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The Queen of Green

By Larraine Roulston:

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, has officially declared war on plastic straws and bottles by eliminating them from the royal estate’s cafés, dining halls and catered events. It is thought that her awareness of plastic ocean pollution peaked while working with Sir David Attenborough during the filming of his conservation documentary that deals with wildlife in the Commonwealth. A spokesperson at Buckingham Palace stated, “Across the organization, the Royal Household is committed to reducing its environmental impact.” A new outline regarding waste is underway at the highest levels within the Royal Palace and comes with a “strong desire to tackle the issue.” Further greening plans at Buckingham Palace include adding solar
panels, improving energy systems and incorporating a composting system.

Attenborough is a longtime advocate for the environment. Through his film, Blue Planet II, a seven-part documentary, he highlights the wonderful ocean species and explores the disastrous
effects that our trash is having on the world’s waters. Fast Fact: Brits alone use over 7 billion disposable plastic water bottles annually and fewer than half are recycled.

The recent “Skip the Straw” movement didn’t end at the Royal Gates:

the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) also will be phasing out plastic straws and stir sticks by following the commitments made by Diageo,Pernod Ricard and Bacardi. Continued environmental SWA strategies include reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, prioritizing effective water management, embracing a circular economy in the supply
chain, and promoting sustainable land use.

In Uxbridge, Massachusetts, Brian Skerry, underwater photographer, journalist and activist for healthy seas, was quoted in British Columbia’s Victoria Times Columnist: “We are living at a pivotal moment in history right now. We understand the problems and we know the solutions. The choices we make right now — today and in the next few years — are going to determine the future of our planet for our children. If we don’t do the right thing, it’s going to be devastating.”  Fast Fact: U.S. annual consumption of straws would fill Yankee Stadium over 9 times.

The history of the straw began 150 years ago with a real straw made of ryegrass. My generation’s youth enjoyed the paper straw; however, like rye-grass, it often cracked or became mushy. By the 1960s, the plastic straw made its way into our culture to the point that addicted Americans now discard 1/2 billion straws a day. Colorful, strong and funky reusable plastic straws with loops as well were promoted, but they are hard to clean. As none are recyclable, the
plastic ends up either in a landfill, an incinerator, on the ground as litter or in the waterways.

We are entering an era to save marine life from the plastic straw! Many people now are opting to use their own reusable stainless steel or paper straws. In addition, innovators are finding solutions with sturdy compostable straws. The invention, Lolistraw, made from a seaweed-based material, is edible. Chelsea Briganti, one of the Loliware cofounders, states, “From our perspective, the way to get our community involved and the way to get the world excited about this new innovation is to embrace the fun.”

Regarding widespread advertisements, it’s time for communities to urge fast food corporations to eliminate straws, as well as feature reusable drinking cups and glasses.

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Larraine writes children’s adventure books on composting and pollinating. To order, visit  www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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