Another blood donor session, another pint and another tale to tell. This is my fortieth, pint that is rather than story. I usually get excited about the changes that the NHS Blood and Transplant Service introduce. There seems to be something different every time I go, yet this time this was not the case. After the fairly momentous changes in the last year or so, the process remained the same.
I was given a chair at the far end of the hall, facing the nurse who was packing all of the blood into insulated boxes for transportation. Collecting blood is a highly complex process, much more so than I thought. The desk in front of her was covered in vials and boxes and bags.
They were all plastic.
It struck me how much plastic played a role in collecting blood. When I came in I was asked to drink some water from a plastic cup and sit on a plastic chair while reading a plastic covered leaflet. My blood was tested using a plastic handled needle, dropping blood into a plastic jar, all behind a plastic curtain. Later, I sat again in a plastic chair while my blood flowed through a plastic tube, into sample plastic vials and plastic storage bags. Eventually they were placed into a plastic insulated box.
The whole process is based upon the use of plastics, much of which could be defined as single use, and this demonstrated to me the complete addiction we have to the stuff. We have a long way to go to be cured of our reliance upon it.
I have great admiration for the strides that the NHS Blood and Transplant Service has made in improving the flow of its work but life does not stop. It has a new challenge to rise to, as do we all, and that is to consider how physical waste is reduced in the process.
A service that saves lives is at odds with one that is damaging to the environment. I look forward to their progress.