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  • Hello, and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Rob.

  • Now Rob, we've talked before on this  programme about our love of coffee.

  • Oh yes, indeed. I couldn't function without it.

  • But have you ever thought about the environmental  consequences of all those disposable coffee cups?

  • Oh yes, indeed. I always carry a reusable cup  with me so I don't have to throw one away.

  • So if a disposable cup is one you throw away,  

  • a reusable one is one that  you can use again and again.

  • Yes, there is a big problem with disposable  cups in that many of them can't be recycled,  

  • so there is a lot of waste for  something we only use for a short time.

  • What are the big coffee shop  chains doing about this problem?  

  • We'll find out a little bit more shortly, but  first, a quiz for you. Which country drinks the  

  • most coffee per capitaso not the total amount  of coffee but the average per person. Is it

  • a) Japan b) Kenya, or 

  • c) Finland What do you think, Rob?

  • Ooh, tricky. I don't think the Japanese are  big coffee drinkers and I know they produce  

  • a lot of coffee in Kenya. I'm surprised the  USA isn't on the list but I'm going to go with  

  • Finland. Just because.

  • Well, we'll see if you're right later in the  programme. On a recent BBC You and Yours radio  

  • programme they discussed the topic of coffee cupsSome of the big chains are now charging customers  

  • more for a disposable cup and giving discounts if  people bring their own reusable. However not all  

  • of the shops actually collect old cups and sort  them for recycling in the shop itself. Here's  

  • Jaz Rabadia from Starbucks, Is the store only  interested in facilities inside their shops?

  • It is something that we are in the process of  rolling out and it will be in all of our stores.  

  • It's also not just our stores in which these  cups end up. So we're doing a lot of work  

  • outside of our store environment to ensure that  paper cups can be recycled on the go. We're  

  • working with our environmental charity partner  Hubbub to increase recycling infrastructure  

  • outside of our stores because that too  is where a lot of our cups will end up.

  • So are they just working in their  stores at improving recycling?

  • Rob Well no, after all most people  

  • take their coffee out of the stores, so they are  working on recycling infrastructure outside as  

  • well. This will be things like bins and collection  points which are clearly marked for coffee cups.

  • And what about enabling recycling cups in store?

  • Well, she said that was something they are  rolling out to all stores. Rolling out here  

  • means introducing over a period of time. So  it's starting to happen but is not finished yet.

  • Let's listen again.

  • It is something that we are in the process of  rolling out and it will be in all of our stores.  

  • It's also not just our stores in which  these cups end up. So we're doing a lot  

  • of work outside of our store environment to  ensure that paper cups can be recycled on  

  • the go. We're working with our environmental  charity partner hubbub to increase recycling  

  • infrastructure outside of our stores because  that too is where a lot of our cups will end up.

  • Not everyone, however, believes that  the coffee chains are doing everything  

  • that they can. This is Mary Creagh,  a member of the British parliament.  

  • She compares the situation to that of the  plastic bag charge. This was a law brought  

  • in to force shops to charge customers for  plastic bags, which previously had been free.

  • If you think you're having to pay extra for  something, as we saw with the plastic bags,  

  • we think a similar psychological  measure is needed, a nudge measure,  

  • to encourage people to remember to  bring their reusable cup with them  

  • and of course this is something that the  coffee shops have been fighting tooth and nail.

  • Neil She  

  • thinks that we consumers need a nudge  to help us remember our reusable cups.

  • Rob Yes, we need a nudge,  

  • which is a little push, a reason. In this caseshe is thinking of a law to make them charge more.  

  • But she says the coffee chains really don't want  this, they are, she says, fighting it tooth and  

  • nail. If you fight something tooth and nail you  are against it completely and try to stop it.

  • Neil Let's hear MP Mary Creagh again.

  • If you think you're having to pay extra for  something, as we saw with the plastic bags,  

  • we think a similar psychological  measure is needed, a nudge measure,  

  • to encourage people to remember to  bring their reusable cup with them  

  • and of course this is something that the  coffee shops have been fighting tooth and nail.

  • Time to review our vocabulary, but first,  

  • let's have the answer to the quiz question. Which  country drinks the most coffee per capita? Is it

  • a) Japan b) Kenya, or 

  • c) Finland What did you think, Rob?

  • I took a bit of a guess at Finland.

  • Well, congratulations, your guess was correct.  

  • The Finns on average get through an amazing 12kg  of coffee a year, each. Now, onto the vocabulary.

  • We had a couple of related but opposite wordsSomething disposable is designed to be used  

  • once or a few times and then thrown away andreusable is designed to be used again and again.

  • We then had 'rolling out' which  in a business sense is the process  

  • of gradually introducing something  new. This could be a new system,  

  • new product, new technology or  even a new way of doing things.

  • New ideas often need new infrastructureThis is usually physical structures that  

  • are needed to make something work, for example,  

  • rail infrastructure includes  tracks, stations and signals.

  • A nudge is a small push,  

  • to encourage us to do something. You don't need  a nudge to carry a reusable coffee cup, do you?

