Plastic pollution is a global crisis. Plastic marine litter affects at least 267 species worldwide including sea turtles, whales, dolphins and marine birds. A huge amount of plastic litter ends up in our oceans every year. Plastic pollution does not only affect marine life and their environment, it also affects mankind. To put the dilemma into perspective, we are all affected by plastic litter on a daily basis - almost 3/4 of European drinking water is polluted by plastic. Plastic chemicals absorb into the body - 96% of Americans age 6+ test positive for BPA. Each year, plastic consumption increases by 9%.
The recent headlines that China have announced that they will stop accepting imported plastic for recycling is devastating. The UK exports almost 2/3 of its total waste to China for recycling, with businesses shipping more than 2.7 million tons of plastic waste there since 2012. The US has become the cheapest place in the world to make virgin plastic, due a boom that has created a glut of natural gas. Now suddenly China are refusing recycled plastic?! It doesn’t take a scientist to work this one out. The US will be exporting their virgin plastic to China. Seems to us that Trump has somehow manifested the ban in order to help chip away at the $250billion trade deficit the US has with China. This recycling ban will shift global plastics supply from recycled to new material - a step back for the war on plastic. The ban could lead to an environmental pollution cirsis in the UK due to lack of recycling capacity. The UK will not cope with the heaps of plastic waste that is generated and solutions are up in the air. How can you help..? In our last blog post we wrote about how you can make small but vital changes in your daily life, but there are also ways you can get involved and make a difference on a larger scale. We also previously outlined inspiring brands and people helping to protect our world's oceans here.
We have rounded up the top charities fighting hard in the war on plastic that will now really need our support to fight harder.
For over thirty years, this UK charity has strived to protect our oceans and wildlife. They are determined on moving society away from the ‘throwaway’ mindset to a circular economy where we refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle - the 4Rs. They campaigned for single use bags charges and the removal of microbeads from cosmtetics. The charity’s website is incredibly informative on how you can make small changes in your life in order to make big changes for the wellbeing of the ocean. MCS outline various ways you can get involved in the war on plastic: fundraising, donating, volunteering, becoming a supporter, advice on reducing your plastic footprint, and signing petitions. One of the current petitions you can sign is a plee to stop fast food chains, pubs and restaurants to stop (freely) giving out throwaway plastic. MCS is a membership organisation and relies on income from members, individual donations and corporate support. Get involved.
Born from the love of the ocean by a group of Cornish surfers, SAS is a UK marine conservation charity striving to protect the ocean, beaches and marine life. Initially set up in 1990 as a national campaign for improved water quality against sewage, today the charity has expanding support on a broad range of UK coastline issues. They want everybody to enjoy the ocean safely and sustainably. Since 1990, SAS have raised and succeeded many campaigns for the benefit of surfers and ocean lovers. More recently they are at the frontline in the war on plastic. SAS have organised nationwide beach cleans and have raised petitions to introduce a deposit return system for single-use plastics. SAS generates income with community events and campaigns through membership subscriptions, individual and corporate donations, grant making bodies, profits from the sale of merchandise, supporter fundraising events and project sponsorship. Take a look at their website and see how you can help.
This global non-profit organisation addresses the plastic pollution issue and how it impacts us, our oceans and marine life. The charity want to change the world’s attitude towards plastic and seek to educate and engage everyone to rethink plastic through an awareness campaign using film and media. They encourage people to share their powerful documentary A Plastic Ocean (see trailer from our previous blog post here) with communities, schools, friends and family. POF seek donation help to continue their campaigns that raise awareness and social change by inspiring people to rethink plastic.
5 Gyres is a non-profit organisation that use science and education to drive solutions. The charity focuses on scientific research and unearths how plastic is damaging our environment. They sent an Expedition out to the Great Pacfic Garbage Patch (we previously spoke about Vortexes here) and presented results on the estimated size of the gyre and extent of the problem. They then went on to research the extent and quantity of plastic pollution in all 5 gyres and continue to present their fndings at universities and organised discussions. In 2012, 5 Gyres were the first to discover that plastic microbeads are seriously polluting our water and used the information to help convince large companies to stop including the unneccessary ingredient. Their voice was strong and at the end of 2015 President Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act. Without Charities like this we would be left in the dark without facts and figures surrounding the plastic crisis. Their work is paramount. You can show your support by donating.
Greenpeace was founded in 1971 by environmental activists .With offices in over 40 countires, they are an international environmental organisation with a goal to “ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity”. Their campaigns are mainly focused on global warming, deforestation and overfishing. Greenpeace are also fighting strong in the war on plastic and are calling on governements to act. They are encouraging us to all act together by creating closed loop systems that will allow us to reudce and reuse materials rather than them becoming waste pollution. They are urging if we take action now we can protect the world’s oceans for future generations. At this moment Greenpeace are calling on Coca Cola to reduce their plastic footprint - this takes effort, time and funding. Greenpeace are also currently calling for a UK plastic bottle deposit return scheme - you can sign to show your support. The organisation does not accept funding from governments, corporations or policital parties yet rely on the loyal 2.9million individual supporters. People like you. Visit the website to see how you can donate and support.
Did you check out our other blog post where we highlighted 'Surfers Not Street Children' as a remarkable charity doing wonderful things for street children in South Africa? You can find that post here.