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European parliament votes to ban single-use plastics

I've been reading various articles about the European parliament banning single use plastics and I'm wondering if I should bring my own. I'm going the backpack route and need to limit the weight. When I went to UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands last year, I didn't use the RS picnic kit I brought along at all. With this new ban, thinking I should?

Has anyone experienced a situation where they've been denied plastic utensils when getting take out/take away food or buying picnic items anywhere in Europe? Heading to Germany, Austria and Switzerland on my first RS tour this week.

Thanks!

Posted by
67 posts

Yeah, that does not make sense at all, agree! And I'm definitely not a fan of the paper straws that many places have been using in Portland, Oregon. They get soggy after a while, and if they bend and get a kink in them, they are useless. I know Starbucks has gotten around this by designing a cold drink lid that is similar to the sippy cups kids use.

Posted by
6030 posts

Well, its picnic time! Fingers are fine. Just bring hand sanitizer.

Whats next to be banned, single use napkins?

Posted by
4435 posts

Paper forks?? This will be interesting.

More likely wood (which I’ve seen a number of places)

I have a camp set of cutlery from REI that I always bring with me. While I find takeaway places generally have cutlery, it is not always available if you are buying groceries or cheese from a fromagerie.

Posted by
3315 posts

I just returned from a 3-week trip to France. I always bring two plastic spoons, a fork and knife with a couple of Ziploc bags of various sizes. I ate from Monoprix stores, the long-distance trains, etc. and although I always used my plastic silverware, they had some available.

Posted by
568 posts

I think its brilliant news, so many alternatives to single use plastics. Also mistified as to why ablebodied adults actually need to use straws?????

Posted by
20557 posts

Don't knock it till you try it. We are here now and paper forks and spoons work fine. A very, very dense cardboard or perhaps pressed wood.

Posted by
10662 posts

Excellent, I love the idea of paper and wood. I own some old growth forest that we will be clear cutting to plant fast growing rapidly renewable timber for the paper company, or I could convert it to a land fill for all the paper garbage. And, if we limit enough plastic, the cost of oil should go down, and I will be able to afford to drive a bigger truck.

Actually, anyone caught throwing trash on the street or the beaches, or ... should face some pretty serious fines. And, what? You can't live without straws? I grew up on paper straws, they were fine. If you still need one and can't handle paper, buy a sippy cup at any baby store.

Posted by
5817 posts

My local take away uses starch cutlery. They don’t feel any different to plastic to use.
If picnics and take out food is going to be major part of your trip bringing your our cutlery would be the sensible thing to go. It can’t weigh that much.

Posted by
10662 posts

Starch cutlery feels like plastic, because it is plastic. 70% from biomass plastic (ie. convert wilderness into farm land to produce plastics, or convert food crop land to fork producing land - with so many in the world hungry ... ?). and 30% conventional petroleum plastic. It is also not recyclable so it adds to land fill. Then there is the energy required to grow, produce and ship.

I vote for the Swiss Army Knife with the spoon. Or get one of those camp sets and wash them. Of course, there are water shortages in some parts of the world, and if you are a RS back pack only traveler then you aren't getting on the plane with a metal knife. DIET TIME!!!

Posted by
5817 posts

Well the best thing to do would be to eat with your fingers but that makes soup difficult.

What ever people do to try and help the environment there is always someone waiting to respond with a "yes but....."!
No option is perfect and people need educating about the pros and cons of each. If people 'must' have disposable cutlery at least newer options are (eventually) biodegradable and can be produced from renewable resources unlike plastic.

Posted by
10662 posts

"Yes but .." is necessary to analyze the responses to help ensure efforts realize results. Soup can be drunk from a glass cup.

In theory a carbon tax sounds reasonable. In practice we would probably end up with another giant wasteful bureaucracy. I'm banking on education and free will.

Posted by
2575 posts

Jill, just because you were offered single use items when last traveling doesn't mean you had to take them. You'll never get used to using your reusable picnic items if you don't try. Even if the items aren't plastic, why not cut back on waste and 'reuse'? I appreciate wanting to keep packing light, but consider the concept of reducing your footprint. Pull out your camp bits before buying food so you are less tempted to grab theirs.

