Remember 1985? I was only 4 but I remember it vividly, life was simpler (or maybe it just appeared to be). I remember sitting on the back of my mum’s bicycle as she took me to nursery, I had little hand-me-down shoes that my mum had painted red, we had scorching hot summers, snowy winters and a huge hole in the ozone layer.

The world was shocked when the British Antartic Survey revealed details of their findings – a gaping hole had appeared in our planetary protection – and we were to blame.  I doubt I remember this announcement, I don’t think I watched the News at 10 back then.  But I do remember growing up as a kid with a constant message about CFC’s.   It turns out that seemingly innocent ‘chlorofluorocarbons’ were the culprit for earth’s new sun roof.  This non-toxic, non-flammable mixture was regularly used in aerosols, foam, solvents and in fridges, but what we didn’t know was that when it enters the atmosphere UV rays break its bonds leaving Chlorine free to steal oxygen – from the ozone.

Do you know what we did about it?

The world rallied together – a convention was held in Vienna and 193 nation states agreed to the phasing out of CFCs. 2 years later they were banned and 30 years on and the ozone layer is recovering – this just shows what we CAN do, if we want to.

I’ve mentioned before that Blue Planet II was the turning point for me.  I think it was for a lot of people.  You spend best part of an hour marvelling at the magnificence of our natural world and then BAM! David says “We’ve ruined it all”

If you need further convincing, the film ‘A Plastic Ocean’ is a pretty horrowing account of the devastation humans have caused. The trailer is only 2 minutes long and is also worth a watch.

You may point a finger to expanding Asian countries that are know to be dumping waste in the sea, and yes, they are culpable.  But none of us are blameless. We have become a consumer nation with an unquenchable thirst for plastic. It makes life easier, cheaper, brighter, more hygenic, but it has also made us wasteful, so very, very wasteful.

The question I want to know is, when does it stop?  When is the ‘plastic convention’ in Vienna going to happen, when will 193 nations decide that something needs to be done? Sadly, this doesn’t look like it is on the cards.

Hugh Fernley Whittingstall wrote recently about how the UK Government have ‘declared war on plastic’ which sounds great until you realise the target for reducing all unecessary plastic is 2043. Seriously, who gives themselves 25 years to complete something?  If we had taken 25 years to ban CFC’s, we would all be toast by now.  The current government is also not preparing to back this up with any legislation, which makes it all rather a pretty poor show.

Is there any hope?

Hugh also comments that it is the consumer that is making the most immediate impact, it is us asking the awkward questions, like “Why the hell is there plastic in my tea bags?” and “Which idiot decided to individually wrap lemons?”.  We are making the supermarkets and producers nervous. We are at a tipping point, but without momentum we run the risk of it all blowing over.

This is why I started the journey, this is why I am writing a challenge for the Girlguiding. We have to educate the next generation to do better than we did. In 30 years I want my daughter to remember how we all pulled together in 2018 and made a difference to the world.

“No one can do everything, but everyone can do something”

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