We were absolutely delighted to be shortlisted by the giffgaff community for the charity vote this year, and overwhelmed to see how many people then voted for WDC. Christmas is a wonderful time of the year and many charities look to the public for support - both the British Heart Foundation and Save the Children are very worthy recipients of the charity payback.
In the lead up to Christmas, you may have been watching the BBC’s recent Blue Planet II series. Here at WDC we certainly have! Alongside fantastic footage of whales and dolphins, the series has also highlighted the issue of ocean plastic throughout, with breath-taking, heart-breaking and brutally honest images of its impacts. The festive season can be a time of year that means a lot of consumption – wrapping paper, presents and Christmas parties mean we produce even more waste than usual, much of it plastic or covered in plastic glitter.
So what has this got to do with whales and dolphins?
Amongst the many threats that whales and dolphins face today, marine plastic is a huge concern. Many people don’t think twice about buying a bottle of water and then discarding it in the next bin; the same holds true for takeaway coffee cups. And this is where the problem starts. A single-use plastic bottle that is discarded in a normal rubbish bin will end up in landfill, if it isn’t blown out of an over-flowing bin or dropped by the recycling truck. From here it might get blown out into the environment and eventually make its way via a river to the sea.
Each year, the average UK household uses 480 plastic bottles, but only recycles 270 of them – meaning nearly half (44%) are NOT put in the recycling. This means that nationally, of the over 35 million plastic bottles being used every day in the UK, nearly 16 million plastic bottles aren’t being put out for recycling. Equally, 7 million single-use coffee cups are used in the UK every day and are currently difficult to recycle, with only two facilities in the UK able to recycle them. This means that a large proportion of recyclable material ends up in landfill or the environment. Once rubbish gets into the environment, it is only a question of time until it will make its way via a river to the sea. Once in the sea, plastic slowly breaks down into a gazillion tiny microplastic pieces which can then enter the food chain.
The plastics we have created and discarded can be devastating for whales, dolphins and porpoises around the world. Manufacturers need to design products that are easier to recycle or that use recycled material. Supermarkets must reduce plastic packaging and authorities should develop better ways of collecting and processing plastic waste. Just as importantly, we as consumers need to rethink our attitude to single-use plastic, and redouble our efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle.
At Christmas time, why not consider reusable straws, recycled wrap and bamboo cups. You can even buy plastic-free glitter!
We can pick up plastic from beaches, we can design ways of hoovering it out of the ocean, but the only way to end pollution in the sea is to stop it from entering.
Earlier this year, WDC set up notwhalefood.com to help tackle this issue. The site is full of ideas and inspiration to help you reduce your plastic use. Find out more at notwhalefood.com and get involved in the conversation using the #NotWhaleFood hashtag on social media.
WDC is the leading global charity committed to protecting whales, dolphins and porpoises. If you'd like to use your Payback to make a donation to Whale and Dolphin Conservation once you receive it, you can. Your donation will go towards improving the welfare of sea life across the globe.
Text GGWD75 £1 to 70070 (you can adjust the amount to £2, £3, £4, £5, or £10 if you like)