The billions of items of plastic waste choking our oceans, lakes, and rivers and piling up on land is more than unsightly and harmful to plants and wildlife.
According to an article in Forbes last month, 162 people from very diverse walks of life boarded a boat to join the Ocean Plastics Leadership Summit (OPLS) in the North Atlantic Gyre -a circular system of ocean currents. They were on an experiential research expedition to better understand the scope of plastic pollution and to develop cross-industry solutions and partnerships to solve this global challenge over the next decade.
According to the California-based Oceanic Society, Between 4 and 12 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year—enough to cover every foot of coastline on the planet! And that amount is expected to more than double in the next 10 years. But ocean plastic is a problem we can solve. We know how to pick up garbage, and we know how to recycle it.
The OPLS group included producers, manufacturers, brands, recyclers and waste worker representatives. There were financial experts, scientists, and storytellers like National Geographic, researchers, thought leaders and innovators ranging from C-level executives from companies like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, and Dow Chemicals to NGOs like Greenpeace, WWF, and Ocean Conservancy. Whenever the ship approached clumps of sargassum seaweed in the gyer, the participants would stop their meetings and presentations and jump into zodiac boats with their snorkelling gear.
They didn’t see any fish all day.
And at first, they didn’t see much plastic either. That’s deceptive because it’s not visible on the surface. Plastic in the ocean breaks down into small particles that are caught in seaweed and ingested by marine creatures.“What you don’t see is the real problem,” says Michael Groves, CEO of Topolytics, a data analytics business for waste managers who was part of the expedition. He explained that while trawling over a distance of one kilometre, the boat picked up 76 pieces of micro plastic just under the surface.
So, what can we do?
Sometimes it is the little things that can make a big difference. If you take one typical family scenario - a child's birthday party. First of all, we can come together and make a promise to stop buying the small plastic toys for party bags (which we know kids only play with for ten seconds and are rubbish anyway). The second promise is to take away the plastic party bags themselves and replace them with something different. I stumbled across this company (www.plasticfreepartybags.com), whilst looking through Julia Bradbury's Instagram feed. I thought that the concept of a total 'Plastic Free Party Bag' was a genius idea. I wanted to find out more.
As featured in the Huffington Post, Baby London, The Telegraph and shortlisted for the Be The Change Awards, it is no wonder, www.plasticfreepartybags.com is making waves in the industry right now. The idea for born in Spring 2018 when her daughter brought home another plastic-filled party bag from school. She already knew that the items in the bag would last less than a day – but the packaging would stay on this earth over her lifetime. Like most kids, her daughter loved party bags, and it’s a such a generous and kind way to share your child’s special day. But traditional bags are filled with single-use plastic adding to the pollution crisis we are now dealing with and will shape our kids’ future here on Earth.
All our items (as well as the bag itself) in Emmeline's bags are recyclable, biodegradable, reusable or compostable and free from animal products. They wanted to go the extra mile and make these party bags really count, so she has spent time sourcing Fairtrade fillers and toys which, where possible, actively support charities or the people who have produced them.
Emmeline very kindly sent me some samples to use for my son's birthday party and I was so humbled by the great work she is doing, I wanted to write about it on my blog. I have already had so many of my friends asking where the party bags were from, which is great news. Word of mouth can be such a powerful way to share a simple message like this.
So, fear not, I am not going to preach to you about plastic and the environment because David Attenborough does a pretty decent job of talking to you about that already. But, I really hope you agree, this is a brilliant party bag concept and that you might to consider using them for your next child's birthday. We can't change the world in one day, but perhaps we can change how we do party bags, one party at a time.
To find out more, please visit https://plasticfreepartybags.com/