polystyrene waste
Jessica Rees
Sustainability and Engagement Officer
3 minute read

Plastic can take anywhere from 20 to 500 years to decompose, often ending up in our soil, our water systems, and our oceans. So it is good news that England has banned a range of single use plastics including plates, cutlery and some polystyrene cups and containers.

 Across England we use around 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery – this would go around the world over eight times if all lined up. 

So, what are the alternatives? When it comes to the food industry, swapping out single-use plastic has never been easier, using materials like cardboard, bamboo, and stainless steel make for a more sustainable choice. If possible, using your own alternatives can make a difference too, here are some suggestions.


Stainless steel travel bottles/mugs – Stainless steel is a durable material, and it can retain heat well for hot drinks, while making for an easy clean. Stainless steel can be recycled endlessly, lasting a lifetime. Your local café will often make your favourite cuppa in your own travel mug, just ask when you order. Here are some tried and tested recommendations.

 2 metals mugs stacked up next to a stainless steel pink water bottle with strawberries on


Bamboo cutlery – Swapping to bamboo cutlery is much lighter on the environment as it does not contribute towards plastic pollution, it is a cheaper alternative as it can be reused. Bamboo cutlery is perfect for when you're on the go and can even be compostable. Gain some bamboo inspiration with these options.


cups filled with bamboo cutlery, including, spoons, forks and spatulas.


Vegan wax food wraps – If possible, using vegan wax food wraps can be a game changer, they are wipeable, reusable and made from fabric coated in wax, that comes from a variety of natural plants. They can be used for your lunches, leftover food (avoid hot food) and can keep baked goods fresh. Although they are a little pricier than single-use sandwich bags, they last longer and can even be put in the compost bin at the end of their life! Check out these options.


a dish covered in a patterned vegan wax cloth placed next to coriander and lentils


Straws – Plastic straws have been banned in the UK since 2020, but luckily, they can come in a variety of re-useable materials. Silicone straws are versatile, they are flexible and can be cut down to size, they are the more accessible option. Alternatively, stainless steel straws are a popular choice, they can be collapsible, easy to carry around and are very durable.  Find the perfect straw for you here.


a glass mug with water and a metal straw


Through small changes like these we can all contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment which is good for all our health.