Letter to the Editor by Nigel Jenkins from PACT (published September 2017)
Following a recent screening of the new Plastic Ocean film in Kendal, Penrith’s transition town group, Penrith Action for Community Transition (PACT) is now campaigning to reduce our use of plastics locally.
Plastic Ocean is a very honest and often heart-wrenching insight into the damage we are all doing to our planet’s seas, particularly through the use of throwaway plastics which all too often can end up in water courses and eventually our oceans.
Plastics are polluting the seas with toxins, killing marine and bird life, and entering human food chains.
As widespread use of plastics only took hold in the mid-20th Century the problem has occurred well within many of our lifetimes, and much of that damage is already irreparable, given there’s no viable way to simply hoover up all these contaminants.
The production of plastics also consumes valuable fossil fuel-derived materials and energy at a time when climate change targets mean we must drastically reduce our profligate use of fossil fuels and the associated CO2 emissions.
Clearly the plastics problem is global, and as consumers the challenge can seem overwhelming given we’re all faced with seemingly endless plastic every time we buy anything.
Nonetheless there are simple actions that we can all take locally as part of informed purchasing decisions.
For instance we’re very fortunate to have clean drinking water available on tap throughout the UK, so just using refillable water bottles rather than bottled water saves us money, and prevents having to recycle or dispose of the many millions of single-use bottles consumed in UK every year.
Likewise choosing to buy loose fruit and vegetables, reusing shopping bags and where possible generally selecting items with little or no plastic packaging all contributes to reducing our plastics dependence.
PACT will continue to campaign on this issue, including engaging with consumers, retailers and those further up supply chains, aiming to reduce the local plastics demand and increase the non-plastic options available to us all.
We also hope to offer a free screening of Plastic Ocean in Penrith in the near future, and of course we’d be delighted to hear from anyone who also feels strongly on this issue and would like to get involved with the campaign.