Newsletter June 2018
Original posting June 2018
Our author on research expedition, Henderson Island
Welcome to this month’s rundown on planetary plastic pollution, and most importantly: all the ways you & other people are being part of the solution!!
Plastic Bags: The Positives.
We all know why plastic bags are bad. So without mentioning any tragic turtle stories or sad statistics, here’s a few plastic-bag related reasons to be happy -
Over 30 countries have banned plastic bags so far, including China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Hong Kong, South Africa, India & England (plus many states in Australia & the US are implementing their own bag bans as national governments are too slow to act).
As an individual, by using a reusable bag, you personally can save about 25,000 plastic bags from being used over your lifetime.
A study published this month showed that there are less plastic bags being found on the sea floor, suggesting that bag bans & charging for bags is having a real & measurable impact!! Government scientists from the UK looked at seabed trawls for the last 25 years, and found a sharp decline in plastic bags being caught since 2010. While overall, other marine litter (like drink bottles & coffee cups) are still a big issue, it is clear that individual behavioural change can make a huge difference -
“It is encouraging to see that efforts by all of society, whether the public, industry, NGOs or government to reduce plastic bags are having an effect,” - Dr Thomas Maes, lead author & marine litter scientist.
How to remember to BYO bag
They say it takes 30 days to make a habit. To kick-start your plastic-bag remembering habit here’s a few tips from my e-book to get you started:
- Have a lot of bags. Everywhere.
- Put them where you’ll use them (in your car, hanging on the back of your front door, in your handbag, near your car keys, with a shopping list...)
- Put them back after you use them.
- Get tiny bags that fit in your pocket / bag easily and keep them on you all the time.
- Set an iphone location reminder that tells you to bring your bags when you arrive at your local supermarket. Or an old school post-it note on your dashboard.
- If you forget, don’t beat yourself up.
It’s hard to start off with. You’ll forget bags, spill lid-less coffees and accidentally get served straws. But instead of being overwhelmed by our plastic-filled world, learn from the mistakes and keep trying. Trust me, it gets easier. Considering that every piece of plastic ever made still exists, every piece of plastic you don’t use makes a difference and potentially saves a turtle. And considering that plastic can last forever, you’ve probably saved many turtles.
“The race is now on between the technoscientific forces that are destroying the living environment and those that can be harnessed to save it. . . . If the race is won, humanity can emerge in far better condition than when it entered, and with most of the diversity of life still intact.”– Edward O. Wilson, The Future of Life
We all agree that plastic is a huge, life threatening issue. However if you’re reading this then you also agree that we already have all the solutions we need - it’s just a matter of accessing them. The same goes for technology, where we have so many amazing gadgets and robots that can clean & filter & melt & recycle & repurpose, but often we just aren’t using them correctly yet.
With this in mind, every month I’ll be sharing a scientific or technological update that is making a difference. Number one: The Plastic Tide, a group using drone technology in an incredible way to map plastic pollution. They use their drones to survey beaches & coastlines, plus unique Machine Learning algorithms, to document marine debris on beaches. And the data they collect (plus the algorithms) are then open source - this means anyone can add to, or use, the global information. This engages citizen scientists to do their own surveys, and collects information which can then be used to influence local policy makers.
If you’ve got a drone, or just want to learn more, theplastictide.com
And to finish up this month, here’s one of my favourite quotes from the legendary Jane Goodall –
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
So get out there, use your new knowledge, products & positivity and keep up the fight against plastic pollution. We’ve got this.