Want to be squeaky clean on the environment? ‘Don’t rinse your dishes’

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Allegra Stratton - Toby Melville/Reuters
Allegra Stratton - Toby Melville/Reuters

People should consider not rinsing plates before putting them in the dishwasher to limit the impact on the environment, Boris Johnson’s COP26 spokeswoman has suggested.

Writing in The Telegraph, Allegra Stratton also floats the idea of freezing left-over bread to reuse rather than throwing it away and ordering shampoo in cardboard packaging.

Ms Stratton calls the moves “micro-steps” which Britons may wish to adopt to do their part to be more environmentally friendly, some of which many households have already adopted.

The ideas come as part of a government campaign dubbed One Step Greener, which attempts to increase awareness across the country about how to help tackle climate change.

The drive is being made in the run-up to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, which is taking place in Glasgow in November.

The suggestions are not designed to be an alternative to the major political decisions which world leaders and businesses must take, but a chance to make people aware of simple changes that have a positive impact. 

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Ms Stratton writes: “Could you go One Step Greener? Did you know, according to COP26 principal partner Reckitt, who make Finish, you don’t really need to rinse your dishes before they go into the dishwasher?

“Does your brand of plastic bottle shower gel come as a bar in cardboard packaging? I bet it does. It might be freezing half a loaf of bread when you get it home, to get out later in the week, rather than throwing half of it away when it goes mouldy.

“It could be walking to the shops, not driving. Micro-steps maybe, but all the more achievable because of it. Ahead of COP26, choose one thing: go One Step Greener.”

A study in the US showed that households which pre-rinsed dishes used an additional 27,000 litres of water a year.

Ms Stratton acknowledges these moves alone will not fix the problem: “On your own, we are not pretending these steps will stop climate change.

“But here in the UK you are not on your own. The Prime Minister’s green 10-point plan means the Government is getting stuck in. Businesses, large and small, are lowering their emissions and the NHS is, too.”

The intervention comes as preparation for COP26 - now less than 100 days away - starts to increase in intensity.

Government ministers hope to see pledges from world leaders about moving away from coal and petrol cars and better protecting trees in a bid to cut carbon emissions by 2030 at the conference. 

The gathering is due to build on the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015 by 196 countries.

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That deal saw parties set a goal of limiting global warming to less than 2C above pre-industrial levels, or preferably just 1.5C.

Ms Stratton is a former journalist who was once political editor of BBC’s Newsnight and national editor of ITV News.

She was director of strategic communications for Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, before becoming the Downing Street press secretary under Boris Johnson.

She had been due to host the live televised Downing Street briefings before they were cancelled and is now Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman for COP26.

In her current role she works closely with Alok Sharma, president of COP26 and a government minister who attends the full Cabinet.

In another section of her piece, Ms Stratton writes: “Some feel disheartened when large G20 countries continue to belch out carbon. But by going One Step Greener here in the UK, you will grow the market for green goods and add to Britain’s ‘first mover advantage’.

“It could also be the time to start to think about the cleaner technology coming. Nobody will be forced to ditch their gas boiler or diesel car overnight, but in 10-15 years, there will be change.”

Do you rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher? Would you kick your habit in order to limit the impact on the environment? Tell us in the comments section below
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