football fans cheering their team on in a bar

Avoid plastic pint glasses: zero-waste tips for sports fans

Single-use plastic piles up on match day. It’s time to give pointless plastic the red card with these fair-play tips.
Photo of Phil Byrne with dog
By Phil Byrne    |      Published:  14 Jun 2018    |      2 minute read

Sports fans – we're up against some ugly opposition. We're talking about plastic pollution seeping into the big-game experience.

Water bottles, coffee cups, tea stirrers and pint glasses overflow from bins. Plastic memorabilia blows in the wind, ironically forgotten. Where's the pride?

Some clubs are starting to offload unwanted plastics. Several teams have trialled reusable pint cups. Others have pledged to reduce single-use plastic across their stadiums. But no team is anywhere near claiming the title of plastic free.

Here are some ways that all sports fans can give plastic the boot.

1. Avoid the opposition...

We're talking plastic plates, cutlery, cups and straws. Put your hands to use while you're chowing down on that pie – or use real crockery and reusable containers.

A pizza cut into slices
The perfect formation?

2. Don't get lost in the hype

You could spend your money on a tiny plastic bowler hat or an Andy Murray mask that makes your face hurt. You could even copy Gazza and wear a huge pair of fake plastic boobs with your name written underneath them. The only question would be – why? If you want to add sparkle to your team's performance, try some eco glitter fun.

Dutch football fan wearing a wig
"What on Earth was I thinking?"

3. Bring the cup home

This is your chance to get your hands on the cup – don't throw it away (because that's really bad for the environment). Some sports fans can now put down a deposit for a reusable plastic pint pot. If that's not an option, buy your own or tell the venue to kit themselves out with a new strip of reusable plastic glasses. Look for a hole in the defence and time your run through to the bar.

Close up of a plastic cup discarded in a field with more cups in the backround
Disposable plastic cups should be relegated to the past

4. No unforced errors

Shocking but true – wine and beer bottles may contain a seal of plastic inside the metal bottle tops. Don't be defeated by these negative tactics. Go on the attack and buy a whole keg of beer from a local pub or brewery. As for the wine, find out if a local store offers a bottle refill scheme.

Metal bottle caps containing a plastic seal
Metal bottle tops containing plastic seals

5. Don’t get caught behind

Even your prima-donna striker knows how to tackle plastic bag pollution. Splash some cash on a cloth one and watch it bring home the goods – and bag you some points.

A plastic bag caught in a tree
They've hit the woodwork. It's game over.

6. Dish out the half-time oranges

Or the strawberries and cream. Ensure they're extra fresh and plastic-free by ordering a local fruit and veg box. Another way of serving up fresh food minus the plastic packaging is to bypass the supermarket aisles for a farmers' market.

Girls sports team eating oranges at half time
Credit: istock

7. Back of the net

Our favourite replica kits are likely to contain synthetic materials. With each wash they can shed hundreds of thousands of tiny plastic fibres which pass through the sewage system into our lakes, rivers and seas. Luckily, the Guppy Friend washing bag catches these miniature pollutants. It's your last line of defence.

A boy wearing a dirty football kit in the rain
There are easier ways to wash your kit
Credit: istock

8. Squeaky-bum time

This is the stage when you find out if you've really got the nerve to succeed. Should the pressure get the better of you, cover your arse by stocking up on eco-friendly toilet paper. Who Gives a Crap toilet rolls come wrapped in paper instead of plastic.

A wall of white toilet paper rolls
The lineup looks strong on paper
Credit: istock

They think it's all over...

Before you go, score some points for the planet.

Tell the UK government that we need a new law to phase out plastic pollution.

Tell the UK government that we need a new law to phase out plastic pollution.