General ramblings

Plasticification…

September 23, 2013

…Is that even a word?

Not sure. But if it is, I went to the National Marine Aquarium last week to talk about it.

The good people at Start, have teamed up with the National Marine Aquarium to explore all things Ocean-y and sustainable, and held an event looking at the role of Plymouth as Britain’s Ocean City, in cutting plastic waste.

This was a free event, held at the Aquarium, showing an excerpt from the Jeremy Irons documentary Trashed (I talk about it here), which focussed on plastics in our oceans, followed by a panel discussion.

trashed-event

The panel comprised some big names in the worlds of Marine Science, and Sustainabilty.
And me.

Paul Cox, Director of Conservation and Communication at the Aquarium was chairing the evening, and sat on the panel was Richard Thompson-Professor of Marine Biology at Plymouth University, who was in the film, and so is a bona fide film star; Alan Knight-Sustainability Director at Business In the Community; Michael Green-founder of Tapwater.org;
and me.

The film is very thought provoking, and the Q&A afterwards raised some great points.
Alan Knight and Richard Thompson, both pointed out that plastic is not necessarily the enemy-there are many benefits to plastic-it is lighter to transport, and has helped to revolutionise medicine, as just two examples, BUT it is what we do with it after it has been used that is the big issue.
I would go further and say that the biggest issue with plastic, is probably single use plastics (the medical profession, and syringes aside). Paul Cox talked about this at the start of the evening, and about how when you open your eyes to single use plastic, it really is EVERYWHERE. And he posed the question “is it right that things that are made to be used just once, for probably less than an hour, will then take many hundreds of years to degrade, if it does at all?”
In short, NO. It’s not.

I was there as the ‘voice of the consumer’ and the question I was posed was “What is the role of individuals in reducing plastic waste?”
And I guess the short answer is “Use less plastic”.
It always seems to come back to the biggest thing I have learned during My Make Do and Mend Year.
I can only do what I can do. But I do actually have to do it.
It comes back to taking responsibility for our own individual actions.
We all have a choice.

Of course none of us want to see our oceans clogged up with plastic, and our marine life dying, but it seems like a pretty big thing for one person to tackle.
And it is.

An albatross chick with a stomach fill of plastic items

An albatross chick with a stomach fill of plastic items

But we have a choice.
And we can choose to Refuse, Reduce, Re-use and then Recycle our plastic.
Use less, find alternatives, and please please please, recycle what you do use.

I think a plastic free life would be hugely hard, and maybe even impossible.
But it is massively possible to use plastic more mindfully.
To make small changes.
To change one thing.
And then one more thing.
And then one more thing after that.
(For some ideas, see my posts here on a plastic free shower, and Plastic Free July)

From the brief snapshot I got, Plymouth seems to have some movers and shakers, and some people with real passion and drive to make a difference.
There was talk of Plymouth being the first zero-waste city in the UK.
And I LOVE that.
What a fantastic goal.
A Zero Waste Plymouth would show the rest of the UK that it can be done.
But I think the first step, BEFORE zero waste, is for us all to consume less.
How about a Make Do and Mend Plymouth…?

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  • Reply The Year that Was | My Make Do and Mend Year December 31, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    […] making it to the finals of BritMums Brilliance in Blogging Awards, speaking to the WI, being on a guest panel at a Trashed screening at the National Marine Aquarium!, and even speaking to students at the London College of Communication about blogging. I got to […]

  • Reply Polythene Pam September 24, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Great post and so important! We have been boycotting plastic and sourcing alternatives for years now. You can find a load of plastic free products as used by us here on our blog.

    • Reply Jen September 24, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      Great, thankyou-will check it out!

  • Reply Vivienne Downes (@VivienneDownes) September 24, 2013 at 1:02 am

    100% agree … this world’s getting too polluted with discarded plastic & we’re using up natural resources far too quickly. I was pleased when the government announced the carrier bag charge will be introduced next year in England. It will help to make people stop & think, its a small step but a step in the right direction. There are millions of people who don’t care & need enlightening as to the damage that plastic is causing to the environment, wildlife & eventually ending up in the food chain it will come back to haunt us & future generations.

    • Reply Jen September 24, 2013 at 11:28 am

      I really hope the 5p charge has some kind of impact. Glad the government are FINALLY acting on this.

      • Reply beautytherapystudent September 28, 2013 at 11:00 pm

        it will have a giant impact. In N.Ireland (we got it in April) our bag usage has dropped by over 80%! That is a MASSIVE drop in disposable plastics. I still dispise that my OH buys so much bottled water when tap water is fine and at a push I would be delighted to buy him a filter bottle/jug! Roll on more government schemes to reduce our waste and packaging 🙂 x

        • Reply Jen September 29, 2013 at 7:43 pm

          Wow, 80%, that’s brilliant 🙂

  • Reply CookaholicKate September 23, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    If there is one thing I have noticed in switching to a local veg box ( the fantastic taste, shop local ethic , goes without saying)is the huge reduction in my plastic waste…none of those awful plastic trays and the cardboard box goes back each week to be reused…along with meat from the butchers I get a real buzz that Im doing my little bit…you are right though …the more people doing “their little bit” could make a huge difference to plastic waste….well done you for highlighting the problem and getting involved.

    • Reply Jen September 23, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      Thanks Kate, sounds like you are doing a great job 🙂

  • Reply treadingmyownpath September 23, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Good to see you spreading the single-use-disposable-plastic word : )

    • Reply Jen September 23, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      Thankyou!

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