Making a Long-lasting and More Sustainable Choice


By Duncan Ellis

Ever since the BBC series Blue Planet was shown, there’s been a push to reduce our reliance on ‘single-use’ plastics. Plastic has now become so cheap, it’s effectively free and disposable, but this has led to a number of environmental problems, including the Plastic Island that is affecting the oceanic environment and aquatic life. This in turn means consumers are more conscious of their buying habits and also what happens after they drop the plastic into the recycling bin.

Unfortunately, the UK doesn’t have a single set of rules about plastic recycling, with local authorities having most of the responsibility. Each local authority can have different rules about acceptable plastics – and numerous news stories have caused outrage when branded Council recycling bags have been shown going into foreign landfill sites, instead of being recycled.

These stories are making many people change their behaviours and businesses are following. Supermarkets and greengrocers are once again using paper bags and reusable sports flasks are meaning less bottled water is being purchased.

This set us thinking – how much of the strain can steel take in reducing our reliance on the disposable society that has arisen? Some people may not think that swapping plastic for stainless steel as a particularly environmentally friendly way to go, but there are a number of positives. Steel is strong, durable, relatively lightweight and can last a lifetime.

Bottled water is one of the most common single-use plastic items purchased and thrown away – and even if you only buy one bottle of water each day on the way to work, you’re using over 250 bottles a year. Substituting these bottles for a stainless steel flask or canteen filled from the tap each morning not only prevents the extra plastic use, but saves you anything up to £250 – and a good quality canteen could last for decades, making a real impact on your wallet and the environment. You can also positively say that there’s much less likelihood of a steel canteen being pierced in your bag and dripping down your back!

We’ve also been using stainless steel cutlery for over 100 years, so there’s a lot to be said for having a small portable cutlery set with you – there are several varieties that come in compact cases designed for camping, etc. The spork has many drawbacks, besides its environmental impact; it’s brittle, not particularly useful and definitely isn’t an elegant way to eat. Bringing your own compact set in a container from home at least guarantees you have clean, proper utensils – which is more than can be said for sporks and coffee stirrers that have been left out in public all day!

Stainless steel items can replace any number of disposable plastic items, whether it’s food packaging, carrying containers or even drinking straws. Stainless steel is hygienic, easily cleanable and very strong – and even at the end of its life, many years down the line, stainless steel is one of the few 100% recyclable materials that can be used again and again – which puts it far ahead of the plastic crowd!