Testing the Waters: Greenpeace takes the Plastic Problem to Parliament

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You’ve probably heard – plastic pollution is the eco-topic of the moment. It seems every environmental NGO or campaigning organisation is riding in the tailwind of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet (can we please record him speaking about every world problem before he sadly passes? It seems he alone has the magic touch for reaching the masses).

Greenpeace recently published a report named ‘Testing the Waters: Microplastics in Scottish Seas’ off the back of research carried out by the Beluga 2 in the remote seas of Scotland. Last year, Greenpeace scientists took samples from the waters, froze them on board, and transported them to the University of Exeter where Greenpeace have a base of scientists who were poised, ready to analyse. As you can imagine… the conclusions ain’t good.

  • Microplastics were found in almost two thirds of samples from 27 different sites
  • A huge variety of plastics are ending up in our seas, the biggest culprit being polyethylene – the plastic used for milk bottles, household cleaning products and plastic carrier bags
  • Research has shown that the presence of microplastics in seawater can have physiological and behavioural consequences for marine organisms

If this is what has been unveiled in remote Scotland, can you imagine the scale of the plastic problem elsewhere on the planet? 

On Thursday morning, myself and other Greenpeace volunteers visited the Houses of Parliament to listen to MPs and, campaigners and experts speak about the findings of the report.

Greenpeace volunteers at the Houses of Parliament

From left to right – Michelle (Camden), Lucy, Ferghal and Lauren (all Shoreditch), me (Southwark), John and Sam (South West London)

The event was sponsored by Robert Jenrick – Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, and Tory MP for Newark, Nottinghamshire.

He also happened to be the person I asked “do you work here?” as I frantically tried to find a loo before the event kicked off. He seemed thoroughly unimpressed, and to which I could not give less of a fudge. Are politicians beyond giving helpful directions?! Anyway, that’s by the by… he supports the idea of a plastic tax – and he’s the guy who can make it happen – so I can get on board.

Robert Jenrick MP

Robert Jenrick MP

Other speakers included:

  • Professor Brendan Godley, Conservation Scientist
  • Dr David Santillo, Greenpeace Scientist from Exeter (who studied the water samples for the report)
  • Fiona Nicholls, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner

Whilst eating an exceptionally good pain-au-chocolat and enjoying the sun by the Thames, I had a good chat with Luke Pollard – Labour MP for Plymouth. Being by the sea, marine conservation is something he and his constituents feel extremely passionate about. We talked about a potential ULEZ, but for the coastline around Plymouth. You heard it here first.

I left the event feeling positive about the potential for a plastic-free planet. Tory, Labour, Greens alike, this is an issue that is beyond party politics. And everyone seems to want to seize the energy of the present moment to drive this win for the environment home. We got dis!

If you haven’t already, please sign the following petitions:

  1. Greenpeace – Plastic-Free Supermarkets
  2. 38 Degrees – Introduce a tax (levy) on throwaway plastic
  3. Marine Conservation Society – STOP the plastic tide!

 

 

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