Martin Cooper talks about how to have an eco-friendly holiday

Martin Cooper says be prepared to be eco-friendly when you travel this summer.

Martin Cooper says be prepared to be eco-friendly when you travel this summer. - Credit: MARTIN COOPER

It's that time of year when we like to get away - whether it's flying to foreign countries or a staycation, it's a time for us to relax and unwind.

But it can make us forget about our impact on the planet, especially as it's more difficult to make the same environmental choices that we would at home.

However, some choices can be made easier as many countries have been bringing in legislation to reduce plastic consumption.

In January, France banned single-use plastic packaging for around 30 types of fruits and vegetables. About 37 per cent of fruit and vegetables are sold with packaging they don't need and it’s expected to reduce useless plastic packaging on more than one billion items every year.

France is also leading the way with water refills, with public spaces forced to provide water fountains to reduce the use of plastic bottles.

Italy, however, is the second largest consumer of plastic in Europe, and in 2020, used 5.9 million tonnes of plastic - almost 100kg per person.

A Beach Litter report in 2019 revealed that for every square metre on Italy's beaches, there’s an average of 10 pieces of rubbish - with 81 per cent of it being plastic.

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But there is hope - the island of Capri has just banned non-reusable plastic, issuing fines of up to €500 to anyone seen with non-recyclable plastic plates, straws, cups and cutlery, or carrying a non-biodegradable plastic bag - so make sure you pack your reusables if you are travelling there!

 Martin Cooper is the owner of The Refill Shop of Ikigai in St Ives.

Martin Cooper is the owner of The Refill Shop of Ikigai in St Ives. - Credit: MARTIN COOPER

Germany are the winners when it comes to understanding the single-use plastic problem - for years they have paid a deposit for most plastic bottles bought - usually 25 cents per bottle and once empty, it’s taken back to the supermarket to get the deposit back - an exceptional circular economy.

Other countries making real efforts to reduce single use plastic include Costa Rica, Canada, Norway, Peru and Kenya - and while progress is slow and steps are small, they are steps in the right direction and all have an impact.

So as you start packing to go away, think about how you can have an impact too - swap your toothpaste tube for toothpaste in a jar, don't use the small hotel toiletries - take your own refilled bottles or soap, take your own shopping bags and most importantly, take your own refillable bottle - and ditch the single-use plastic to make this holiday the most eco-friendly you've had.