Leave Your Tributes, but Take Your Plastic Home

I’m not a Royalist. I also don’t especially hold any strong opinions about whether the UK should be a republic. We’ve already had our Bristish Trump, thanks. Please, never again!

I would describe my feelings about Royalty in general as apathetic.

When people argue on Social Media about which member of the Royal family deserves their scorn this week, I roll my eyes and scroll past. (Spoiler, it’s usually the mixed-race American woman who bears the brunt of the vitriol).

When people get all excited and emotional because a member of the Royal family got married or had a baby – as if they were their own family – I just don’t get it.

However, it’s hard not to be at least a bit sad about the passing of a grand old lady who has shaped the world’s view of our little island. She’s been the one constant, shaping our national identity. Few of us remember a time when we weren’t Elizabethans.

It sounds weird hearing, ‘God Save the King’ and ‘King Charles III’. It’ll be really weird when we start getting coins and notes without the Queen’s Head on!

What I Do Have Strong Opinions About… Plastic

I may not have a strong opinion on the Monarchy, but what I do have a strong opinion on is plastic waste.

At the scene of any tragedy, when people lay flowers and wreathes of condolence, grief and respect, I find myself feeling disgusted by the sea of plastic nestled among the blooms.

When laying a floral tribute, few people consider they are leaving a toxic piece of trash in the environment.

That plastic wrapping from your bouquet will stay there for years.

It will flake off into micro plastics that pollute everything, down to a cellular level. As the flowers rot away, it will be picked up by wind and rain and carried off to pollute the natural environment, end up in water courses or killing wildlife.

Retailers Must Do More to Reduce Plastic Waste

Most of the cut flowers we buy in this country are imported from The Netherlands, wrapped in plastic for transportation.

A bunch of flowers lasts a week to 10 days, yet it’s delivered in packaging that takes hundreds of years to decompose, if at all.

It’s grossly disproportionate and unacceptable.

Most of us then buy those plastic wrapped flowers from a supermarket.

Yet more ways supermarkets can do better and how they bare so much responsibility for creating our throwaway society, then take zero responsibility for it. Instead passing the waste onto consumers and fobbing us off with ‘recyclable’ greenwashing nonsense.

Except, when it comes to cut flowers, they don’t even try, the cellophane that flowers come in is not recyclable. Even if it was, most of us deliver those flowers in the packaging. Which is helpfully designed to be attractive enough to give as a gift.

The Solution?

There are better alternatives to single use plastic packaging for flowers.

The simple solution would be to package them in compostable starch-based plastics. That way, as the flowers degrade, so too would the packaging.

It’s excruciatingly simple, but an impossible consideration for retailers who simple don’t care about the environmental impact they have. Take the money and damn the consequences – AKA Every Little Helps.

In fact, the whole floristry and horticultural industry has far to go when it comes to reducing plastic waste.

What Can You Do?

We can vote with our wallets and make better choices – where possible, choose plastic free. However, it’s often not possible as retailers give us no other choice.

When you leave floral tributes, take the plastic off and take it home with you! The flowers look better. If everyone did that it would remove tonnes of litter from the street (yes, you are littering!).

This Twitter post inspired me:

Crowd removing plastic waste from floral tributes

These amazing, selfless, thoughtful people who took the time to pay their respects to both the Queen and the environment by clearing up the plastic waste left behind by well-wishers.

These people are awesome.

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