Plastic is choking our oceans.
Sir David Attenborough told us during Blue Planet 2 that “we dump eight million tonnes of plastic into the sea every year”. It’s killing and harming marine life:
- turtles eat plastic bags mistaking them for jellyfish
- seabirds are found with their stomachs full of plastic items
- plastic debris can get lodged in coral and affect the health of reefs
- microplastics are consumed by animals like plankton, passing the problem back up the food chain – to us.
Plastic is found in the deepest reaches of the ocean, and even in remote Arctic sea ice. It’s a sobering example of our footprint on Earth.
As our plastic consumption is set to skyrocket, it’s clear that urgent action is needed.
But what can we do to help?
We need to act now – there’s no time to waste. Things like bottle deposit schemes are a good place to start, but we’re so reliant on plastics that we need to do a lot more to wean ourselves off them. A plan to ban avoidable single use plastics – such as plastics cups and cutlery – could make the real difference we need to protect the planet.
We also need businesses to take the issue seriously, as some are already – whether it’s supermarkets having a plastic free aisle, companies finding alternatives to plastic packaging, or a business like Sky bringing this urgent issue to life for millions of customers.
As individuals we can also help by making lifestyle changes, like recycling more or drinking from reusable water bottles. You might think your contribution is small, but together our collective action is powerful.
Action around the world
As the Heads of the Commonwealth countries meet in London in April 2018, all eyes are turning to them to provide real leadership to deal with this scourge.
From tropical rainforests in places like Borneo, polar ecosystems in Canada, coral reefs in Belize and grasslands in Kenya, the Commonwealth embraces a huge diversity of wildlife and environments. These countries are home to over a third of the world’s population, and are therefore in a strong position to kick-start the change we need to see.
The actions of some Commonwealth countries – like plastic bag bans and bottle deposit schemes – are already leading the way in dealing with plastic waste, but we’re so reliant on plastics that we need to do a lot more to wean ourselves off them.
The Heads of the Commonwealth must show global leadership, acting together to defeat this plastic plague.