How communities are coming together to tackle plastic
By BEL JACOBS
Over 2 million people across 150 countries took up the challenge to #choosetorefuse single-use plastic for #PlasticFreeJuly, making it the most successful, dynamic campaign yet. The month may be over but communities around the country - whether physical or online, charitable or informal - are continuing to work - hard. Here are five of the best.
1. BBC’s Plastics Action page brings together the best content from around the BBC including news, documentaries and consumer programmes - to help you discover everything you want to know about plastics. It’s a collaboration with the Open University and offers piles of information on new solutions and practical tips. Currently up for viewing: videos by Sir David Attenborough, thanking viewers for current actions, asking whether plastic is the new fur, tracing the history of plastic in The Wonder of Plastic as well as a link to the Open University’s page on plastics. Comprehensive.
2. One of the UK’s key environmental campaigners Lucy Siegle turns her sharp eye on the issue in her latest book “Turning the Tide on Plastic.” This is what the Evening Standard had to say: Facts and statistics about plastic’s role in “trashing the planet” are given; current failings in the recycling system are assessed and practical suggestions are offered to reduce the reader’s own plastic consumption. Siegle's mantra is "record, replace, refuse, refuel, rethink"; if just 12 of us follow her plan, we could ditch 15,000 pieces of plastic a year. Siegle is a passionate, knowledgeable voice in a threatened landscape; if you were going to buy one book on the plastic problem, let it be this one.
3. Multi-faceted Cornwall-based non-profit Big Blue Ocean Cleanup is making waves and keeping them going in tackling plastic pollution. Teams help keep coastlines clean and protect marine wildlife, with groups travelling constantly from coast to coast, while the education program goes into schools to teach the new generation about the importance and care of our oceans; advanced technologies to rid the world's oceans of plastic are funded and supported. Big Blue Ocean Cleanup currently works with a variety of NGO's, charities and governmental platforms to help bring real change to the Antarctic Ocean. Find out more here: www.bigblueoceancleanup.org and sign its petition to save the Antarctic here.
4. Ever been part of a #2minutebeachclean? Now, most definitely, is the time to start. The campaign, brainchild of the non-profit Beach Clean Network, encourages beachgoers to clean up the beaches they visit, just 2 minutes at a time. #2minutebeachclean came about when the network’s co-founder, surfer and beach lover Martin Dorey saw the tons of plastic litter thrown onto British beaches by a series of North Atlantic storms in 2013. The campaign has since become one of the fastest growing online environmental movements of recent times, with 400 beach clean stations now dotted across the UK. It works: trials in 2015 demonstrated a 61% decrease in beach litter logged. And it’s not just the UK; beach cleans are taking place all over the world. On World Oceans Day, on June 8th this year, Borey received the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers whose work is making a real difference to ocean conservation. Get involved: https://beachclean.net/. Twitter: @2minutebeachclean. Instagram: @2minutebeachclean. Facebook: @2minutebeachclean
5. While not strictly a community initiative, the role of everyday activism becomes more vital. A friend bought two rolls in the local Co-Op the other day and, reluctant to reach for a clear plastic bag, looked for options. None. So she took the rolls up to the counter, said she’d really rather not use any plastic and that she’d be fine carrying the rolls out of the shop as is. “The guy behind the till looked bewildered,” she told me. “But the woman in the queue behind me completely agreed. I found the fact that we were having a conversation about plastic in one of the places where it’s most used really encouraging.” The tone was light and friendly, she says, which helped. From refusing straws in cafes (and explaining why to staff) to returning packaging at the till, we can all do something. The only thing you need is conviction in your ‘cause’ - and, in the case of plastic, who lacks that?