Queen Elizabeth has long expressed admiration for David Attenborough, an environmentalist with a track record of creating beautiful, compelling movies about our planet.
Most recently, he produced a conservation series called “Blue Planet II.” The seven-part documentary, which was broadcast on the BBC last year, showcased the weird and wonderful species of the oceans. But it also explored the disastrous effects of waste on the world's waters.
The show was a hit in Britain, and it spurred top officials to take a serious look at reducing plastic waste. Britain's environmental secretary, for example, told reporters that he was “haunted” by the program and that his department is considering initiatives such as a national bottle-return system, an increase in drinking-water fountains and a new push for people to use reusable coffee cups.
Now, Queen Elizabeth II also is pushing for environment-friendly changes in her own back yard. The Telegraph reports that she is behind Buckingham Palace's new waste-reduction plans, which will ban plastic straws and bottles at all royal estates. Plastic straws will be phased out of public cafes at royal residences and banned from staff dining rooms. Royal caterers will be required to use china plates and glasses.
A palace spokesman told the press that there was a “strong desire to tackle the issue” at the highest levels. “Across the organisation, the Royal Household is committed to reducing its environmental impact,” he said, according to the Telegraph.
Buckingham Palace is also undergoing a decade-long refurbishment to make it more green. Solar panels are being installed and electricity systems updated with an eye toward improving energy efficiency by 40 percent. The updated palace will also have a composting system for organic waste.
The royals have a long history of environmental activism. Prince Charles has delivered several speeches about damage to the oceans. In one recent talk, he warned of an “escalating ecological and human disaster” from refuse in the seas. Charles and Dame Ellen MacArthur teamed up to offer a million-dollar cash prize to anyone with a great idea for keeping garbage out of the ocean.
Each year, 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally. Ten percent of that ends up in the sea. At current rates, plastic will outweigh fish in the sea by 2050. Sea life and marine animals that eat this refuse accidentally, confusing it with food, can get sick and die. Humans, too, can end up with this plastic in their systems after consuming seafood.