ByJenna Cyprus

Feb 16, 2018

Queen Elizabeth may be preparing to turn 92 in a matter of months, but don’t let her age fool you. She’s just as open to positive change now as she was in her younger years. This is perfectly exemplified in her announcement earlier this week that she will be banning and phasing out plastic straws and bottles from all the royal estates.

Documentary Moves Queen to Action

At the heart of the Queen’s decision to ban plastic is Blue Planet II, a documentary by Sir David Attenborough on wildlife conservation in the Commonwealth. The documentary covers, in beautiful detail, the ocean and the creatures within.

Thanks to the documentary, the Queen became acutely aware of the problem with plastic and just how detrimental it is to the environment. One of the more shocking realities is that 10 percent of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally each year ends up in oceans. There is currently a 1:2 ratio of plastic to plankton and, without considerable measures over the next couple of decades, it’s believed that plastic will actually outweigh fish by 2050.

“Across the organization, the Royal Household is committed to reducing its environmental impact,” said a spokesman for Buckingham Palace. “As part of that, we have taken a number of practical steps to cut back on the use of plastics. At all levels, there’s a strong desire to tackle this issue.”

The plan is to gradually phase out the use of plastic straws in public cafes on royal grounds, as well as ban them altogether in staff dining rooms. From now on, internal caterers providing food at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and Windsor Castle will only be allowed to use china dishware and recyclable paper cups.

Any takeaway food items in the Royal Collection cafes are required to be wrapped up in biodegradable or compostable packaging. And starting immediately, companies applying for royal warrants — those who supply goods and services to the royal family — must prove that they’re making efforts to promote sustainability and prevent pollution.

Leading by Example

The Queen isn’t the only royal to advocate for the earth. Son Prince Charles has long been an environmentalist, speaking out on global warming as early as 1990, and beginning an organic farm in the 1980s. Rain forests are a huge cause for him, and he’s also championed the ocean.

Of course, no one in the Commonwealth has more influence over public action than the Queen. Her decision to ban plastic is a welcome one, but it isn’t happening in isolation. It’s all part of a larger plan to make all royal properties more efficient and sustainable. And that’s a crowning achievement, if we do say so ourselves.

By Jenna Cyprus

Jenna is a freelance writer and business consultant who covers business, technology and entrepreneurship. She's lectured for several universities and worked with more than 100 businesses over the course of the past 15 years. She's a mother of two kids, and loves to go camping, hiking and skiing with her family.