Friday - - Editor’s Letter - Natalie Long Edi­tor

Hi, my name is Natalie, and I have a prob­lem. I col­lect plas­tic cut­lery, and it’s be­come some­thing of an ob­ses­sion. Find­ing a plas­tic spoon in my desk drawer is a great start to my day, as it means I can en­joy my yo­gurt with­out mak­ing too much ef­fort – by that I mean walk­ing to the of­fice kitchen to ri­fle through me­tal cut­lery of un­clear ori­gins.

My goal of filling a cer­tain sec­tion of my drawer with the right col­lec­tion of uten­sils (main­tain­ing the cor­rect knife-to-fork ra­tio is the main chal­lenge) is not only id­i­otic, it’s dam­ag­ing to both my waist­line and the en­vi­ron­ment. I harp on to any­one who’ll lis­ten about re­cy­cling wa­ter bot­tles at home, and my pet peeve, the aw­ful­ness of ba­nanas wrapped in plas­tic at petrol sta­tions. I re­cy­cle pa­per used at my desk ev­ery night. But it’s taken me this long to re­alise how ter­ri­ble this cut­lery habit is for our beaches.

It’s thanks to artist Ma­rina De­Bris (not her real name, un­sur­pris­ingly, but it’s ef­fec­tive), who spoke to Anand Raj OK (see page 30) about her mis­sion to ed­u­cate people on the amount of plas­tic in the oceans. She uses said plas­tic, washed up on the shore, to cre­ate art and ‘fash­ion’ with a strong mes­sage. I’m com­mit­ted to stop­ping my col­lec­tion – to­day they go into the re­cy­cling bin. But it’s got to go be­yond that, of course: To­day my lunch came with two sets of plas­tic cut­lery, whether I asked for it or not. With the ever-grow­ing food de­liv­ery in­dus­try, this isn’t go­ing to go away soon (soft-drink straws are an­other beach-clog­ging cul­prit). As Ma­rina says, solv­ing this issue has to come from in­dus­try as well as con­sumers. I’ll put any plas­tic that crosses my desk into the re­cy­cling bin – but wouldn’t it be bet­ter if restau­rants stopped send­ing them in the first place?

With Earth Day to­mor­row, I’d love to see the UAE’s de­liv­ery com­pa­nies take this op­por­tu­nity to of­fer the op­tion to de­cline plas­tic cut­lery. Why not give me a dis­count for that, while you’re at it, or col­lect points in some kind of loy­alty scheme?

Of course there is so much more left to do – think about the plas­tic boxes your sushi, sal­ads and sand­wiches come in (per­haps the so­lu­tion is to eat more burg­ers – they tend to come wrapped in pa­per). Or, just cook at home and bring lunch to work in a glass con­tainer. Can I re­al­is­ti­cally do that? Hon­estly, with the best will in the world, very in­fre­quently. While I work on that, I’ll start by giv­ing my cut­lery col­lec­tion the chop.

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