You’re living on another planet if you haven’t heard about the worldwide efforts to reduce plastic waste and protect our wildlife but there’s still lots to be done. I’ve never been shy about raising issues with people and I would encourage others to do so, particularly to advance the cause of our animal friends. A few weeks ago, we went to the Royal Horticultural Society show at Chatsworth house which was great – except that just about every plant that was sold went into a plastic bag and, while there was no bottled water on sale on the site, I saw staff carrying plastic bottles. The amount of plastic going into the environment in those few show days must have been enormous, so I wrote to the RHS. I raised both issues and reminded them that at RHS Chelsea flower show a few weeks previously, Thames Water had a great initiative where they sold SIGG aluminium water bottles marked REFILL NOT LANDFILL at a knock down price and allowed guests to fill them at their water station.
This was the reply I received:
Thank you for your feedback and points on the environmental impact of our shows. I can confirm that we are working with our exhibitors to reduce the amount of plastic they bring onto site and offer paper bags that exhibitors can purchase at a reduced rate to try and prevent the use of plastic bags. We have banned the sale of drinks in plastic bottles, plastic straws, and plastic cutlery. With nearly all of our waste recycled in some format whether recycled or incinerated for fuel (this is minimal though).
We did have water points around the show where people could get water for free in their reusable bottles however we understand that these needed to be more clearly marked. Your suggestion for working with a local water authority, like at Chelsea, is a good idea and we will be looking into partnerships for future shows.
We are also working with sustainability consultants to look at ways we can further improve on all of this and other factors also.
I would like to stress how seriously we take all feedback both positive and negative. We log everything and the show managers use this to evolve our shows.
We will use your feedback in the post-show review in the coming weeks.
When I visited our local farm shop, they two were going through a boat load of plastic bags, so I wrote to them also. I had a very prompt and helpful reply from the management who promised to encourage customers to bring their own bags or purchase their branded reusable bags.
Often, businesses and organisations are so busy that environmental issues take a back seat until someone draws them to their attention. Our birds and mammals can’t speak for themselves so we should do what we can to speak on their behalf. Next time you’re offered a plastic bag, decline the offer and tell them why. Then, go the extra mile and try and do something more for nature by raising the issues with those who can make a difference.