Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! have joined with other zoos across the UK to remove all single-use plastic drink bottles from their shelves, as part of a campaign to help protect the world’s oceans from the devastating impact of plastic pollution. Going a step further, both zoos are also removing all plastic straws, drinking cups and other single-use plastic items from their food outlets.
With estimates suggesting that by 2025 there will be a tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish in our oceans, something has to change and it has to be now to help minimise the impact of this on the planet.
Martin Dupée, Director of Operations, said “By removing single-use plastic bottles from our shelves, we’re not only reducing our own impact on the oceans, but opening the eyes of manufacturers to the problem and showing them how easy it can be to adopt more sustainable alternatives. It’s in our hands to force the change, and we can all do the same in our homes, as well.”
Walk along any beach, no matter how remote, and you will be reminded of the impact of our throw-away culture as each tide delivers a fresh batch of plastic to litter our beautiful shorelines. Whilst many plastic bottles are referred to as being recycled or recyclable, the true fact of the matter is that most are not. In 2016, plastic bottles were sold at a phenomenal rate of 15,179 per second around the world. Amazingly, fewer than half of these were collected for recycling, and from that only 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. This is mostly due to the fact that the efforts to collect and recycle them are failing to keep up with the rate of sales and production.
The zoos are encouraging support by asking their guests to make some very simple steps to help make a difference.
Start shopping consciously. Be aware of the kind of world you are voting for every time you make a purchase. When you buy an item, you create a demand for it, which will be met by the manufacturer producing more of them. Do you need the bag? Does it need to be in a plastic bottle or wrapper, or is there an alternative available?
Check the ingredients. More and more is being learned about the impact of small plastics known as microbeads. These are often found in beauty and bathing products, and in general cleaning products. Advertised to soften, exfoliate, scrub and smooth, these tiny particles are unable to be filtered out of our waters, and are being ingested by small animals. These animals are fed on by larger animals, eventually killing them due to the build-up of plastic unable to be digested in their stomachs. This can be avoided by choosing products that do not contain these harmful items.
Dispose of waste responsibly. Check if the item is recyclable, and make sure it goes into the correct bin if it is. Masses of waste does not even make it into a bin in the UK, with litter thrown from cars, or dropped carelessly. This waste then “leaks” into waterways, eventually ending up in our oceans.
Banham Zoo and Africa Alive have, over the last 4 years, been making their way to the removal of their 100% degradable carrier bags in the gift shops moving instead towards a paper alternative. This has taken much longer than anticipated as a result of the downturn in appetite for carrier bags.