My eyes were first opened to the problem of ocean plastic pollution when I made a programme about it for Costing the Earth on Radio 4. I was shocked by how much plastic I could find in just an hour’s beachcombing. I’m very worried by the effect of all the plastic in our seas - particularly its direct impact on wildlife and the problem is manifesting all over the world, even the remote corners.
The single-use plastics that annoy me the most are plastic stems on cotton buds (totally unnecessary - why not ban and replace with paper?); plastic tampon applicators (again, totally unnecessary); small plastic water bottles and disposable plastic tops on takeaway coffee cups.
I’m ticking 1. Remember your refillable water bottle and 2. Take a reusable coffee cup off my Action Plan as I refill my metal canteen with tap-water rather than buying any bottled water, and I take my re-usable on-the-go coffee cup from the SAS shop with me!
We’ve all reduced our use of plastic bags enormously - we can do the same with all sorts of other everyday, throwaway plastic objects. All it requires is a bit of thought - we really can make a difference.
Hayle to Godrevy in Cornwall is my favourite stretch of the UK’s coastline, I find it truly inspirational. I have also visited far away beaches where very few humans have trodden. To my dismay they were covered in plastic waste of one form or another. I’ve touched plastic material toothed by grizzly bears and viewed floating plastic shoes on vast kelp beds whilst as sea.
Plastic for the most part a very visible and destructive material. It has increased in manufacture and use beyond what we could ever have imagined over the last fifty years, this should be of concern to everyone. My top number one criminal is single use plastic water bottles. Many wealthy governments have spent hundreds of millions of pounds providing safe water to drink. This is something to be proud of and to make full use of. Helping others across the world to provide safe clean water is key to helping solve one part of this plastic problem. The marketisation of water and its packaging in plastic is therefore number one on my plastic hate list.
Refillable water carrying items is one object that I see in use more and more. It is no new thing but many charities and NGO’s are now promoting its use and I like how it’s developing. It is a simple and practical way to say no to plastic production. Carry and use one as a badge of honour and resistance.
Every single turn of the earth, every wave, every breath you take and every-time you choose not to buy plastic is in some way connected to everything else. When you choose to reduce or tackle your plastic footprint your choice is part of this continuing shift in forces which shape the earth and its future.
My life dramatically changed 4 years ago. Until then I had played it fairly safe with life: working hard in a corporate job, spending my annual leave going on nice holidays and on the odd weekend I wasn’t glued to my emails, I would squeeze in some time outside. For all its downfalls, being diagnosed with cancer gave me the confidence to throw myself into everything whole-heartily and follow the life I imagined, so I quit my job and dedicated my time to exploring the length and breadth of the UK on paddle boarding adventures highlighting the issue of plastic pollution.
Last year, I paddle boarded the 400 mile length of England’s waterways, finding huge amounts of plastic bottles, as well as plastic wrappers and bags. And on May 18th this year, I became the first female to solo paddle board across the English Channel. The plastic items we use once fragment as they filter out to the ocean and become micro-plastics that are particularly harmful to marine life and eco systems, but because they are largely unseen by the naked eye, it's easy to ignore how serious the problem is. During my record breaking 7 hour crossing I collected water samples for micro plastic analysis to support this issue.
We need to drastically start phasing out single use plastics and take a zero tolerance approach to our consumption. There are sustainable and convenient alternatives to plastic bottles, bags, straws and cotton buds and every piece of single use we refuse is a small but significant victory.
California and Baja are my favourite stretches of Coastline, but I've been lucky enough to travel to the most remote Coastlines in the world and sadly, I've seen plastic floating everywhere. It's extremely sad. Plastic bags, water bottles and plastic containers seem to be the most prolific items I've seen.
The Global Wave conference was really inspiring and it was great to meet so many like minded people taking action against single-use plastics. I would say we need to all find a way to use as many natural products as we can. We need to charge for biodegradable plastic bags as well and to eventually ban them altogether.
I’m a Regional Rep for Surfers Against Sewage and the founder of Paddle Against Plastic. My mission is to inspire positive environmental change through adventure, positive messages and simple solutions.
Last year I Stand Up Paddle boarded the entire Cornish coast and this summer I will be circumnavigating the Isle of Skye. Along the way, I clean beaches and highlight the devastating impact plastic, used once on land, is having on our coastlines and wildlife. The most common items I’ve found are plastic bottles, ghost fishing gear and food packaging.
I am supporting the SAS call for Plastic Free Coastlines by encouraging the use of alternatives to single use plastics, like refillable water bottles and coffee cups – so simple.
I run beach cleans around North Devon and more people are becoming engaged with the issue, but my main concern is the seaside businesses that are using single use plastics extensively.
My favourite stretch of the UK Coastlines is from St Ives to the Lizard. Not only is it my home, but it is one the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
I’m worried about how well kids are educated about plastic pollution. I think it should be taught and introduced into all curriculums in schools internationally. On surf expeditions, I’ve seen a lot of plastic in the line-up, mostly in Asia and particularly Indonesia.
Food that is overly wrapped in supermarkets really annoys me. Simple, stylish products like reusable coffee cups and water canteens are great and minimise single use plastic. My partner and I use ours for tea, coffee and water every day and we love it!
But we’ve got to think outside the box and not be selfish. We’ve got to care for the future of our planet and remembering that it is a lot more powerful than we are, if we carry on abusing it, it will sure enough abuse us back, or just take away what we once had.