Litter charities warn Jubilee street parties could leave streets polluted with plastic waste 

Streets across the UK will be decked out with Union flags and bunting next month as the public throws thousands of street parties to celebrate the Queen’s 70-year reign.

But litter charities are growing increasingly worried that the Platinum Jubilee celebrations will fuel a surge in the use of single-use plastic and leave streets showered in litter.

Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, CEO of Keep Britain Tidy, warned the popularity of single-use plastic surged during the pandemic, especially among people attending outdoor picnics and parties.

She called for the long weekend to mark a “reset” in the fight against plastic waste, calling on street party attendees to use plates and cutlery from their kitchens, and decorate the streets with home-made fabric bunting.

“While we think the street parties are a wonderful idea and it’s lovely for the community to get out and celebrate together… we’re hoping that the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is a reset, and people think about how they can celebrate more sustainably,” she told i.

Meanwhile, Matt Langsford, founder of Leamington Spa charity Leam Trash Friends, said he had “grave concerns” about the litter street parties in his area may generate.

“We don’t want to be party poopers, however we have grave concerns regarding the 30+ planned street parties across the district and the litter this will produce and how it will be dealt with,” he told i.

“We are urging all street party organisers to nominate a person responsible for ensuring that all litter is collected at each locality and removed expeditiously.”

Neighbours attend a street party for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2012 (Photo: George Hill/Getty)

Some councils are seeking to head off the problem before the parties start, by pleading with residents to throw “sustainable” celebrations.

In Maldon, Essex, the council has issued a guide for throwing “sustainable Jubilee street parties”, urging residents to bring their own crockery and beer glasses.

Meanwhile in South Gloucestershire, residents are being asked to make their own lollies, fashion crowns out of cardboard boxes, and cut up old clothes to make homemade bunting.

Cllr Rachael Hunt, the council’s cabinet member for ‘communities and local place’, told i the Jubilee offered the council a “bit of a platform to highlight how we can all be more sustainable”.

“There’s going to be a large number of events all on the same day,” she said. “Being able to send a message out… is quite a useful approach.”

How to have a sustainable street party

Crowdsource crockery: What’s more vintage than a tableful of mismatched plates and glasses? Ask your neighbours to dig out their dishes, dust off picnic sets, or bulk buy from a charity shop for the party – just make sure you split dishwashing duties with next door!

Make your own bunting: Gather up scraps of fabrics and old clothes (bonus points if you can collate a red, white and blue colour scheme). Cut out fabric triangles and sew them onto a piece of ribbon – voila!

Signpost the recycling: If people are drinking bottles of beer or cans of pop, put out clearly labelled recycling bins so they know where to put their waste. This will make the clean up job easier and minimise the amount of rubbish sent to landfill.

Crack down on food waste: Make sure everyone takes a slice of cake home. List any leftover food on the app Olio, which connects people with surplus food with those nearby in need of a bite to eat.

Think vegan: Swap the traditional coronation chicken sandwich filling for coronation chickpeas – it will be kinder on the planet and keep the vegans and vegetarians at the party happy.

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