I think straws are popular in highly iced drinks. Not as easy to consume by drinking from the rim if ice is falling on your face.

There are numerous wood or stainless options from variious sources, and various reusable bottles/glasses come with built in straws or options.

As mentioned above, education may be a better effort. People need to take more responsibility for their consumption, but that takes time, practise and awareness.

Posted by
4852 posts

Corn-based (compostable) utensils and re-usable folding metal straws are being promoted around here.

Posted by
67 posts

@Caro: it's difficult to drink iced drinks without a straw because the ice just keeps hitting your teeth. If you have sensitive teeth like I do, or if you have any kind of invisible braces like I recently had, straws are definitely a big help.

Posted by
67 posts

@Maria: I rarely use plastic utensils at all, and didn't use any on my last trip to Europe, hence why my Rick Steves utensils went unused. I always recycle at home, and do my best to recycle when I am traveling as well. Also purchased metal straws for used when I had invisible braces.

Just asking advice from people who have been over there recently and seen the effects of these new laws.

BTW, your post seemed a bit judgmental, esp. considering you didn't have all the details about what I already do take care of Mother Earth.

Posted by
10662 posts

It's a psychological issue. Tell people they must or cant do something and the push back is going to undermine your objective. So pick your battles wisely. Making the metro in Vienna free will probably save more fossil fuels than used to produce all the straws sold in Vienna. And no straw, spoon or fork sold in Vienna ever washed up on a beach. I would imagine land fills are a bigger issue in Vienna.

Then an electric car gets about 110 mpg equivalent. The best gas car gets about 50 mpg. Hey that's great! Unless you live in an area where the electricity is produced by coal burning plants. Or, unless you have a problem with nuclear. Then there is the issue of strip mining the elements used in the batteries in Canada, shipping it to Germany to make the batteries, then shipping the batteries to the US to put them in cars; and then the land fills full of toxic used car batteries .... Maybe it is still better, but since it's never discussed, I have to question it. And let's not even get started on wind energy. But education has resulted in buildings and building systems significantly more energy efficient. The USGBC has fostered a voluntary compliance program that has a lot of merit and has promoted positive results.

Posted by
2575 posts

@Jill, it was meant to be encouraging. However, a reread shows that a lack of superfluous words makes it read more abruptly than intended. I tend to be longwinded and use too many emojis and it seems in reducing words and emojis I fail at getting the tenor of posts correct. My apologies. The written word can be challenging and misconstrued.

Posted by
568 posts

Jill, interesting point re the ice, but then seeing as i live in europe that is never a problem!!!!!
😁

Posted by
67 posts

@maria All good! :)

Overall, this is a good thread to get people thinking about their habits both at home and abroad!

Posted by
10662 posts

Very good, and although it may not always sound like I am in agreement, on the end result, I am. I just want to win, and that requires more strategy than seems to be the norm on the topic.

Posted by
23251 posts

James E., we all win if 150 years from now your and my descendants are alive and able to be living on Earth.

Posted by
2575 posts

Being that September is back to uni month, there have been articles here of United students signing pledges to not have children until we start cleaning up our world so there is hope for a future for the next generation. Given some of these pledges are only 18, the may not keep the pledge but it tells you the type of pessimism that generation feels. I think I is too little too late, but I keep trying to do my bit.
Also this week Amazon admits it emits as much carbon as a small nation. They have plans, but I couldn't help but think of some easier solutions on a consumer level.
Reducing single use is a step forward.
Edit. Fixed autocorrect. Uni, not 'union'

Posted by
2575 posts

Nigel, thanks for catching. It should have stayed as 'uni' as in 'university'. I didn't catch that autocorrect.

Posted by
10662 posts

Nigel, I have faith in mankind. I compare the quality of the environment today vs 20 years ago, and in some, not all, regards there has been great improvement. If we go about this rationally I think we will leave a better world.