Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall urges public to avoid single-use masks


Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has called for the public to avoid single-use masks and opt for renewable or homemade ones instead.

The celebrity chef and presenter, 55, warned that the coronavirus pandemic could increase the amount of plastic waste being created, and discouraged people from using plastic gloves.

Fearnley-Whittingstall, who launched the War On Plastic campaign with Anita Rani last year, also said it is "no safer" to buy fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic.

He said: "Obviously everyone's number one priority right now is to keep themselves and their families safe.

"But the evidence I've seen suggests that using more single-use plastic in our everyday lives doesn't help us to do that.

"We definitely don't need to wear plastic gloves – in fact, they give us a false sense of security.

"They can just as easily be contaminated as our hands – and so it makes much more sense to simply wash our hands.

"We don't need to buy those single-use disposable masks – which a lot of people don't realise are actually made of plastic – we can buy reusable washable masks – or make our own – which are just as good and don't contaminate the environment.

"It's no safer to buy fruit and veg wrapped in plastic either – we just need to wash it well when we get it home.

"It's understandable that people feel safer when they've got a plastic layer between them and the world right now.

"But outside the world of hospitals and care homes, it doesn't actually help us live our everyday lives."

The River Cottage star said he was optimistic about the changes that could emerge from the pandemic.

He said: "The coronavirus pandemic means that we are all living in a very different world to the one we were in when we started making the programme.

"So much has changed, there are new unexpected challenges, and it's become a tragic time for far too many people.

"But I am hopeful that as we are all forced to re-evaluate our lifestyles, people might decide that they don't want to just go back to the old and wasteful ways of doing things.

"Perhaps I'm being too optimistic, but wouldn't it be great if programmes like these got people to think differently about how we live in the future?"

One year on from launching the War On Plastic campaign, Fearnley-Whittingstall and Rani will look at how much has changed in a follow-up episode, titled The Fight Goes On.

They will take on the companies that make tea bags and sandwiches, challenge fast-food outlets over their plastic toy giveaways and task a British family with going plastic-free on a budget.

The Fight Goes On airs on BBC One at 9pm on September 1.