Here’s some of the good stuff that happened for the sea in July 2017. Got to keep that balance.
Zimbabwe bans polystyrene
Zimbabwe is banning polystyrene for health and environmental reasons, and it’s going to help solve a whole lot of pollution problems. Kaylite, as polystyrene is known in Zimbabwe, is very common but not easily recyclable. As it’s made of expanded plastic particles, it breaks apart easily and is blown into waterways leading to the ocean. It can take hundreds of years to break down in the sea, never fully disappearing completely and causing huge marine pollution problems. This ban is being put in place by the Environmental Management Agency in Zimbabwe, making it illegal to manufacture or import kaylite for use or commercial distribution. There are concerns about what alternatives are available for the near future, but from an environmental point of view there’s no doubt that this is a fantastic move for ocean health.
Hobart cuts out convenience plastics
The city of Hobart, Tasmania, has pledged to phase out use of single-use plastic cutlery and containers by 2020. This is a huge move, as thousands of these items are given out every day in the city, but they’re only used for a few minutes before being thrown away. Customers frequently don’t recycle these items, or they are dropped littering the streets, so this convenience culture has become a huge waste problem. The plan is to replace the plastic with natural and biodegradable materials, such as bamboo and cornstarch, or less environmentally damaging materials like cardboard. By cutting out single-use plastic items in this way, the city of 220,000, plus its visitors, can make a huge step forward in reducing plastic waste, and can set a great example to other cities.
Shark fin soup falling out of favour
Sales of shark fin soup are falling in China, one of the top importers and users of shark fins. WildAid research shows that sales of shark fins have fallen between 50-70% on last year. There’s been a recent state drive to reduce consumption of this expensive, luxury product and WildAid have been campaigning strongly against the consumption of shark fins. There’s also a changing attitude amongst young people in China towards eating shark fin soup, with many turning it down for the sake of the sharks. Big name transport companies are also starting to refuse to carry shark fins. These falling sales show a positive change in attitude and consumer decisions in one of highest consuming countries of shark fins. On average 73 million sharks are killed for their fins each year, so this changing attitude can’t happen soon enough.
Tesco scrapping 5p bags
UK supermarket giant Tesco are scrapping their 5 pence bags, and just offering their 10p bags for life. They’re trialling this plan in stores in Aberdeen, Norwich and Dundee to see if it reduces plastic bag usage even more, then Tesco plans to roll the pilot out across the country. The initial signs from the trial are looking positive, and bag purchases have been falling. However, the Marine Conservation Society are slightly concerned that 10 pence might not be enough of a deterrent to stop people buying so many of the bags. It’s a positive move for ocean conservation as if all of Tesco’s 5p bags aren’t being manufactured and sold, they can’t end up in the sea.
UK strengthens microbeads ban
The UK government has strengthened its ban on microbeads in cosmetics, pledging to ban them from any ‘rinse-off’ personal care and cosmetics items – so anything that washes down the drain. This will mean that shower gels, exfoliating face washes and toothpastes that are manufactured from the 1st of January 2018 will not contain microplastics. Any existing products won’t be able to be sold from 30 June 2018, meaning no more tiny plastic particles washing straight from our houses to the sea from the middle of next year.
Cover photo by the amazing Tashiana Photography