The Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) annual ‘Plastic Challenge’ starts on Monday, 1 July and some big names are taking part, says the charity.
It’s a national campaign to get the public to sign up to avoid single-use plastic as much as possible during the whole of July. So far, over 6,000 have signed up to give it a go, and the charity hopes that by the end of the month, last year’s record figure of 9,000 Challengers will be broken.
MCS kicks off the 2019 Plastic Challenge at three events in zero waste shops in England, Wales and Scotland on Saturday, 29th June. The events, at Bulk Market in Hackney, Natural Weigh in Crickhowell and the Eco Larder in Edinburgh will encourage people to sign up, offer top tips on how to get started and give Challengers spinach seeds so they can start growing the leafy green veg, generally only sold in plastic bags at most supermarkets, at home.
Celebrities concerned about single use plastic in their lives are also getting involved. Three MCS Ocean Ambassadors have agreed to take on the July Challenge.
Deborah Meaden, entrepreneur and dragon on BBC2’s Dragons Den says: “I’m really concerned about the excessive packaging that you find in supermarkets and I’ll be going all out to face the Plastic Challenge head on. I know I won’t be able to eradicate all single-use plastic out of my life, but I’ll be giving it a damn good try. I’d urge everyone to give it a go. We must act now.”
Ben Garrod – Professor of Evolutionary Biology, author and TV presenter says: “For giving us so much, we should do all we can to ensure our seas continue to flourish. I’m taking on the Plastic Challenge to show that it is possible to make an impact on our single-use plastic lives. I travel a lot so I know it’s going to be hard, but I’ll be tweeting about my experiences and I hope it’ll help others on the same journey.”
Sharron Davies MBE – World, European, Commonwealth and Olympic swimmer and sports broadcaster, says: “Water has played a huge part in my life but it breaks my heart to see how we are abusing our seas and oceans. As a mum to a teenager, I know the Plastic Challenge will be tough, because like so many people, I often opt for convenience and that generally comes in single-use plastic. But I’m determined to give it my best shot.”
Britain is still heavily wedded to single-use plastic – so it won’t be an easy month for those taking part. Of the more than 8 million tonnes of plastic that gets dumped in our oceans every year, half of it comes from disposable plastics that are only used once before being thrown away.
MCS runs hundreds of beach cleans annually and during last year’s Great British Beach Clean, 70% of the litter found on almost 500 UK beaches cleaned by MCS volunteers was made of plastic or polystyrene, posing a huge threat to wildlife and humans. Plastic bags, bottles and tiny plastic pieces are regularly found in the stomachs of turtles and other sea creatures and in some cases have caused their death from starvation or choking.
Erin O’Neill, MCS Digital Editor, is coordinating the Plastic Challenge for the charity: “Our website offers all sorts of tips and advice for those taking part during July. You can follow our social media feeds to get tips from other Challengers, share your wins, however small, or just see what lengths people are going to when trying to cut down.
“However long you last – an hour, a day, a week or the whole month – we’d love to know you’re out there, giving it a go.”
To take part in the MCS Plastic Challenge, simply register at www.mcsuk.org/plastic-challenge and get 24/7 help with the MCS book How To Live Plastic Free – a day in the life of a plastic detox (Published by Headline UK, ISBN 978-1-4722-5981-3). For details visit: www.mcsuk.org/news/MCS-Live-Plastic-Free-Book