Plastic. It is everywhere; from take away food containers, disposable lighters, water bottles, carrier bags, pens, plastic pill pots, shampoo containers and drinking straws. It is a fantastically durable cheap material. However, it is plastic's durability that is it's downfall.
There is a general view that plastic breaks down. It doesn't, instead it 'breaks up'. Plastics degrade into smaller and smaller pieces until they become microplastics (less than 5mm long). Global demands for plastic products has increased. However, just 5% of plastics are recycled effectively, 40% end up in landfill and shockingly, at least 33% in fragile ecosystems like the world's oceans (New Plastics Economy Report, January 2016). The impacts and future prospects are devastating.
If we continue at current rates, by 2050 in our world's oceans, plastic will at least be equal to, if not outnumber fish populations.
(New Plastics Economy Report, January 2016)
Last night my friend Harriet and I went to Bristol Aquarium to the premiere of 'A Plastic Ocean'. We were able to walk around the aquarium after hours which was pretty cool - it was so quiet with just 300 people, a real luxury! However, the screening of the documentary film followed by the Q and A session with the producer, Jo Ruxton was the highlight.
I believe the film itself really shows the problem of plastic we face globally. Although I knew of the problem, I wasn't truly aware of the impacts. I strongly recommend giving the documentary a watch. There is some beautiful but also heart breaking footage. If you thought the baby turtle deaths due to human activity in the BBC's Planet Earth 2 Cities episode was tear jerking, you might need a box of tissues for this! Hopefully the shocking reality shown in the film will spark a #AWaveofChange
As for taking action here in Bristol and the UK, there is a very active community, City to Sea who were involved with organising the premiere. After watching the film, I have been inspired to get involved in the movement, particularly in regards to lowering my single-use plastic consumption. There is now a plastic-free challenge on the horizon! I am also going to go help Clean up Bristol Harbour - come too! The more hands the better!