The BBC’s Blue Planet 2 series has been an amazing journey into our oceans, meeting the incredible creatures and ecosystems that make them their home. As the final episode showed on Sunday night, though, they are facing real challenges from plastic and climate change, which will affect us all. It was heart-breaking to see the coral reefs that are being lost, the seabirds killed by eating plastic and the young dolphin that died from toxins.
It’s easy to feel that the problem is too big to solve, but that’s absolutely not the case and the good news is there’s something we can all do about it. Even we, living here in Cumbria, can make a difference to such vast global problems. Here are five simple things that all of us could do:
1. Drop your MP a quick email. Just let them know you’re worried about what plastic and climate change are doing to the world we all live in. Tell them you want more action to cut the UK’s carbon emissions (one of the causes of climate change). Call on them to support moving away from power stations that use coal and gas, and invest more in clean energy like solar and wind power. Tell them you also want to see the UK take the lead on cutting down on single-use plastic and get behind the UN’s new resolution to stop plastic going into our oceans.
2. Change to an electricity supplier that buys in power from renewable energy only. Visit our homepage for more on this: cafs.org.uk.
3. Use less energy round your house. Two cheap and simple ways to do this are to seal out draughts so you use less heat and change your old light bulbs to LEDs. (And don’t leave stuff on standby – you’d be surprised how much power’s being used!)
4. Instead of buying plastic bottles of drinks and water, get yourself a refillable bottle. A few towns in Cumbria have started refill schemes, where shops, cafes and other premises will give you a free refill of tap water. Look out for signs on shop windows. (If you’re a business, stick up a sign and join in!)
5. Cut down as much as you can on the plastic packaging you take home from the shops. If you bring your own reusable tubs, most places (including some supermarkets) will put your meat, fish and cheese in those. You could also add your voice to national petitions to reduce plastic bottles and packaging – follow groups like Greenpeace, 350.org and 10:10 on Facebook to hear about them. Send a quick email to the head office of the supermarket you shop in to ask for less plastic packaging. And here’s a festive challenge… see how many Christmas presents you can buy that don’t have plastic.
So, the challenges might be big, but we are not powerless – far from it. We can, and we must, turn things around and create a better future for all of us.
Cumbria Action for Sustainability