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Time for a Cuppa - #PlasticLessLent: Week 1

Time for a Cuppa - #PlasticLessLent: Week 1

Whether at home or on the hoof, our favourite cup of tea or coffee often comes with a side order of unrecyclable plastic. During the first week of Lent, St Bride's Choir are looking at ways to enjoy a guilt-free cuppa as we pursue the  #PlasticLessLent challenge. Follow our experiences on our Facebook & Twitter accounts.

Surprisingly, paper cups used to serve hot takeaway drinks are in fact lined with plastic, and will not biodegrade fully once discarded. In the UK, we throw away 2.5bn disposable cups each year, of which only 0.25% are recycled.

In a piece from The Telegraph last month, Kate McCann reported on what some politicians are proposing to do to tackle the problem:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/05/call-latte-levy-cut-disposable-coffee-cup-waste/

Single-Use Coffee Cups

ML_coffee cup.jpg

Tenor Matt Long modelling two examples of resuable hot drink cups

The good news is re-useable cups made from bamboo or rice husk are now widely available. Some of them are stylish to boot!

Many coffee shops offer a discount for bringing your own cup. Starbucks, Costa, and Paul offer a 25p discount, Pret has recently doubled this to 50p, and Café Nero offers double stamps on their loyalty cards, meaning you can claim a free drink after buying only five instead of ten. Doing good and saving money (perhaps enough for that William Morris reusable cup you've had your eye on!).

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Coffee At Home

Home use coffee pods and capsules are designed to be used once and thrown away and most are not easily recyclable. Some need to be returned to the manufacturer, others messily taken apart before recycling, and some are non-recyclable. Metal and plastic abound but some companies are offering compostable alternatives for big brand machines. Here is an article from Honest Coffee exploring the issues:

https://www.honestcoffees.com/blog/environmental-impact-of-using-coffee-pods/

The Humble Teabag

Most of us innocently throw used teabags in our compost systems. However, many major tea brands use a non-biodegradable plastic glue to seal the bags. The good news is some brands use better methods, and thanks to recent bad press, those that do use plastic are working fast to find an alternative:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/why-is-there-plastic-in-my-teabag_uk_5a71a6abe4b0be822ba1ea9d

The Return of the Milk Bottle

Once upon a time our milk appeared on our doorsteps in glass bottles delivered from centralised dairies by the early rising milkman. Then improved refigeration and the rise of large supermarkets meant the sight of a milk float became rare. However, there's been a resurgence in popularity of the local milk service. Laziness or wishing to use less plastic? It's certainly not the cheapest option: four pints of whole milk costing almost £3 from the milkman and as little as £1 in the supermarket. The Guardian explores the pros and cons, and uncovers why milk bottles might not be as eco as you think:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/feb/07/return-milkround-plastic-problem-glass-bottle-deliveries

Conclusion

So, the bad news is, there is a lot more plastic hidden in beverage drinks than we first thought. But the good news is, with a bit of research about which brands and shops use what, you can quite easily put your money where it counts, and it won't cost you the earth. We'll be trying these out this Lent so keep up with it all at Facebook & Twitter (#PlasticLessLent  #StBrides4Lent).

Week 2: Is it possible to go plastic free in the bathroom?

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