It’s time to take plastic off the menu

14th November 2017

Sir David Attenborough has always been on my celebrity dinner party list, and I’m thrilled by his return to the BBC for Blue Planet II. I’ve been marvelled both by him, and by the oceans beyond our more familiar shorelines.

As magical as the marine life and cinematography is in the new series, within the first few minutes, Sir David admits the “uncomfortable fact of the state of our oceans”.

Plastic is clearly the ocean’s worst enemy.  The Ellen Macarthur Foundation announced that “at least 8 millions tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year…if no action is taken the ocean is expected to contain more plastics than fish by 2050”.

As a consumer I recognise I have a responsibility to reduce the impact on our oceans.  I’ve embraced the ‘refuse the straw’ campaign, am an avid recycler, religiously refill my reusable water bottle and have a foldaway shopping bag in every bag I own.  As a researcher it’s encouraging to witness an increase in consumers taking an active interest in the ethical practices of the companies they buy from and demonstrating a greater consciousness around packaging, and in particular plastic.

It’s big brands that are leading the way to help change consumer behaviour.  Companies that actively help tackle ocean waste are certainly gaining my respect, and in turn my shopper pound.  I’m usually a G&T girl, but Bacardi’s no straw initiative has saved nearly one million plastic straws from polluting oceans, and (from January) Weatherspoon chains will no longer automatically put plastic straws in their drinks.  Pret a Manger is also trialling a new free refill scheme to replace the sale of single-use plastic bottles and Sky is banning all single-use plastics in its products, operations and supply chain by 2020.

My prediction is that over coming years, purpose-driven brands like these will yield the results in sales and build new brand advocates, and I hope that many brands will follow.  As Sir David says, “we have a responsibility” to take plastic off the menu, so brands, as well as us as consumers, have a responsibility to minimise environmental impact.

Well said David.  You’re welcome round for that dinner party anytime!