A man on a mission.
Let’s listen to what he has to say.
Hello Mr. Bin. Nice to meet you. Who are you?
Hi I’m Edmund Platt from Leeds in the UK. I’m a business English coach in Marseille and co-founder of 1 Piece Of Rubbish
So your profession is teaching English in France. What is the best thing about your job and what is the biggest difficulty for French students ?
The best thing about my job is that I’m the boss and have a good reputation so I can choose my clients. Most of my students have immediate needs for professional reasons so they are very very motivated…which in turn keeps me motivated. The biggest difficulty for French students is lack of confidence. The French in general always want to be the ‘best’ so when they have to speak English or any foreign language they have an added pressure to excel. I think they are over criticized at school in all subjects and this leads to a lack of confidence later in life.
You are English. Can you tell what it means to be English ? For how long have you been living in France and what would you say is the main difference between living in England and living in France ?
I’m English, and will always be English simply because I was born there. I’ve no intention of changing my nationality for any other. I consider myself simply a man of the earth like any other man. To be English means white legs, BBQs in the rain, looking after your neighbour, politeness and pride.
I’ve been living in France for over 6 years now and I love it. I love the way everyone wants to cheat the system. Administration here is so complicated and time consuming. Everyone moans about the bureaucracy here, without it they wouldn’t have anything to say to each other. No that’s not true there will always be the corrupt politicians and the footballers sextapes to talk about.
There are lots of differences between France (Marseille) and England. Food, language, music, education, social status, politics, climate etc… For me, there is too much focus on image and public opinion and also a lack of individuality. Check the way people dress in winter all in their black leather jackets or puffer coats. It’s far too sheep-like for me. In the UK people express themselves with their own style and are more liberal. Just this lunch time a French friend said, ‘the French are not interested in new cultures or people’. He was referring to people having a drink in a bar in the UK where everyone mixes and talks to each other, like for example the banker talking to the punk… In France the banker wouldn’t even piss on the punk if he was on fire!!! I think the British are more open-minded than the French. Two years after Brexit most French people I now meet think that we made the right decision.
Now you are on a mission. Was there a special situation that led to the idea of starting this initiative of collecting one piece of rubbish per day or how come?
Since August 2015 www.1pieceofrubbish.com has evolved into an extraordinary adventure. It all started with a simple can of coke, my telephone and a photo on Instagram. Now we are 200,000 people around the world cleaning streets, parks, rivers, woods and beaches to protect the planet. I think it’s logic that every citizen picks up 1 Piece of Rubbish per day… EVERYDAY and that we start taking responsibility of OUR planet. I’ve thrown loads of cigarette buts on the floor and cans of beer in peoples’ gardens…. I AM GUILTY… SO ARE YOU !!!
Now it’s time to react the rapidly growing problem of plastic pollution which is man’s primary threat: If the oceans die, we die – Paul Watson Sea Shepherd.
As you know we consume far too much.
As you know there is too much packaging on the things we buy.
As you know we live in a consumer society.
As you know we eat too much meat and in France the average meal travels 1200km before reaching our plate; in America it’s 2000km.
As you maybe didn’t know 80% of all trash in the sea comes from the land so it’s really our responsibility to change our habits and the way we treat our ecosystems.
Is there something remarkable about the “nature” of rubbish that you have noticed on your road trip?
During 8,000km hitchhiking around France this summer 2017 I noticed that in every city, village park, lake, river, beach, motorway, carpark, people throw their trash out of their cars. It’s a disgusting disrespectful habit that is the number 1 route of plastic cancer. It’s having a devastating effect on our seas and oceans and 1,5 million animals die each year due to our poor habits and dirty actions.
What is your message?
We have 2 simple messages : “Don’t be a Tosser” and “Pick up 1 Piece of Rubbish per day”
We’re creating a human barrier between trash and nature. It’s extremely impressive to see so many new people everyday engaging with nature and taking care of their surroundings.
What is your personal definition of poverty ?
My definition of poverty is when the rich get richer and the poor die through greed and American economics.
And of wealth ?
My definition of wealth is when you have enough of something to share it with others.
Do you have an idea how to stop pollution other than by educating consumers not to throw their rubbish away? Would it help to have more laws ? What is the use of so much plastic all around? As a German living in France I can say that even after years of wondering, I am still very impressed by the amount of plastic I am surrounded by every day. If I come home from the supermarket with four bags, one is just paper and plastic – and I don’t see any realistic chance to easily escape it, that is so silly. When I buy cakes for the kids’ daily goûter, I am frustrated because nearly everything I find is wrapped in foil once or twice. Even bio products are wrapped in plastic. I remember that I once bought a frozen product that contained 4 parts: each part was wrapped in plastic and all four were put in a plastic bag in a paper box so in the end I had more volume of packaging than food.
It is somehow understandable that it is handy for logistics and stores and many people have limited time or budget, but there must be better ways to manage this supply chain thing ….. there is need for change in the industry. Isn’t there something wrong with society, too? It all needs to be fast and available, beautiful, perfect, comparable, even if it is just a lie, filtered reality, a GMO crap, something unreal and supernatural or tricked to make it look bigger or better. Things and people are requested to be comparable, suitable, boxed but outstanding, out of the box. How strange is this? Can you explain why it has come this far, I mean when have the ugly but tasty tomatoes lost their right to be chosen? Will it be a good idea to go back to little markets or are there better options?
