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  • Chas Bayfield

The "single use" spoon that found a home.

Back in February, I was fortunate enough to fly to Australia to visit family. On the way out, I flew Emirates. Despite sitting in economy, all the cutlery was metal which felt a properly sustainable choice. “Airlines have moved on” I thought. On the way home from Melbourne, however, I flew Qantas where all the knives, forks and spoons were plastic.

At the time, airlines were still going full throttle, so who knows how many millions of these single use items were being churned out then chucked into landfill? When you add the pollution caused by aviation fuel to that of the unchecked petrochemical industry which churns out single use plastics from fossil fuels, you have a major airline that really could try harder.

One of the very few positives that can be taken out of this pandemic is the opportunity it gives businesses to reset. There is a real open door for industry to reconfigure in a way that doesn’t treat the planet’s resources like an endless cookie jar that we can keep helping ourselves to. We now know that we can meet via Zoom or Teams or Google Meet, so we no longer have to physically be in Tokyo or LA. That is a huge bonus to the skies above us and the oceans around us. And while reusing stuff until it breaks is terrible for business (who waits for their phone or TV or car to break before they upgrade?) it’s at least a step in the right direction.

That’s why I brought this single use plastic teaspoon from Qantas back home with me to London. Its sole job on the flight was to maintain its form and function just long enough for me to eat a single yoghurt, a task which it accomplished commendably. Since then it’s been in almost daily use, scooping up yoghurt, fishing out teabags from mugs, stirring things and generally being a robust member of the Bayfield family kitchen drawer. I wouldn’t buy plastic spoons by choice, but this is my very small protest at a Qantas single use plastic spoon which has now clocked up 100s of uses and which, if current flight restrictions go on much longer, may even outlast Qantas.

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