Thousands of fishy smelling cups

The campaign to get rid of plastic cups is catching on

An idea suggested by some biology students to make recyclable, eco-friendly cups mandatory at Leiden events seems to be gaining ground with Leiden City Council and other parties.

After the town’s 3 October Festival, biology student Auke-Florian Hiemstra and his fellow students fished thousands of cups out of the canals. “When will people starting using reusable cups?” he and Liselotte Rambonnet wondered in an editorial in Mare (18 October).

What’s happened since then?
“We keep taking the canoes out and we’ve fished another thousand cups out of an 800-metre stretch of canal. We haven’t thrown them away – that would make it our problem, not the Council’s. We want to make a record of them and shove a plastic cup in the alderman’s face every day, like: ‘Here, look at this!’ The problem hasn’t gone away, and next year’s festival will be here again soon!’ So, now there’s about a thousand plastic cups in my bathroom.”

How does that smell?
“A bit fishy, as if something’s dying. It gives me all the more reason to do something about it, then I can have a normal shower again.”

So why do you keep them?
“We’re going to exhibit photographs of the plastic cups in January – we’ve been putting them on Instagram  already – along with the actual cups in the Old School on Pieterskerkhof. And then we’ll invite Leiden’s politicians over for a New Year’s reception. With drinks from reusable cups, obviously.”

And you’ll discuss the issue with the City Council?
‘We’re already working on it! We went up to the town hall with Merijn Tinga, an environmental campaigner from Leiden and famous for being the Plastic Soup Surfer. I took a bag containing about five hundred canal cups with me: ‘Look, this is what we’re talking about.’ They were lost for words.”

And then?
“At least, the officer we spoke to was enthusiastic about reusable cups. She’ll be talking to the local cafés and restaurants. The main thing they told is that it’s not so much of ‘whether’ Leiden makes these changes but ‘how’ and ‘when’. We’ve also been contacted by a documentary maker who wants to follow us for a year; it’s up to the Council to give the documentary a happy end or a sad one.”

Aren’t the cafés and restaurants annoyed with the plan?
“They can’t go on like this. Remember, the Council had already cleaned up before we fished those thousands of plastic cups out of the canal. At the moment, the beer drinkers are not paying for the costs of cleaning up. A deposit on the glasses would mean lower cleaning costs. If it were up to us, there’d be no more plastic cups at next year’s 3 October Festival.

But there are lots of other big parties and events before then: King’s Day, the marathon…
“They might be too soon to make any changes, but pilot projects might be up and running by that time. The Leiden pop festival Werfpop was very difficult about the introduction of reusable cups but now they love them and support our campaign. Switching the cups tomorrow would be best, obviously, but 3 October will be here before you know it. It’s hopeful to think that if Leiden can make a change, other places can too.”

There’s a logo on all the Instagram cups. What does Heineken think about being linked to litter and plastic soup?
“The cups are getting more followers and likes, even (Dutch supermodel) Doutzen Kroes gave us one! We’re still waiting to hear what Heineken thinks. At the Amsterdam Dance Event this year, they announced that they wanted to use a lot less plastic, so their intentions are good. We have been told that they’d like to speak to us. We’d like to know their story: at least I have enough cups to take with me.”

By Bart Braun

Deel dit bericht:




Waarom bid je?

Ömer Gürlesin promoveerde op de manier waarop Turkse Nederlanders hun …

Onze (groot)vader

Onlangs nam Job Cohen als hoogleraar afscheid van de universiteit waarmee zijn familie zo …




English page