Last night at a You Me At Six gig in Manchester I encountered another single use plastic issue. It isn’t the first time I’ve faced plastic cups at a music event with no alternative. Sadly it’s more than likely it won’t be the last too. That’s if I do want to drink anything at all inside a event venue or festival.
I’m not sure if it’s my environmental awareness and knowledge has grown a lot over the previous months, or if it was the situation I came across that shocked me. I bought two bottles of water, something I never do but there are times for exceptions. I didn’t want an alcoholic drink and I know you can’t take your own drinks inside. Manchester especially is particularly strict on this after the Ariana Grande Manchester Bombing in May 2017. I don’t disagree with no outside liquids allowed and no glass in the venue. People get drunk, situations get heated or people drop cups on the ground. Glass could be a nightmare. It’s not like there are bins in between the crowd.
What I did encounter last night when I bought those two bottles of water was, “I hope you don’t mind but I need to put your water in plastic cups.”
I questioned, “but why, it’s already in a plastic bottle…”
“Sorry, I just have to.”
I could tell she understood what I was questioning by the look on her face. She had no answer for me other than it’s what she had been told to do. I’m not about to argue and make her life hard for reasons beyond her control.
Is there an easy solution to this? I believe there is but maybe not on a large corporate scale if this is an issue in the first place.
Are there alternatives to a plastic cup for every drink bought? Absolutely! The solutions can come from the organisers, venue managers, performers or a collaboration of more than one party.
We all know what it is like to leave a venue with the crunch of plastic under our shoes or it covering our laces because there is so much of it. Flicking your foot to get it off. I feel it is oddly symbolic of the world, particularly the sea beds.
France have banned plastic cups and other single use plastics, this will become law in 2020. France are working to find solutions and music venues will be forced to find solutions. Why does something have to become law before we act?
Alternatives to single use plastic cups:
Realistically event security is always going to be top priority at any event and rightly so. It’s the world we live in and one I believe we’ve accepted. But what could alternatives be?
- Bringing your own empty to go cup.
- Collectable cups that are made to be kept and reused. Yes, maybe still plastic but this suggestion is about plastic reduction if we can’t go plastic free immediately. It’s still an improvement.
- Lightweight steel cups like metal protein shakers. Make them collectables too, various designs by season, event or performer. Christmas markets do this with mugs, why not music and sporting events too? That’s our plastic free solution! Made of steel or aluminium and easily recyclable.
- Don’t want to keep the cup? Use and return deposit scheme. Same as cloakrooms at music venues. Bars wash glasses every night, cleaning a cup as opposed to binning it is a fraction more work but we’ve neglected our planet for decades. Change needs to happen.
- Tour merchandise – Metal cups don’t have to just down to the venue or event. Performers always produce tour merchandise whether they are the headlining act or support. Why not produce alternatives to plastic cups. Unsold tour merchandise always ends up on the band’s online store. Unsold is not lost.
McDonalds & Coca-Cola’s collectable glass.
This example is glass but who in the UK remembers these glasses produced by McDonalds and Coca Cola in 2011? Who still has one even? If you are a UK reader I’d put money on you remembering these glasses over the paper cup design of 2011. I can’t remember the paper cup design, it may have never changed for all I remember.
Why do we remember it? Because people like collectables. The are fun, sometimes free and different. If you’re willing to spend your hard earned money on an event ticket where you have an amazing time, it’s not weird to want to take something home to remember it.
Starbucks offer 25p off a drink every time you bring your own cup. I paid £3 for a bottle of water last night, not £3 for both. £3 each… Makes you a little sick inside doesn’t it? That’s a mark-up so high it should be illegal. Clearly there is room for a tiny hit on profit.
“10% off every drink you buy if you bring your own cup!”
Saving money encourages people to make a change. The 5p plastic bag charge and the sugar tax are just two incentives that have had a positive impact.
What can we do?
Customers have the power not big business. If we don’t buy their products they don’t make it.
The March financial report from H&M showed they had $4.3 billion of unsold stock. Why? Because people are aware of the impacts of “Fast Fashion” and they want more ethical working conditions. H&M felt that impact, they have been forced to listen. The customers did this not the CEO.
We can contact the event organisers, music venues, owners of multiple venues. We live in the age of social media. Our message or comment may get lost at first but with enough voices, messages and comments, it will be seen.
What other alternatives and incentives can you think of? Leave a comment below!
We are the power. We can make One Change Now.