I think you’ve partly answered your own question. Even when you shop ‘vegan’ loads of products are still wrapped in plastic and that cheap plastic foil. Do a little test : If the wrapper stays scrunched in your hand it’s foil, if the wrapper opens into it’s original shape after scrunching, then its plastic.
It’s still very expensive to shop bio unfortunately. I’m not perfect and don’t pretend to be, I spent 18€ on carrots, beetroot, fennel and cucumbers last week I felt completely ripped off. If you’re poor, you eat cheap processed Monsanto shit, if you have a bit of awareness and some extra cash you can afford to eat responsibly. It is so difficult, I hope this circular economy speeds up and access to regionally grown products become the norm and not a luxury.
There are ‘vrac’ shops where you can buy food without packaging just look at vrac on google. Zero waste is the term in English. I’m not the best advocator. I try, but it’s not my specialist subject.
What is the most valuable thing you have had during your early days?
The luxury to have quite extensively travelled with my family. South Africa, France, Spain, Tunisia, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland. It’s priceless to discover other cultures and traditions. Let’s not forget the fun and adventure when you travel on big planes, fast trains and immense boats towards new horizons.
What kind of child were you? The one with messy hair and dirty knees or more like the daydreaming, drawing kid, that doesn’t move much and dances with its thoughts?
I was the last of 4. I had freedom, elders to look up to and try to impress, and was always pushing the boundaries.
What would you say is the most important thing parents can give to their child [besides love and shelter]?
Positive energy, encouragement, confidence. Too many friends didn’t have these things and it shows in later life.
What is it that really matters in life?
Freedom, kindness, respect for the planet… and beer. There would be no point in the first three without the last one.
If there was something not enough of or missing in the modern world, what would that be?
One true saying in no matter what language:
Be the change you want to sea in the world – Ghandi
You have travelled a lot. What was the most impressive place you ever went as a tourist, and why?
In 2003 after 2 weeks in California we went to Las Vegas for 3 nights. It was a revelation for me because I realised for the first time that money was the creator of all evil. Since that experience I don’t put pressure on myself to have lots of money and lots of material things (I’ve earnt 80,000e per year and partied 8 days a week). I became more human after 24 hours in Vegas. I recommend it to all of you !!!
When you toured around France to raise awareness for our environment and your 1 piece of rubbish per day – project you hitch-hiked. Was there a lesson you’ve learned about people ?
Yeah most people don’t stop to help you go from A to B. Most people are scared of other people. Most people have never really helped a stranger in their entire life. Most people don’t really know what kindness is. Fortunately, there were enough people who know how to live and have a sense of adventure, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience because even if I waited 3 hours on the side of the road for a lift I knew that the person who stopped who be the coolest kindest person of the day or of that moment. People ARE amazing…. they just need to be more amazing more often and less scared.
What was the most impressive situation you faced on this 8000 km journey ?
Being welcomed into the home of former refugees who have left Kurdistan because their country no longer exists. They were the most generous of people, Razgar is now a friend and I would love to visit him again near Rennes. I have had numerous contacts with the effects of Millennial War and it has changed me like Las Vegas. When someone picks you up and says 2 years ago their entire village was bombed and all their friends are dead you immediately put things into perspective.
When you close your eyes, where do you go?
To the recycling centre
Do you like Art? What does it mean to you?
Freedom of expression, I like street art and encourage anyone who has a message to go and express themselves in the streets.
Have you ever been to Germany? Where? What would be the word or colour to use if there was just one to describe your stay? Btw my town is Hamburg and that is the twin town of your town: Marseille. I think they could need some cleaning, too. Have you ever heard about Hamburg? It is the self-proclaimed “gate to the world”. Would you like to go there?
I lived in Rattingen for 7 months in 2004 near Düsseldorf. It was super. I was managing 12 sales people and we had a great time. German work ethics are impressive. I loved the night life in the old town, taking the tram, German Altbier (not Kölsch). Driving at 240kmph in my Mercedes on the Autobahn. German steaks are the best. Weekends on the Mosel. Nudist saunas and swimming pools. I didn’t [like German /Editor”s note] music or German racism. In 1999 I did the Munich Beer Festival… I think !!! [Oktoberfest / Editor”s note]
Do you have a favourite Art of Expression?
Do you have a favourite colour?
What is your favourite song/singer/music? What means music to you?
I grew up with Boney M, The Beatles, Mozart and Michael Jackson. Music is art, and art is expression so the more intelligent artists there are in the world, the better.
What is beauty?
Beauty is inner peace
Love is… Giving
Family means… Roots and a reason to be thankful.
Friendship means… reliability, good times, trust
Freedom is… the ability to choose
If you were to speak to the young, aspiring or dreaming, you’d say…. Take risks, always make new mistakes, be yourself because everyone else is taken. Try everything once !
If you could freely go back and forth in time, what direction would you take first and why?
I’d go forward and recover the solutions of the future and implement them as quickly as possible. Always looking forward for collaborative solutions.
If you lived in a castle up on the hills, who would you invite to a 7 course dinner with you sitting on the other end of that long, very long table, and why?
Mandela would be my choice. He’d explain his combat, his motivation, his composure and ability to unite people, I would listen in ore of this great freedom fighter.
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