Is Plastic a Load of Rubbish?
National Marine Week is taking place next week. In honour of this occasion, National Museum Cardiff will have a sea life exhibition from the 31st of July until the 5th of July. This exhibition will feature installations made from real sea plastic salvaged from the beaches in Wales.
These installations, made by the National Museum Cardiff Youth Forum, are to raise awareness of the damage our use of plastic is causing to the oceans and the marine life that inhabits them.
In the United Kingdom, the Marine Conservation Society found 718 pieces of litter for every 100 metre stretch of beach. (The Independent). To tackle this, Theresa May and her government announced earlier this year that they plan for the UK to eliminate all single-use plastic by 2042. May gave an idea of our problem with single-use plastic, stating: “In the UK alone, the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls”.
Alongside the 5p carrier bag charge, which was first introduced to Wales in 2011, the government will be looking at new measures to deter the use of single-use plastics. This announcement followed calls by activists to introduce a charge for plastic straws and coffee cups, which would hopefully encourage consumers to bring their own reusable alternatives.
However, critics of the government’s plans have said that their deadline is unambitious, with Sir Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats commenting: “The Conservatives should be eliminating all avoidable plastic waste now – a target of 2042 beggars belief”.
One of the leaders in the fight against unnecessary waste is France, with their pledge to ban disposable plastic cups and plates by 2020. (CNN).
More locally, Rhiwbina in Cardiff has started its journey to becoming the first plastic-free suburb in the capital, with an array of businesses no longer offering plastic straws and offering incentives to those who bring their own reusable cups. No Straw Stand was set up by two Cardiff University students, Nia Jones and Douglas Lewns, to beseech businesses to ditch plastic straws and make Cardiff a greener and more sustainable place to live.
Their website reasons: “A plastic straw will get used for an average of 20 minutes only and then get thrown away to stay in our environment far longer than you or I. 36.4 billion of these plastic straws are used annually in the EU – imagine the environmental damage these are causing”. (No Straw Stand).
Sophie Rae has started a Kickstarter to launch Cardiff’s very first not-for-profit zero waste store called Ripple.
Plastic-free One Week Challenge
As the sea life exhibition is starting on the 31st of July, I, as a young person and student will be taking on a weeklong plastic-free challenge. This will mean my not using any single-use plastic and not making any waste that cannot be recycled.
The aim of this challenge is to see how we, as consumers, can have an impact on the waste we produce and making our communities a more sustainable and efficient place to live.
You will be able to follow my endeavours on The Sprout’s Instagram: @Feedthesprout. In addition to this, I will be keeping a journal and recording a video diary.