Originally posted on Plastic Oceans UK website on Dec 14, 2020.

Pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen across the globe as countries try to contain the spread of the pandemic. But it’s uncertain on how long the ‘dip’ in emissions will be.

2020 has been an unprecedented year for us all. But it has sparked many conversations around the importance of switching from carbon and oil to cleaner energy which may have not been so widely explored by mass media, as much as they are now.

Plastic has only been around for the past 150 years, so we don’t know how long it will take to break down, but we do know that it will never ‘go away’, it will just become microplastics. We are at a pivotal point in history to stop its overuse and the damage it is causing, before it’s too late.

The idea that we could be using Shakespeare’s discarded plastic bag makes the message hit home. We need a better solution to the problem we are creating.

Reason behind the campaign

Mark Hunter, part-time environmental activist and full-time Executive Creative Director at London advertising agency The Community, came up with the idea behind the “Make Plastic History” campaign earlier this year after becoming aware the pandemic was distracting public attention from many of the other issues facing our planet, including plastic pollution. His idea was to use famous ‘celebrities’ from centuries past as a way of illustrating just how long disposable plastics can stay in the environment after being discarded.

With the help of media agency Spark Foundry and outdoor media owners, the campaign will reach a national audience via billboards and posters currently running in major cities in the UK including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Mark said “We are so proud to partner with Plastic Oceans to raise awareness of such an important environmental issue.  Hopefully this campaign really will help to make plastic history!”

A Reduction in Carbon Emissions

The first thing to consider is to have a look at the different reasons as to why the emissions have dropped. For example, transport makes up 23% of global carbon emissions1. With most people working from home and avoiding public transport, these figures have dropped. However, when the pandemic eventually subsides, will carbon and pollutant emissions “bounce back”? The Earth can’t carry on as it was before, these changes need to be upheld in order for us to carry on says Kimberly Nicholas, a sustainability science researcher at Lund University in Sweden, in an interview to the BBC.

The Year of Online Shopping

The other phenomena of 2020 has been, online shopping. It has taken the world by storm, as social distancing has forced consumers to shop differently — reprioritizing what is  essential and swapping the checkout line for online shopping

g more than ever before. However, with the increase of online shopping, we have also seen an increase of our plastic intake2.

Plastic is a huge feature during the Festive period, from packaging, to glitter, and even the tinsel on the tree, which all inevitably ends up in the oceans. Between four and 12 million tonnes of plastic waste makes its way into oceans every year, mainly through rivers3. That plastic then breaks down into smaller, toxic pieces, which can be ingested by sea creatures, harming and potentially killing them, if it fills their stomachs. Not to mention the percentage of that which inevitably ends up in the human food chain too.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. We have never been so connected on a global scale, and  the awareness around the plastic crisis can be seen across all social platforms. But it’s now time to take action…

Join the Ocean Generation

The Ocean Generation is coming together to restore a healthy relationship between humanity and the Ocean. Because as the first generation to understand ocean issues, we are also the last generation who can stop them. We are all the Ocean Generation. Join the movement. 

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