  • Oh, no, I'm all for it. In fact, I'd fight  tooth and nail to keep hold of my reusable.  

  • Which is quite a coincidence as that was  our last expression today. To fight tooth  

  • and nail means to make a strong effort to  try to stop something or achieve something.

  • Well, that's all from us. We look  forward to your company next time.  

  • Until then, you can find us in all  the usual places on social media,  

  • online and on our app. Just search  for 'BBC Learning English'. Goodbye!

  • Goodbye!

  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English  from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Sam. How are you, Neil?

  • I've been as busy as a bee this week, Sam.

  • Oh, don't you sound like the bee's knees!

  • All right, Sam, there's no need  to get a bee in your bonnet!

  • As you can hear, English is  full of idioms involving bees.

  • But the sad truth is that bee  numbers are declining at an  

  • alarming rate and in some  places disappearing altogether.

  • And this has serious consequences for humans.

  • Today, one third of the food we eat depends on  insects to pollinate crops, fruit and vegetables.

  • But bees are in trouble. In some  European countries up to half of  

  • all bee species are facing extinctionplacing our food supply chain at risk.

  • Bees are vital in pollinating hundreds of cropsfrom apples and blackberries to cucumbers.  

  • In fact, almost all plants need insects to  reproducewhich is my quiz questionof  

  • the world's top 50 crops, how many  rely on insect pollination? Is it

  • a) 35 out of 50?, 

  • b) 40 out of 50? or c) 45 out of 50?

  • I reckon those busy bees pollinate b)  40 out of 50 of the most common crops.

  • OK, Sam, we'll find out the answer later. Nowif you think back to your school biology lessons,  

  • you may remember that plants and flowers contain  both male and female reproductive parts inside.

  • But what exactly is going on  when bees pollinate a plant?  

  • Here's Claire Bates from BBC World Service  programme People Fixing the World to remind us:

  • What is pollination? All flowering plants need it  to reproduce. Pollen is moved from the male part  

  • of a flower to the female part of a flower, then  fertilisation can happen causing fruit to grow.  

  • Some staple crops such as wheat, rice and corn  are pollinated by the wind however many plants  

  • don't release their pollen easily and this is  where insects, and especially bees, come in.  

  • As they collect nectar to eat, pollen sticks to  them and they carry it from flower to flower.

  • Pollination is the process in which  pollen is taken from one plant to another  

  • so that it can reproduce. This is the  important work done by bees and insects.

  • Only after pollination can the next process  occurfertilisation - when the pollen carried  

  • from another plant fertilisesfemale ovule to make new seeds.

  • Fertilisation occurs in all flowering  plants, some of which like wheat,  

  • potatoes and rice are staple crops - food  that is eaten in large amounts as part of  

  • a community's daily diet and provides a large  fraction of their energy and nutrient needs.

  • Fewer bees reduces pollination levels, meaning  fewer new seeds are created and fewer crops grown.

  • But it isn't just the decline in bee numbers  causing a problem. Like us, bees need to rest  

  • and this has led some to come up with creative  new ways of supplementing bee pollination.

  • One such innovator is Keren Mimran, co-founder of  agro-tech company, Edete. Here she is, explaining  

  • how dropping pollen from drones can pollinate  crops, giving a helping hand to hard-working bees.

  • How come our food security is so much dependent  on an insect that we cannot really control? We  

  • can bring the bees to the orchard or to a field  but we cannot control their behaviour. They do  

  • not come out of the hive when it's raining or when  there's heavy wind, they work only during daytime.  

  • There must be a possibility of developingmechanical solution to the pollination challenge.

  • Keren Mimran speaking on the BBC World  Service programme People Fixing The  

  • World. Bees' behaviour can't be controlled  - when it rains they won't leave their hive  

  • the structure where bees live, either built  by people or made by the bees themselves.

  • So Keren's company has developed drones to drop  

  • pollen on her orchardan area of  land on which fruit trees are grown.

  • The need for these high-tech solutions reflects  

  • the seriousness of the pollination problem  for food security -everyone getting enough  

  • affordable and nutritious food to  meet their daily dietary needs.

  • I had no idea bees were so important, NeilMaybe I underestimated how hard they work.

  • Ah, you mean today's quiz question.  I asked you how many of the top 50  

  • world crops rely on insect pollination.

  • And I said b) 40 out of 50 of the top crops.

  • And you are right! They certainly are the bee's  knees when it comes to pollinating plants!

  • So in today's programme we've been  hearing about the important role  

  • bees play in pollinationtransferring  pollen from plant to plant,  

  • necessary for the next stage of fertilisation  – producing new seeds and fruit inside a plant.

  • Bees and insects play a vital role in growing the  world's staple crops - food which, eaten in large  

  • amounts, makes up the majority of a community's  daily diet and meets their nutrient needs.

  • So bee numbers are directly linked to the issue  of food security - everyone getting enough  

  • affordable, nutritious food  to meet their dietary needs.

