Why Queen Elizabeth Is Banning Plastic Products at Buckingham Palace

The U.S. has taken an odd turn on environmental issues in recent years. For one, the state of Florida led a charge to ban all restrictions on plastic bag use in the state, and Governor Rick Scott topped it off by banning the use of the words “climate change” in his administration.

Meanwhile, Ireland celebrated its 16th year with a 21-cent fee per plastic bag in 2018, and usage there has dropped 95%. Over in England, Queen Elizabeth II is taking the environmental push a few steps further, starting at Buckingham Palace.

According to a report in The Telegraph, the queen is waging an all-out war on single-use plastics and will ban plastic take-out containers, bottles, and even straws from royal residences. Here’s the story behind Queen Elizabeth’s push to make Buckingham Palace greener, and how palace staff will have to proceed.

1. ‘Practical steps’ to cut back on plastics

Queen Elizabeth II

She’s making it a priority. | Michael Ukas /Pool /Getty Images

According to the Telegraph report, plastic straws will be banned in staff dining rooms and phased out in public cafes. Takeout containers made of plastic will also be gone from Royal Collection cafes.

Likewise, catered events at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, and Palace of Holyroodhouse (Scotland) will be plastic-free. “The Royal Household is committed to reducing its environmental impact,” said a palace spokesman. “As part of that, we have taken a number of practical steps to cut back on the use of plastics.”

Next: Here’s what the Queen wants instead.

2. Real china plates and other green options take plastic’s place.

A general view a the 'One Million Young Lives' dinner at Buckingham Palace

They’re saying goodbye to single use silverware. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Rather than single-use plastics, which take centuries to biodegrade, Buckingham Palace will feature fully biodegradable or compostable to-go containers. Palace events will feature real china plates, glasses, and paper cups.

Who knows, people might actually feel like they’re eating in a palace, what with all the real plates and silverware.

Next: The Queen’s relationship with David Attenborough might offer clues to why.

3. The queen and Sir David Attenborough

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) reacts as she talks with television presenter David Attenborough

She worked with him on a documentary about conservation. | Yui Mok/AFP/Getty Images

If you think Elizabeth looks good for her age (91), get a load of Sir David Attenborough, the British actor who is her equal in years. Attenborough, who worked with the queen on a documentary about conservation in the British Commonwealth, also narrated the popular “Blue Planet II” for the BBC.

During the filming, Attenborough and Elizabeth laughed together and otherwise got along splendidly. But their collaboration came at a dangerous time for the planet.

Next: We’re not far from more plastic than fish in the oceans.

4. Why the queen is so concerned about plastics

Prince William and David Attenborough

Attenborough and Prince William are also friendly. | Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

If you check on the state of the oceans, you’ll see why the queen, Attenborough, and so many others worry about the future. According to the World Economic Forum, the ocean will contain more plastics than fish by 2050.

In 2018, tests revealed the presence of plastic particles in bottled water. To change course, it will take leadership from presidents, chief executives, and royalty around the globe. Queen Elizabeth isn’t stopping with plastics, either.

NextOther green upgrades will come to Buckingham Palace.

5. Solar panels and more at Buckingham

Buckingham Palace Aerial View

She added solar panels to increase energy efficiency. | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

While the Queen’s ban on plastics might be the latest measure, it’s not the only green upgrade coming to Buckingham Palace. Renovations outlined in 2016 will upgrade the royal residence and improve energy efficiency by 40%.

To get there, remodeling crews will install solar panels and retrofit other equipment to bring the palace into the 21st century. It’ll be a lot greener, which should make the queen happy.

Next: Queen Elizabeth’s church issues a plastic challenge before Lent.

6. The Church of England’s plastic-free Lent

Queen Elizabeth II Visits Frankfurt am Main

She called for a plastic-free lent. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth presides over The Church of England, which split from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534, and you can see her influence in this year’s Lenten challenge. In essence, the church advised its congregation to give up plastics for the period from February 14 until Easter Sunday (April 1).

Asking followers to observe the Christian calling to “care for God’s creation,” the church recommended the use of reusable bottles (rather than plastic cups) and buying fresh bread (rather than the kind packed in plastic).

NextElizabeth isn’t the only member of the royal family concerned about the environment.

7. The queen’s son inherited her respect for the environment.

Prince Charles walking outside

Prince Charles also respects the environment. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Prince Charles, the queen’s son, inherited his mother’s respect for the environment. According to The Telegraph, Charles has spoken about the “escalating ecological and human disaster” the world must confront in the oceans.

Charles has amplified the reports from our planet’s seas, where seals are found trapped in floating trash heaps and whales wash ashore after being choked to death by plastic debris.

Next: What the queen’s directives mean for staff at Buckingham Palace

8. The palace staff will have to scramble.

Buckingham palace dining room

Palace employees are phasing out plastics. | Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images

As with any other workplace shake-up, Buckingham Palace staff will have to scramble in the coming months to implement the changes Elizabeth requested. New types of packaging will arrive, the old will be phased out, and added protocol for handling more china plates and glassware should be expected.

Staff dining rooms will change immediately. In other words, palace employees must say goodbye now to plastic in all its forms. The question is: Will anyone miss it?

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