What's the biggest threat to the life on the planet? Boredom.

The threats are dramatic but - from Camden - still feel theoretical. And the things we can do to mitigate them are annoying and tedious. There's nothing more boring than being nagged about plastic and recycling, right?

Our eyes glaze and slip over even the most dramatic statistics: that every year we produce more plastic than the combined weight of all humans on the planet, that every minute of every day we dump the equivalent of a garbage truck of this plastic into the ocean.

And that this plastic shows up in snow and rainfall in seemingly pristine places worldwide; in the air we breathe and in human blood, colons, lungs, veins, breast milk, placentas and foetuses.

Ham & High: Sheila Hayman encourages people not to get complacent about recyclingSheila Hayman encourages people not to get complacent about recycling (Image: Sheila Hayman)

The UN is currently trying to get an agreement on limiting production, but the US and China won't sign up, partly because plastic - including a lot of fast fashion - is made from oil and Exxon Mobil and Saudi Aramco don't pay their lobbyists to sit on their hands all day long.

Recycling is messy, expensive and still almost all done by hand, in dreadful conditions in poor countries. There are better systems - even one that uses AI - but they require investment, which could be funded by a levy. But the current levies are paid by the people who make and fill the bottles, not by the producers, who could afford it - see above...

There are promising lines of research with microbes that break down plastic, but they're experimental and far from ready.

No, what needs to happen is something much more radical.

Less plastic, less packaging - which for now means buying in bulk, reusing containers - curing ourselves of the belief that one conditioner, one brand of olive oil, is different from another.

Not buying plastic things, especially things wrapped in plastic.

There are of course food deserts where it's impossible to find unpackaged produce, bulk staples or fresh fruit and veg. Hampstead and Highgate are not food deserts. We have both ritzy farmers' markets and cheap fruit and veg stalls for all pockets.

We also have food courts and pop-ups - perhaps due for a rebrand not as 'fresh and vibrant' novelties, but overpriced factories of disappointing food and massive piles of trash.

Ready for a challenge this existential? I hope so.