Brits are famous for our love of sandwiches. In fact, we eat a staggering 11.5 billion of them a year. And while at City to Sea we would never speak foul of a good ploughman’s, we do have an issue with the plastic pickle that it leaves behind. It is estimated that we use more than 1.2 billion metres (745,000 miles) of cling film every year – enough to go around the circumference of the world 30 times over.
This is one of the reasons we were so excited to see Wriggle, the independent food app, launch their reusablelunch box. The ‘Bring Your Own Lunchbox’ scheme encourages customers to bring along their own lunch boxes to local eateries, cutting down on single-use takeaway packaging. Similar to what our award winning ‘Refill’ campaign does for water, participating eateries have a sticker in their window letting passers-by know they can go in and fill up their lunchbox at ease.
With plans in Parliament to ban all but the most essential plastics within 25 years, more and more eateries are transitioning towards a circular, reusable and more sustainable business model. To give just one example, Boston Tea Party led in 2018 stopped using throw away coffee cups. One decision has resulted in thousands upon thousands of cups saved from littering our natural environment.
Last month the Global Action Network launched the #Longlivethelunchbox sticker scheme, similar to refill, mapping the venues that will accept reusable lunch boxes. It has never been easier for hungry customers to choose to be part of the refill revolution. Increasingly, those eateries relying on business models using single use plastics just no longer seem to cut the mustard.
Our amigos over at Wriggle have gone one sustainable step further though. The latest Wriggle box is made from bamboo. The body is bamboo, comparable to the bamboo coffee cups which are made from surplus bamboo from the chopstick industry and mixed with a plastic resin like melamine. The lid is bamboo wood with a thick elastic band as a holder.
OK, so this might not cause panda-monium (geddit) outside the City to Sea offices, but this does have the potential to make a real difference. Research shows that one of the big issues stopping people from carrying reusables is that they feel uncomfortable being the only ones in a shop or café asking for a refill. By ‘normalising’ behaviour through stickers, posters and more people taking par, it makes refilling your water bottle or lunchbox more acceptable and feel much more normal. By Wriggle creating a box and their food outlets selling it, plus other locations putting up the #Longlivethelunchbox sticker it sends a green light to what is accepted behaviour.
At City to Sea we have seen first-hand how the refill revolution spreads. When we launched the campaign in 2015 we had a handful of Refill Stations signed up and today we have over 17,000 locations in the UK alone with over a hundred thousand people using our Refill App. Wriggle have hit the refill nail on the head by creating a lunch box that is both beautiful and practical. It becomes a source of pride and something people are keen to associate with.
Alongside legislating single-use plastic out of use we need to be building beautiful and practical reuse refill schemes. And Wriggle have kicked off 2019 perfectly. What is important for social norms to really change is the volume of people refilling and businesses offering refills. And with every sustainability change it always takes the pioneers to lead the way.
So, get a wriggle on and join the refill revolution.