In 2017, the BBC produced a series called Blue Planet II, led by environmentalist and celebrated documentarian, David Attenborough. The show invited land-dwellers into the depths, to meet the strange and fascinating creatures who live there. But it also showed the devastating effects our plastic use is having on marine life.
Business Insider reports that someone posed to make a big difference in the United Kingdom was also watching: Queen Elizabeth. The Queen has long been a fan of Attenborough's work, and she was also moved by this project. Buckingham Palace just announced some sweeping changes to be made on the royal estates at her directive.
"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 staff who cater at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse are required to use china, glass, or recyclable paper cups, according to the Daily Telegraph. The Royal Collection cafes can now only provide food served in compostable or biodegradable packaging.
The Queen isn't the only person in her family interested in conservation and reducing plastic use. The Guardian reports that in 2015, Prince Charles spoke at conference in Washington D.C. on the need to end disposing of plastic in the oceans.
“Today, almost half of all marine mammals now have plastic in their gut and I know I am not the only person haunted by the tragic images of seabirds, particularly albatrosses, that have been found dead, washed up on beaches after mistaking a piece of plastic for a meal," he said. “The fact that a recent study estimates that by 2025 there will be one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish in the sea is not what I call encouraging.”
In 2016, the prince of Wales teamed up with Dame Ellen MacArthur, a famed yachtswoman and foundation founder, to offer a cash prize to scientists who could offer potential solutions to the issue of plastic filling the sea. Meanwhile, England's prime minster, Theresa May, has been fielding criticism for what is perceived as a slow response to the plastics crisis.
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The BBC reports that May's strategy sets the end of all unnecessary plastic waste in the U.K. for 2042. But that plan includes few legal repercussions for creating plastic waste, instead offering money for innovations against plastic and a guaranteed tax on plastic bags.
Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace is getting a general overhaul that will cost an estimated £369 million. The process will replace electrical cabling and heating systems, making the palace far greener—some of these current systems date back to WWII. There are plans to install solar panels and compost systems. The retrofit is supposed to save 554 tons of carbon every year. Pretty rare that the Royal family is appearing more progressive than Parliament.