We all have to do our bit to stop this
STANDING on a sunsoaked Caribbean beach of pure white sand is the dream escape from reality for many of us.
But on tropical Roatan the tideline is littered with plastic debris from broken chairs to tiny splinters, from bags to bottle tops.
It is, of course, unfair to pick on Roatan which relies heavily on tourism. I have seen far worse plastic pollution in Asia and Africa and you can see the same debris on our own shores.
But talk of banning plastic is unreasonable. Like so many inventions – it has the power to do good and also to do ill.
A lot of life-saving medical equipment is made from plastic. Using light plastic bottles makes transport cheaper and greener by reducing fuel use and in turn greenhouse gas emissions.
Declaring war on the industry will also require a clear Plan B. It has a turnover of £23.5billion and employs 170,000 in the UK alone. But the root of the pollution problem is single use plastic – the shopping bag or cutlery we use once and then throw away for them to fester for decades.
The solution has to range from individual to global action. As individuals we should recycle whenever possible but a way has to be found to improve recycling both here and in countries where it is non-existent.
We also need to turn good intentions into action. So we have to remember to take bags for life to the supermarket and to refill bottles instead of chucking them away.
Manufacturers should produce only plastics that can be recycled. We need standardised recycling across the country instead of the mish-mash of schemes that bamboozle us at the moment.
Internationally, we need to help poorer countries to find ways to deal with their waste which all too often gets chucked on to the street or into rivers which carry the debris to the sea.
Ultimately we all need to take action. Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet has triggered a sea change in attitudes towards plastic – but I bet many of those wringing their hands have not changed their habits. It’s time to stop agonising and start taking control.