Reducing plastic in our pursuit of food

Paul Stubbins introduces Lancaster’s Sea Straw campaign in this week’s food column.

With Spring on its way, many of us will be cutting back and tidying in our gardens and thinking about what to sow this year. Even if you are not planning on growing your own food, you will certainly be buying and eating it, so why not take stock and think about how we can feed ourselves with less harm to the environment. Reducing our consumption of plastics is an important part of this. The world manufacture of plastics is still on the increase despite our knowledge of the damage it is set to do as it heads to landfill, or worse still, ends up as micro-plastics in our oceans.

Plastic can remain in the environment for over 2,000 years. It does not biodegrade but instead fragments into tiny pieces. Over 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean every year. Frighteningly, if we don’t do something about it, it has been estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. Plastic products leach toxins into our water and microplastics enter the food chain. It also gets mistaken for food and fed by seabirds to their young.

plastic

Happily, there are easy steps that we can take in our food world this year, starting with avoiding plastic packaging, whether this be black plastic pots from the garden centre, or plastic packaging of your food. Why not take your own terracotta pots to the garden centre with you, to bring back your new plants? You can also re-use compost bags, plastic labels and use yoghurt pots for planting seeds. We all know to use re-fillable plastic bottles these days, and hopefully we will see more water fountains appearing in our town. Simply don’t buy single use plastic cutlery, and finally, for this week’s column, say no to plastic straws!

There is an excellent campaign, Seastraw, that is encouraging restaurants and bars to reduce their use of single use plastics, so you enjoy your night out happy in the knowledge that you aren’t polluting the world. Watch out for certificates of pledges to reduce plastics in bars in town. Many places are already on board with this, but why not be the change rather than waiting for it to happen? I challenge you this year to refuse all straws, or at least to check that they are paper or compostable before they hit your glass. We can all help to eat and drink our way into a better future. Who wouldn’t raise their glass to that!?

 

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