Why Ron thinks progress might not be a good thing after all

Grandad Ron and Alice talk about the dolphin Hope, who’s been adopted by Solo Expenses, and wonder what they can do to help keep the world just a little bit tidier…

“What kind of homes do these people actually live in? They can’t be full of rubbish, can they? Or perhaps they are,” Ron said crossly as he picked up another plastic bottle from the street outside his home, putting it with the cardboard that had once held a portion of fries and the paper bag they’d all be supplied in.

Stumping grumpily to his recycling bin, Ron shook his head. Granddaughter Alice skipped behind him. “Why are you cross, Grandad Ron? The people who ate the fries don’t want the packet any more.”

“No little one, they don’t. But neither does anyone else. It’s just not right to toss rubbish into the street. It should go in a proper bin, so that it can be tidied away properly. Like that,” he said, slamming the bin’s lid. “All of that will be taken away and made into new things. New cardboard, and all kinds of things can be made with plastic bottles. It’s called recycling.

“When I was your age…”

“That was a long time ago,” said Alice.

“Yes. When I was your age, things we bought didn’t have lots and lots of plastic and cardboard packets. Things came in paper bags, and drinks came in glass bottles that could be used again and again. I don’t think investing plastic bottles was ever a good idea. Or at least, the people who thought of it didn’t think it through. The plastic never goes away; there’s just more and more of it all the time.”

Fishing into his pocket, he pulled out his phone and scrolled through the images on its screen. “Look here,” he said, finding what he wanted – a picture of a swirl of wasted plastic sloshing about in the middle of the Pacific. “This is all plastic that people didn’t want, so they just threw it away. It’s huge. Even huger than huge. It’s bigger than Texas.”

“What’s a Texas?” she asked. Ron realised that, being five, she had no conception of how big Texas was. “Even bigger than an elephant,” he said. “And the ocean doesn’t want it either. By now Alice’s eyes were as round as Oreo cookies. “But what will happen to it, Grandad? Will anyone pick it up? We could go. We have bin bags we could put it in.”

Ron smiled at her. “That’s the right idea, but we’d need a big ship, and a lot of bin bags, and a lot of people to help us. Its thousands of miles away.”

They sat quietly for a moment, contemplating that task. Ron broke the silence: “What we can do is to think about it, and every one of us can think about what we should do about looking after the world. It’s like looking after our homes, and keeping those tidy.

“There are all sorts of things we can do. We can clear up after ourselves, and put things in the bin. And we can help to make other people think about it too. Solo Expenses has sponsored a dolphin. It’s called Hope, which is a very good name.

Making a difference together, with Solo Expenses
“You see, the kind people at Solo Expenses are just like us. None of us can make things perfect on our own, but if we all try to do just a little bit, then together we really can make a difference.

“As well as adopting the dolphin, Solo Expenses regularly gives money to very deserving causes. I write blogs for them about it sometimes. And because the money comes from selling their expenses management app, that means all of their customers are helping the good causes too.

“I’m proud to think that one or two people might think what we’re doing is a good thing, and decide to help too.”

Alice took his hand. “I think it’s a good thing, Grandad. Can I have a burger for lunch? I promise to put the things in the bin afterwards. Please, Grandad.”

The old man shook his head and smiled. “Only if you promise to eat it all, and if you have a burger for lunch there won’t be room for chocolate this afternoon. Is it a deal?”

“Deal,” she said. “Can we go now?”

“Not yet,” said Ron, smiling and shaking his head. “It’s only 10.30. Let’s see if we can find some more other people’s litter to pick up first. That might give us an appetite.”