Despite an increased awareness of the damaging environmental impact of plastic, many of us still consume too much of the stuff – whether that's disposable coffee cups, plastic bags, bottled water, straws or the microbeads in our face wash (which have now thankfully been banned). Sadly, it's still all too easy to generate waste that ends up in an ocean.
In fact, over eight million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean globally every year, according to research, which is why one campaign has taken a rather creative step to drive awareness and inspire us to cut our plastic consumption.
A 10-metre whale made of plastic bags, bottles and other single-use plastics found in the ocean, on beach cleans and in local recycling plants, has been unveiled by Tower Bridge in London today as part of the Sky Ocean Rescue campaign.
The enormous marine mammal is covered with 250kg worth of plastic – the same amount that pollutes the ocean every second, which just goes to show the scale of the problem. The whale will be transported around the UK to beaches and seas, including Newquay, Cardiff, Birmingham and elsewhere.
There in London to reveal the whale were explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and model Jodie Kidd, both of whom have particular reasons for supporting the cause. Sir Ranulph said he'd "witnessed the reach of ocean pollution" during his travels to some of the most remote and vast points of the world.
"Between 1979 and 1982 my team completed the first surface circumpolar navigation of Earth and during both the Atlantic and the Pacific voyages we witnessed the amount of pollution, much of which was plastic and that was just on the surface," he said, adding that we must all "act now before the scale of this problem heightens further."
Meanwhile Kidd, who is a pub landlord (yep, news to us too), said one of the first steps she took was to scrap plastic straws in favour of paper ones. “There is nothing I enjoy more than being on or by the water – sailing, rowing, on holiday – and it terrifies me that our beautiful oceans are being destroyed. As a mother I want my son to grow up in a world where oceans are vast and beautiful, not damaged and under threat. It is vital that we all make changes, even in the smallest of ways, to help save our oceans."