It’s just over a week old, but 2018 is already shaping up to be quite a year for environmental news!
Yesterday marked the end of microbeads in the UK cosmetics. These tiny bits of plastic were used in facial scrubs, toothpaste, and other products to add gentle abrasion … with the added side effect of working their way from our home drainage and into water courses and the sea. This is a great start to removing unnecessary plastic from our lives. Stay tuned for future blog posts where I am planning to explore more things we can do at home to help minimise plastic and other packaging in the “Reduce Your Wasteline” series
The other topic that has people buzzing is the potential for a 25p “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups, with the possibility of single-use cups being phased out in 5 years. To me, this feels like a reasonable plan to tackle the problem by giving customers the chance to make the switch and establish the all-important habit of bringing a cup with them on the go.
Added to it I would like to see a 25p discount on those who bring reusable cups, which some coffee chains are already doing. The reason for this is to harness the power of psychology. It’s been shown that people feel a loss more than they do an equivalent gain. In other words, your emotions at losing £100 are greater than if you were to win £100. In this situation, those who are already using a reusable cup don’t necessarily need an incentive, but they at least get a small reward for their efforts. However, those who have a single-use cup would actually lose 50p with every purchase.
Also up for discussion is a deposit return scheme, where customers pay slightly more for a product but get a small amount back when they return it. In the countries that use this type of system, an incredible percentage of waste is returned for recycling. From personal experience, I can say that a scheme like this would reduce the amount of litter in Chippenham by approximately 50%. And while plastic bottles and plastic pollution are quite rightly in the news, aluminium cans must not be overlooked: they are the biggest category of recyclable we find in Chippenham.
And has my wish for a long-term environmental plan finally come to fruition? The Prime Minister is supposed to be detailing a 25-year environmental strategy tomorrow. I am keeping my fingers crossed (but not holding my breath) that it is a genuine action plan for improving the natural environment—not merely a way to score political points or distract from other problems. I have yet to see any of last year’s Litter Strategy put into practice, but perhaps Sir David and Blue Planet 2 will have been enough to not only propel the issue into the spotlight but also ensure that it gets acted upon.
So as 2018 continues to tick along, let’s do our best to make sure reducing unnecessary waste and cleaning up the country stays headline news.