What do the Queen, Scotland, and the supermarket Iceland have in common? Plastic waste. I know, it seems like an odd one.
But Queen Elizabeth is behind plans to ban plastic straws and reduce plastic waste at Buckingham Palace, Scotland is planning to ban the manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds, and Iceland has announced plans to eliminate or drastically reduce the plastic packaging of all its own-label products by 2023.
Plastic pollution seems to have captured all our imaginations, and it’s leading to real action in such a wide range of places. This got me thinking - why?
Of all the worthwhile causes and harsh statistics we hear, plastic pollution has seen probably the most rapid ascent to 'hot topic' I can remember. It’s bordering on a social and corporate movement.
I think Blue Planet 2 was the singularity that started it all. What an impressive and engaging programme that was. Visually stunning, captivatingly informative, and a national treasure at the helm. But perhaps its most impressive feat was stimulating such broad attention on plastic pollution.
Since then we've seen wide coverage of the issue in the press, on TV, and on the high street, and its leading to real action. I think what’s made it an attention grabber is that it’s relatable, we all use plastic every day, and the consequences of us doing so and throwing it away are obviously causal and immediately visible.
We can see the plastic islands in the ocean, and the sea-life suffering at the hands of an item we recognise, and probably used that day. At least that week. A cotton bud, plastic lid, or drinks bottle.
We can see the unjustness and jarring consequences of our impacts, and see how we can, and should, do something about it. The issue, and understanding of the need for action, has been 'mainstreamed'.
Other causes are less communicable like this, waste often gets more attention than energy or carbon emissions for example. But I think the key to action lies in finding ways around this. What other issues would get momentum for action if mainstreamed in an engaging and relatable way?
What about making James Bonds next car an electric one, why not have somebody on EastEnders running a Solar PV business instead of a cafe or car dealership, Attenborough documentary about peak-oil anyone?
There are a wealth of opportunities to change the way we communicate, lets get mainstreaming...ideas on a postcard.
This blog is intended to share opinion for informational purposes only, not to provide advice or represent any organisation. Facts and figures are accurate to the best of my knowledge but should not be relied upon.