens, every house had its own septic tank (if the owner could afford it) or a cesspit. The cesspit was harmless - except when the contents seeped into surrounding land which might be used for growing flowers (safe) or lettuce (unsafe). Risk of E coli, Salmonella paratyphi.
Maybe this is a pipe dream. But I would appreciate criticisms.
Competing interests: I must be a waster of resources. Will try to do better.
With a rising awareness regarding the impact of plastic on our world, whether this be recyclable or otherwise, surely The BMJ has more to offer. The BMJ states it is “committed to reducing its environmental impact across all the areas in which it operates”. 1 Recyclable wrapping was adopted in 2017 for The BMJ.1 Yet, as has been highlighted in a recent BBC documentary “War on Plastic”, making plastic recyclable is not the answer to the current worldwide problem of plastic.2 The “recyclable” wrapping, is only recyclable with “bags at larger stores”. A step in the right direction, but, do we need plastic wrapping on our BMJs at all? Indeed, with more than 5 million copies of the BMJ distributed annually, one has to wonder what percentage of this packaging is recycled.
Current subscription rates vary, with a personal subscription rate for “online only”, being much cheaper than the “print and online” version, and rightly so. Yet, many of those clinicians who receive the BMJ do so because of their British Medical Association membership. This is the case for me, and I have now asked the BMA to change my membership type to an “online only” subscription. This was easily facilitated after requesting this change via email, but surely this environmentally friendly option should be encouraged and made clear to all BMJ subscribers, and BMA members.
As medical professionals, we have a responsibility to promote public health, and environmental sustainability is part of this. Yes, The BMJ is attempting to reduce its environmental impact, but there is still a long way to go. I look forward to hearing what other measures are being taken by The BMJ in order to both reassure its readers regarding its sustainability, and lead the way for other medical research journals.
1. The British Medical Journal. How Green is The BMJ. c2019. [Online]. [6 July 2019]. Available from: https://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/how-green-is-the-bmj
2. Hunter A. What’s the Answer to Our Plastic Problem? 2018. Greenpeace UK. [Online]. [6 July 2019]. Available from: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/whats-answer-plastic-problem/
Competing interests: No competing interests