Here in SW London, our riverside pubs and cafés do a roaring summer trade serving food and drinks on their outdoor terraces. I love being by the water in the summer time, whether it is the buzz of a big event, or sharing a quiet drink with friends.


What I don’t love is having my drink served in a flimsy, single-use plastic cup.


If you live near the river or visit regularly, you will know that the Thames is home to all sorts of wildlife; fish, birds, eels, seals and even otters. Sadly though, the river and its wild inhabitants are under threat from the growing problem of plastic pollution.


According to In The Drink UK, a not-for-profit organisation set up to reduce the use of single-use plastic in and around London’s waterways, 65% of the rubbish cleaned up from The Thames is food and drink packaging, particularly flimsy single-use plastic drinking cups.


Once discarded, swept or blown into the water these flimsy cups break down quickly into smaller strips of plastic, contributing to the growing flow of plastic waste coughed up on to the shores of the Thames at high tide, or swept out to sea. It is not only unsightly, it pollutes our riverside habitats and is a danger to the health of wildlife.


If you have ever joined in the Environment Trust annual River Clean Up or our regular plogging session by the water, you’ll know exactly what I mean.


In The Drink is working to persuade the pubs and clubs along the river and other waterways in London to eliminate single-use plastic cups, straws and stirrers. It offers clear guidance on alternatives such as polycarbonate re-usables and stainless steel pint cups and practical help to encourage them make the switch.


They are doing a great job, and we can support them by making our voices heard this Plastic Free July and all summer long.


So next time you are enjoying a summertime drink down by the river, take the opportunity to make your views known in person and on social media, and say No Thanks! to single-use plastic.