Many people will have heard about the devastating effects that plastic is having on our environment and wildlife, thanks to publicity from far-reaching media efforts such as "Blue Planet 2". However, awareness alone will not fix the issues, the time to take action is long overdue. These are not problems that we should shy away from and ignore, or pass down to a future generation, as each year that passes only worsens the problem.
Plastic washed up on a beach in north-west Scotland ©Jake Graham
The plastic that ends up in our Oceans is often viewed as a global problem that is too challenging to tackle locally with any meaningful impact. This is not true and is the type of mentality that we are trying to change. All plastic has a source, the waste was not manufactured in the Ocean and didn't end up there by a stroke of misfortune. Changes made in consumer behaviour locally affects change globally, and the plastic in our Oceans respects no borders and boundaries.
With its rich history and venerable reputation, the beautiful town of St Andrews is as good of a place as any to be a catalyst for change. We are calling for our town to band together so that we can establish a successful and working model for others to follow.
Our Clean & Green team regularly patrol the streets and beaches of our town, and have a first hand view into the plastic waste and litter problem right here on our doorstep, much like many other towns and villages up and down the Country.
Clean & Green demonstrating some of the plastic rubbish in St Andrews
Our vision is for a unified effort across every hotel, restaurant, pub, and café in the town - Ditch the plastic cutlery, straws, drink stirrers, and utensils. We understand that some of the more stringent businesses in town may be concerned with their margins and bottom line, and one of our challenges is making people aware that cleaner alternatives do exist which don't break the bank.
There are a number of alternatives to plastic for most of the items which are contributing to the problem:
Stirrers: A favourite of coffee shops and cafés throughout the town. We think these are great, but why must they be plastic and adorned with superfluous logos?
Well in our experience, they don't need to be. We have found there to be negligible price differences in wooden and plastic stirrers, with wooden options being cheaper in some cases, and slightly more expensive in others.
Straws: Our "Say No to Straws" campaign highlighted the problems we face with plastic straws, but what alternatives are out there?
Steel and paper straws are viable alternatives, with steel being re-usable once cleaned. Paper straws are excellent replacements for one time use, as they can maintain their rigidity long enough to drink, without the long term damage on the environment that comes from plastic straws.
Cups: Most people enjoy a nice cup of coffee, tea, or some warm soup. We do too, but what we don't like is the unnecessary use of plastic cups. Are there any alternatives out there?
Paper cups come in all shapes and sizes and are readily available for most use cases. In an ideal world, people wouldn't opt for single use items at all, but in situations where they are required, we recommend options such as vegware's plant based cups.
Bags: The Scottish Government introduced a 5p surcharge on plastic bags back in October 2014, and this has had a huge impact on the reduction of carrier bag usage, but is there anything else we can do to further improve the situation?
Many supermarkets are offering a 'Bag for life', which is a slightly more expensive carrier bag that customers are encouraged to buy once and re-use for future shopping trips. We think this is a great concept and have found many of these types of bags to be large and durable, with the added benefit that these bags can be used for other purposes than grocery shopping.
If you have any questions or wish to clarify anything, feel free to Contact us and we will endeavour to get back to you.