Queen Elizabeth II has joined the war on plastics.
Buckingham Palace has announced that plastic straws and bottles will be banned from the Royal estates.
It’s all part of a new waste plan.
Plastic straws are set to be banned in staff dining rooms and faded out in all public cafes, where takeaway food containers will also be biodegradable. Only cups made of disposable paper or china will be permitted in Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Edinburgh’s Palace of Holyroodhouse.
A million plastic bottles are bought every single minute around the globe, and less than half of these are collected for recycling. Meanwhile, the US uses approximately 500 million straws every single day.
So, baby steps?
“Across the organisation, the Royal Household is committed to reducing its environmental impact,” said a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace. “As part of that, we have taken a number of practical steps to cut back on the use of plastics. At all levels, there's a strong desire to tackle this issue.”
And such “strong desire” for environmental impact was reportedly inspired by a familiar face.
According to the Telegraph, the Queen was motivated to act after befriending fellow beloved 91-year-old Sir David Attenborough, while he was filming a documentary in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
The documentary will be released later this year, and details the Queen’s initiative to create a global network of protected forests within the 52 countries of the Commonwealth — a collection of countries unified by culture and democracy. The plan aims to preserve indigenous forests for future generations, while highlighting the Queen’s legacy of leadership and service.
Sir David has made several impassioned pleas through his nature documentaries to implore the world to care more about plastic pollution — even depicting a scene of birds feeding baby chicks plastic in “Blue Planet”. It’s a job he’s excelled at for decades, and the message is finally breaking through.
The Queen is not the only one to have been inspired by the documentary maker.
2017’s “Blue Planet II” inspired Michael Gove, environmental secretary, to ban microbeads. Earlier this year, the government launched a 25-year “global gold standard” plan to eliminate all “avoidable” plastics in the UK by 2042. This plan is set to include extending the 5p bag tax to encompass all retailers, and the government is also considering bringing in a 25p tax charge on disposable coffee cups.
Prince Charles — Queen Elizabeth’s son and heir to the throne — has also regularly campaigned to protect the oceans. Indeed, Charles offered a multi-million cash prize with yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur for anyone who could find a practical new idea to keep plastic out of the water.
There are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic already in the ocean, and the world uses over 300 million tonnes of plastic every single year. There are more microplastics in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky War — and, sadly, if we carry on on our current trajectory, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.
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