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Oceans: I see plastic everywhere I go

From Mr Paul Sumner
Owner of a catering van based in Cornwall, UK

My decision to be plastic free in our diner has been based on things I have witnessed in Indonesia and at home, here in Cornwall, UK.

As a keen surfer, I see plastic waste in the ocean everywhere I go and have decided that my business will not be contributing to it. I might be a small business, but the example has to start somewhere.

At our catering van, we actually do offer wooden, biodegradable cutlery to our takeaway customers and normal cutlery for people who choose to eat sitting down. We are very small, however, and very rarely do people need much cutlery. Sadly, however, we do not have any amazing edible cutlery as yet! If anyone did come with their own cutlery, that would be fine, too. I personally feel that the government should be putting legislation into place to ban the manufacturing of plastic cutlery. This would then force the situation to evolve for the better with more sustainable products like bamboo or wood.

Progress: Small businesses are keen to adapt

From Ms Jennifer Hale
Administrative Partner at a veterinary centre in Abu Dhabi

Yes, it is possible for UAE eateries to shift to reusable or environmentally sustainable dishes and cutlery. If patrons would be willing to purchase their own meal kits, the restaurants could give a discount for those individuals instead of spending funds on disposables and offer collection fees as needed. Simultaneously, they could charge those customers requiring sustainable crockery (wood or plant-based and biodegradable) a fee.

Many staff at our veterinary centre order their lunch every day from a Pinoy restaurant. We needed to do something about the terrible amounts of plastic being discarded, so we decided to switch to reusable lunch kits for the staff. Now, every day, a popular restaurant delivers food to the staff packed in those kits and then collects the emptied kits in the evening for use the next day.

This has taught us that small businesses here are willing to help each other and to look after Abu Dhabi and the planet. This is not a local issue, it is a global one and the UAE can lead the way.

Little steps: We are eating into the world’s resources

From Mr Vivek Balaney
Brand manager of a Dubai-based restaurant

We have introduced bamboo crockery for our dine-in customers and wooden cutlery for take-away and delivery orders. We looked at the amount of water that is wasted even in washing reusable crockery and also considered the fact that dishwashing liquid is made of petrochemicals. We then decided to move towards bamboo crockery, which is made of hard-pressed leaves, that would save all those resources and we sort our trash later, by which we are saving water as well as other resources of the Earth.

Allowing people to bring in their own boxes for food items might create a hygiene issue, as we follow strict guidelines set by the municipality. However, if people who regularly order lunch from our restaurants provide us with their own lunch kits and request us to bring food in those kits for the next order, we could consider that. People might not do it because it is a hassle, but it is for us and for everyone involved to educate people and urge them to make little changes.

At the end of the day we are all facing the brunt of global warming and the little steps will add up.

When you order from a restaurant, ask the restaurant not to send any cutlery at all. It is not about saving the restaurant’s money, we need to do it for a bigger, better purpose. All these are resources of the Earth, and we have just one of it!

— Compiled by Huda Tabrez/Community Web Editor