Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. A Message in A Bottle....

Monday 21st November 2016

Plastic Bottle in Rocks, Scilly ~ © BareFoot PhotographerPlastic Bottle in Rocks, Scilly ~ © BareFoot Photographer

On the 16th November 2016 a letter was sent out across Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and beyond the Tamar. The letter was from the Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition and was sent to our MP's & Councillors, the British Soft Drinks Association, the British Food & Drink Federation, the British Plastics Federation, the Duchy of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, Defra Ministers, Shadow Ministers and many other individuals and organisations across our beautiful county and beyond. What was in the letter....?

The Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition, of which we are a member, are supporting the Surfers Against Sewage Message in a Bottle campaign and asking as many individuals, organisations and businesses across Scilly, Cornwall and beyond to do the same.

The Message in a Bottle campaign highlights the urgent need for a drinks container deposit/return scheme as part of the UK's national litter strategy and the benefits that this will bring to our environment.  Schemes such as this have reduced bottle and can litter by up to 90% in places such as Germany, the Netherlands and some parts of the United States and Australia.

An estimated 35.8 million plastic bottles and 59 million cans are used and discarded in the UK each day, of which only a little over half of the bottles are currently recycled, and bottle parts and caps are some of the commonest items of marine litter found on our beaches.  

The image to the right shows part of the "Bottle Top Chain" from Rame Peninsula Beach Care.  In November 2014 Rame Peninsula Beach Care decided to work together with other beach cleaning groups and beach lovers around Cornwall and further afield too, with the idea of collecting all the bottle tops found on beach cleans.  The final chain, launched at an extraordinary event on Tregonhawke beach in April 2015, contained an estimated 65,000 bottle tops - all collected in just three months - and measured over 1.1km long! (click on the image to find out more!).

Plastic Bottles collected on a 50m stretch of Scilly Beach - © BareFoot Photographer

As with the rest of Cornwall, and beyond, beach litter is a problem for Scilly; during 2015 the Trust collected and disposed of nearly half a ton of rubbish from our beaches at organised beach cleans, the majority of which was plastic; this does not take into account rubbish which was undoubtedly collected on other Islands or by individuals and other organisations.

The neverending task of collecting beach litter often seems fruitless, but for every piece we remove that's one less piece for our marine wildlife to get tangled in or mistakenly eat as food.

Tackling this issue at source could help greatly and a Deposit Return Scheme could prevent so many bottles from ending up in our seas in the first place.

So what can we do?

  • First and foremost, sign the Surfers Against Sewage Petition! <---  It will take a minute of your time.
  • Secondly, write to your MP!  Not sure how to or what to write?  Check out the Surfers Against Sewage Webpage which gives you detailed information on how to do it and even a template letter!
  • Thirdly, get yourself a reusable bottle or drinks container.
  • Fourthly, get on social media and share photos of beach litter you've collected; tag manufacturers and companies who make the products and ask them to support a Deposit Return Scheme.
  • Fiftly, join in on organised beach cleans in your local area, or while you're on holiday; if there aren't any organised get on and do your own #2MinuteBeachClean.  It does what it says on the tin and literally takes TWO MINUTES!

Support for this, within the Islands and across the UK, is gaining momentum; as individuals our voices can be ignored but this is harder to do when we work together as a collective.

Previous campaigns by the Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition are proving successful; with fantastic responses being received regarding our "Balloon Release Letter", including a really positive one from Virgin Media and our Microbeads letter with the ban on microbeads in 2017 being announced!

We've got to start somewhere and every little helps, so head on over to the SAS Message in a Bottle Webpage and sign the petition.  Why not click "like" on our FaceBook Page and the Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition Page to stay up-to-date with progress?  And be sure to tag @ScillyWildlife and @Cornish_PPC if you tweet!


Tagged with: Living Seas, Plastic; pollution; bottles; environment; Isles of Scilly; Message in a Bottle;