The Big Picture’s catch of the day

16.10.18

Hannah Loftus

Research Executive, London

Last years’ Blue Planet II hammered home the real threat of plastic pollution to our planet and gave us all the opportunity to see, first hand, the impact of human activity on marine life.

 

So how bad is it? Well, at current rates it’s predicted that the ocean will contain more plastic than fish by 2050. A pretty bleak prospect.

 

However, this past year has seen a powerful rallying call from the public, urging peers, brands and the government to do more to protect the environment. As well as the Government’s ban on micro-beads and the plastic bag levy, brands are also beginning to overhaul their packaging too, with some even pledging to go completely plastic-free.

This is all great news, but we wanted to join in on the action and do our bit as it were. Clearly, we can’t single handedly save the planet from all the plastic in the ocean, so we decided to focus our efforts a little closer to home: the River Thames.

 

In London alone, 300 tonnes of rubbish is cleared from the river each year; 80% of which has travelled from the land – literally from our hands.

 

We teamed up with Hubbub, a charity creating “environmental campaigns with a difference”, who aim to inspire people to lead a more sustainable life in creative ways. To tackle the plastic issue, Hubbub organise plastic fishing trips around the Docklands. They’ve also created the world’s first boat, made entirely from recycled plastic, which is used to help fish for rubbish floating on London’s doorstep.  

Ahoy Poly-Mer, the world's first recycled plastic punt - isn’t she a beauty.
We all jumped aboard, pumped for the day fishing for as much plastic as we could in under an hour.
Taking on the challenge, like ducks to water.

We collected around 8 buckets of litter. Mental. Hubbub helped us split all the different types of litter into separate piles, one for plastic bottles which can be easily recycled, others full of cans, glass and non-recyclables.

We were even able to make our very own crisp packaging mosaic - how artistic.

Among the most interesting finds was an inhaler; a boat ore and set of Indian spices (sealed and ready to use – oh-la-la).

 

The day was interactive, hilariously good fun and most importantly eye-opening. Plastic as a material is incredibly ingrained in our society and whilst it may be cheap and durable, it’s ruining the world we live in.

 

As Sir David Attenborough puts it, “the future of all life now depends on us” – it really is time to tackle the plastic problem. 

 

We can all do our bit, and if you fancy rocking the (plastic) boat to save the planet with Hubbub – I’m sure they’d love to hear from you!