Becky Ingamells
This is a rubbish blog

This is a rubbish blog because our world has a rubbish problem, and it’s hitting people living in poverty the hardest.

You've probably heard about plastic being bad news for wildlife or the oceans, but what you might not have heard is the huge impact this same issue is having on some of the world’s poorest people. Let me explain with some rubbish numbers, and then inspire you to join in with a powerful and not-so-rubbish solution. Maybe this blog won’t be so rubbish after all.

Rubbish problem

Today, two billion people in the world’s poorest countries are living and working among piles of waste because their rubbish isn’t collected. That means they’re drinking polluted water, breathing toxic air, and battling sickness. All of this causes up to a million deaths a year, or to put it another way, that’s one person dying from diseases caused by waste every thirty seconds - and each day the waste mountains are growing.

Daiane Maria is 23, and lives with her sister and family in Recife, Brazil. She told us, ‘It only has to rain and everything floods. A lot of rubbish comes down the river… What I see most are water bottles and fizzy drink bottles, the type of bottles that are not returnable.’

When all the waste comes down the river, it blocks waterways and causes people’s homes to flood. Plastic waste like this also creates a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Daiane says, ‘When it floods, everyone gets diarrhoea and sickness. Just this week I had to help my daughter, who was vomiting. Another problem is the rats. There are lots of rats. I get very down, but there is nothing I can do about it, because I don’t have anywhere else to go.’

Daiane’s community isn’t the only one affected by plastic waste. Big global companies like CocaCola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever are making this rubbish problem worse around the world.

These companies make so much of the stuff we eat and use in the UK, but they also sell billions of products in single-use plastic packaging in poorer countries where waste isn’t collected. And they know full well that people will have no choice but to burn this rubbish – which also contributes to climate change – discard it in waterways, causing flooding, or live among it, where disease can grow and spread.

Not-so-rubbish solution

Daiane says, ‘If I could send a message to the companies, it would be to tell them to stop throwing rubbish our way.’

This rubbish situation can change, if we act together. When we steward the earth’s precious resources wisely, we can all flourish. We can all drink clean water. Breathe fresh air. Enjoy good health. Our rubbish can be reduced and reused – and this can bring good, safe jobs to the poorest communities.

We can say to companies: ‘Don’t be rubbish.’ We can look at our own lifestyles at home and at church too, and reduce our own rubbish. When we do, we are valuing what God has given us and following Jesus in loving our neighbours and caring for creation.

That’s why we believe this rubbish campaign from Tearfund will change lives. Will you join in?

Add your name to the petition to call on CocaCola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever to take responsibility for their rubbish, and pledge to reduce your own waste at home too:

Don't be rubbish, get involved

Becky Ingamells is Church Partnerships Manager at Tearfund.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by guest contributors are those of the author. Although broadly in keeping with the objectives of Jubilee+, the views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Jubilee+ team and directors and/or other contributors to this site.