Britain’s biggest impacts out and about

Two large litter bins in public park

The best of British waste grows significantly in one particular area, and it tends to be away from our home. As a small country, millions of us commute to work each day. Even in the wake of working from home, we still flock to offices and café’s to take care of the day-to-day. However, you can imagine what this has done for our waste creation.  

As a nation, we’re obsessed with grabbing meal deals, a quick bite to eat for the train, or a coffee to wake us up in the morning. While this boosts the economy, our takeaway favourites are piling up in recycling centres, landfills, and sadly, our streets. With litter becoming one of Britain’s biggest environmental issues, it poses the important question – how much litter would there be if we ditched our on-the-go food/drink habits?

The best of British meal deals 

Whether you’re a regular at grabbing a sarnie and smoothie or you dabble once a week on a Friday afternoon. Nearly 7 million bargain lunches are eaten every day in the UK, costing us around £20 million. It’s great news for the economy, but what about the waste? 

You may have watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s War On Plastic on the BBC last year. But if you haven’t the show highlighted a crucial issue with our takeaway sandwich boxes. Although made from recycled materials, and the ability to be recycled, popping them straight in recycling bins can create more issues leading to landfill.  

Now we see the packaging with an ‘easy pull’ tab where you can separate the two materials ready for recycling. Yet, many supermarkets still provide our beloved sarnies in difficult packaging. And a real solution to the best of British waste remains to be discovered. 

As more of us head back to the office and takeaway lunches inevitably increase in their sales again, it’s essential that supermarkets get on board with tackling this issue. But how can we as consumers avoid it? Simple, bring a packed lunch or head to a small store that makes fresh sandwiches that you can pop in a reusable box/bag and ditch the packaging altogether. 

The plastic carrier bag  

When it comes to the best of British waste, product packaging instantly comes to mind. But the plastic carrier bag issue is one of the most significant in the UK and has been for the last decade. As a nation, we’ve introduced bags for life. These are harder to recycle but can be reused more times, and come at a financial cost to the consumer.  

Shop assistants are asking whether you’d like one, rather than automatically supplying one for you. Yet still, households purchase on average 54 bags for life each year – that’s one per week! Suggesting that they’re not quite the ‘bag for life’ solution they promised. 

The truth is, although the price for these bags has raised to 10p, millions still buy one each time we grab a meal deal. Intending to ‘remember it for next time’ or popping one in your desk drawer so it’s there. It’s not quite as essential as remembering your wallet for lunch and let’s be honest, we’ve all forgotten that at times too! 

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While the initial purchase cost of a plastic bag inspired a 95% decrease in consumption. We’re still left with an issue. Bags for life, although they can last longer are harder to recycle. Some stores like the Co-Operative provide biodegradable bags that you can use as a food waste bin liner. The truth is much of the nation is still picking up a bag for life when they grab their meal deals. 

The future of plastic bags

What is the solution for carrier bags? Single-use is a step backward, a higher cost has not yet proved effective, and a more durable product will use more initial resources. It’s clear that relying on the nation to remember a bag doesn’t work. Nor does deterring them with a higher price. What do you think? Let us know your ideas in the comments below! 

The best of British commuters and their impact 

As we’ve already mentioned, we’re a nation on the move. On average, workers spend 59 minutes commuting to the office every day. Whether that’s by train, car, bus or bike. There’s plenty of options for public and private transport – even electric scooters in some towns! But what impact does commuting have? 

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plastic bag floating in tropical waters surrounded by colourful fish

During the initial lockdown in 2020 where the country was told to stay at home, we saw a 50% decrease in air pollution for commuter hotspots. While there are many benefits for the atmosphere as emission reductions help our planet breathe better, it’s also better for us who live and work in these areas. Ultimately, without commuting we breathe much cleaner air, especially in built-up areas like London and Manchester.  

Air pollution is known for causing adverse health conditions and impacts commuters 30% more than those who work from home. It can be difficult to avoid air pollution. But just because you can’t beat them doesn’t mean you should join them. While we may not be able to take all polluting vehicles off the road, we can control our own contribution. So cycle or walk where you can and take public transport or car share where possible. Every small action can help, you only have to look at the small actions taken from not going to work in 2020 to see how little differences create a big change.

It’s true that being away from home often leaves us in situations where we purchase single-use products, packaging, and create more waste than usual. It’s why being prepared is more important than ever. Planning your day, considering how you will eat and get around. Without accessible solutions for all, we must take it into our own hands to reduce impacts.

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