For those of you who watched last week’s Blue Planet, you would have seen the awful footage of all the plastic in our seas.
At least 8 million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the Earth’s oceans every year, with some studies saying it could be as much as 12.7 million tonnes.
Sea creatures are being poisoned by the chemicals as well as choked by the particles and humans are therefore ingesting this nasty stuff too – the fish we eat and even the sea salt we put on our dinners.
Plastic is one of those inventions that seemed like a miracle when it was first produced. Really strong, durable, it can be moulded to pretty much any shape you want and can be stretched or thickened depending on the need.
There’s no doubt that it’s a useful material, just as there is now no doubt that it is also a menacing threat to our environment.
Greenpeace recently ran a campaign to ban microbeads from every day household products after it was discovered that these tiny pieces of plastic were being washed down our sinks, out into the water courses and finding their way into the sea and therefore back on our plates.
Some facial exfoliators would release 100,000 of these beads with just one wash of your face. Polluting the food chain in this way goes all the way through the web – plastic has been created specifically to last and so it does, in the stomachs of fish which are eaten by birds which are eaten by larger mammals which may then be eaten by us.
National Geographic have been talking about a recent study that has tried to estimate how much plastic has been manufactured since the very beginning and the impact it is having now. A massive 8.3 billion metric tonnes has been produced worldwide and perhaps sadly but not shockingly 6.3 billion metric tonnes is still present as plastic waste. There is currently a campaign being run by Surfers Against Sewage called Plastic Free Schools. We know that to cause an effective paradigm shift the best place to start is education of the young and this organisation is urging schools to commit to becoming leaders by example.
Schools would follow five objectives that include eliminating single use plastics in the school, undertaking their own education projects and writing to MPs.
If a child is brought up to think about the products they use as well as the packaging of that product, they are more likely to carry this through into adult life and make more environmentally friendly purchases.
I would like to think that the children involved in this campaign would take their information into their homes too, so that our plastic revolution can be tackled from all sides. For more information please visit sas.org.uk.