On Saturday I unexpectedly found myself live on the BBC News 24 channel to talk about the potential tax on single-use plastics that was rumoured to be announced in the UK budget the following week. I was also able to talk about our imminent launch, on 23 November, of a fun, but ultimately serious, Social Media campaign that I, alongside the sustainability awards scheme, the Global Good Awards, are running.
First, a few sobering and shocking facts to put the size of the problem in context:
- It is predicted that plastic will out-weigh fish in the ocean by 2050, if we continue on current usage trend.
- Over 500 million single-use straws are used EVERY DAY in the US alone. That’s 1.6 per person!
- We’ve produced more plastic over the last decade, than in the whole of the last century. And because plastic is so inert and long-lasting, every piece of plastic that has ever been creating since the late 1800s, unless it has been incinerated, still exists in our environment
- In July 2017, a floating plastic mass was found in the Pacific, and it is larger than Mexico. This is one of four discovered since the ’70s, and they are getting bigger.
- Over 50% of the plastic we use is single-use and only 9% of all the plastic we produce is recycled. In fact, more than eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the oceans each year
The problem seems overwhelming, and viewing David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 on the weekend brought home the heart-breaking results of plastic poisoning with footage of a whale carrying her dead baby with her, more than likely poisoned by the plastic contaminated milk provided by the mother.
But, on the positive side, this is an environmental issue we can all help solve, and the answer is oh so simple - just pledge to reduce/ eliminate as much pointless, single-use plastic from our own daily lives as possible.
Most of the public’s use of such plastics is unconscious habit. Forgetting to take a refillable bottle out with them so they do not need to buy expensive, bottled water; not having a forever coffee cup in their work bag so they can reduce use of the single-use take-away cup at the coffee shop; refusing plastic straws in their drinks at the bar; not buying outrageously overpackaged vegetables or ensuring their have a packaway carrier bag with them for those impromptu shopping trips.
What our Social Media campaign is hoping to achieve is wider recognition and education about the use of #PointlessPlastics. We will be encouraging everyone to take a photo of their best, worst examples of the pointless use of single-use plastics and to tweet them with the hashtag #pointlessplastics. We will collate all of the photos and there will be an exhibition of the ‘best of the worst’ at the Global Good awards ceremony in May 2018. There is also a photo competition that will be judged on the day to find the ultimate example of pointless plastic.
So, what are you waiting for? You can make a difference today! Pledge to reduce/eliminate the use of single-use plastics from your lives right now, and whenever you come across an example of #pointlessplastics please take a photo and tweet/instagram it. We promise to collate them all and who knows, you might get your photo exhibited at the Global Good Awards in 2018 in London