…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.
The panel comprised some big names in the worlds of Marine Science, and Sustainabilty.
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;
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.
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…?