IN the chaos of the government’s spending cuts it appears that the environment has been pushed off the agenda.

Certainly on the question of basic, personal sustainability we have gone backwards over the years.

Supermarkets are still handing out tons of plastic carrier bags when it is easy enough to be armed with the recycled cotton equivalent.

Tons of plastic is wasted as milk bottles – no longer in the town centre are the glass returnable bottles to be found – and the cardboard and polystyrene discarded in the fast food industry is phenomenal.

Despite recycling efforts, plastic bottles use vast amounts of energy to recycle, releasing fumes when burned or dumped in landfill.

We need to kick European law into touch and go back to wrapping fish and chips in newspaper.

Milk should only be made in glass bottles and returnable, supermarkets could add points to loyalty cards for the return of such items and pop bottles on a similar basis.

There is ample empty council-owned land that could be turned over to food production given the rising price of food while the vast amount of local water power could be harnessed to provide sustainable energy.

There was scant political will among self-serving politicians to deal with this before, but now in the days of austerity there is even more concentration on budgets and statistics and less on people or the environment.

Unregulated free market dogma once again not only damages human lives, but the environment as a whole.

Ian Brooke