PLASTIC GETS THE CHOP
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.