  • Which explains why, when bees won't leave  their home - or hivesome people have  

  • started using drones to pollinate their  orchardsland growing fruit trees.

  • And that's it for this edition  of 6 Minute English. Bye for now!

  • Goodbye!

  • Hello, and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil.

  • And hello, I'm Rob.

  • Today we're talking about plastic.

  • Yes, it's our addiction to plastic that is  of concern because this material doesn't  

  • decay very quickly, so once we've used  it, it hangs around for a very long time.

  • It is a problemand decay, by the  way, describes the natural process  

  • of something being destroyed or breaking  down into small particles. We hear so much  

  • about the consequences of having too  much waste plastic around, don't we?

  • Indeed. Not only does it cause a messwildlife, particularly marine animals,  

  • are at risk when they become  entangled in plastic waste,  

  • or ingest it. It's an issue that needs  tacklingor dealing with. And that's  

  • what we'll be discussing today and finding out  what could be done to solve this plastic crisis.

  • OK, first, let's challenge you to answerquestion about plastic, Rob. The first synthetic  

  • plasticthat's plastic made entirely from  man-made materials - was created over 100 years  

  • ago. Do you know what its brand name was? Was it… a) Bakelite

  • b) Lucite or c) Formica?

  • I'm no expert, so I'll say c) Formica.

  • Well, we'll reveal the answer at the end of the  programme. Now let's talk more about plastic.  

  • This man-made substance is everywhere - from  clothing to crisp packets, and bottles to buckets.

  • But the problem is that most of it isn't  biodegradablethat's a word that describes  

  • something that can decay naturally without  harming anything. Each year, 400 million  

  • tonnes of plastic is produced and 40% of that  is single-use. So why don't we stop using it?

  • It's not that easy, Rob, and it's something  Lucy Siegle, a BBC reporter and author, has been  

  • talking about. She was speaking in a discussion  on the Costing the Earth programme on BBC Radio 4,  

  • and explained the issue we have with quitting  plastic but also how our attitude is changing

  • We have this weird psychological attachment to  this material that's been around and it's like  

  • a push and pull. At the one time, we're so  horrified by what we're seeingthe whales  

  • dying, the oceans vomiting plasticbeaming in from all over the world,  

  • and at the same time we're being  told we can't live without it,  

  • so that creates a psychological dissonance  –which I think is the barrier to behavioural  

  • change but I'm finding now awareness has  peaked and it's going over into activism.

  • She mentioned the word psychological –  that's something that affects or involves  

  • our mindso here, psychological  attachment means that in our mind  

  • we feel we have to use plasticwe're addicted.

  • But we also see the negative impact of plastic  – like whales dyingand in our mind we're also  

  • thinking we must stop! This has created what Lucy  says is a 'psychological dissonance' - dissonance  

  • means a disagreement between two opposing  ideasso we're having an argument in our  

  • head about the right thing to dothis is the  'push and pull' of thoughts she referred to.

  • And this dissonance has been the barrier to  us trying to solve the plastic issuebut  

  • now we're starting to do something about it  – we're taking action to reduce our plastic  

  • wastewe're turning to activism. That's  taking action to change somethingit  

  • could be social or political change, or  a change in our behaviour or attitude.

  • Of course there has been a big pushthat means  people have been strongly encouragedto recycle.

  • Maybe in an ideal world the best thing to do is  go plastic-freebut that isn't easy, is it?

  • No, it isn't, and it's something Lucy Siegle  spoke about. Getting rid of plastic in our  

  • lives is a gradual process. But where does  she think we can make the biggest difference?

  • I really think that to concentrate on  stopping the flow of plastics into your life  

  • is easier and more effective in the long termthan trying to go plastic-free from the outset.  

  • We are in the UK, a supermarket  culture, so a lot of the tips and  

  • tricks to decreasing the flow of plastic  are getting round supermarket culture.

  • She says we have a supermarket culture in the  UK. Culture here describes a way of lifeor  

  • a way that we generally behaveand in terms of  food shopping, we tend to do that in supermarkets.

  • So, for example, customers can  make a big difference by putting  

  • pressure on supermarkets to  use less plastic packaging.  

  • It does seem that the future of plastic is  in our handswe need to be more careful  

  • about how and when we use itand use our  collective power to force change if it's needed.

  • But there's no doubt plastic  is useful for many things  

  • so it will be a long time  before it disappears altogether.

  • And earlier I asked you what was the name of  the first synthetic plastic, invented over a 100  

  • years ago. Was it… a) Bakelite

  • b) Lucite or c) Formica?

  • And I said c) Formica. Was I right?

  • Formica is a type of hard plastic used  for covering tables and working areas  

  • in kitchensbut it's not the  oldest type. That was Bakelite.

  • I may have got that wrong but hopefully I'll  have more success recapping some of today's  

  • vocabularystarting with decay, which describes  the natural process of something being destroyed  

  • or breaking down into small particles –  which plastic takes a long time to do.

  • Next, we had biodegradablethat's a word to  

  • describe something that can decay  naturally without harming anything.