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Category Archivegreen hampshire

The Wave of Plastic Pollution is a problem – @AdamManning of @GreenHampshire & @rwscarter of @CrowdLeaf

Plastic in our natural environment has become an urgent issue that our society needs to address and Ryan recently focused on this in his once a month CrowdLeaf radio slot with Xan Phillips on VoiceFM 103.9. (This is on from 8pm on the first Thursday of the month.) Plastic in the form of nurdles and plastic products are a serious problem for marine life, beach life and for the food system.
Many people who believe they are being as good to the environment as they can be do not knowingly pollute the seas with plastic or other products. However, plastic fibres from polyester and acrylic clothing are polluting the seas on an industrial scale. One 6kg wash produces 140,000 fibres from polyester-cotton blend, half a million polyester fibres and nearly 3/4 of a million acrylic fibres.
If each and every house is doing this just once a week that is an awfully large quantity and the rate at which people throw away clothes is pandemic. It is worse to throw these away than it is to wash them and the onus should be on the producers of such items to change the material to stop the pollution at source.
There are alternatives that companies can and should be looking at such as natural products, lyocell made from trees, leather made from Pineapple and more… and we as consumers need to demand these.

One important way forward is to take advantage of producers who are using alternative products to traditional plastics.
These scary numbers are just the beginning. Micro fibres from soaps, body wash and cosmetic products are also washing down our drains into the seas. Recently a plastic soup of millions of pieces of plastic was discovered in our oceans. Earlier this year, 38 million pieces of plastic were found on Henderson Island. What is this doing to our natural habitats? Our animal welfare laws wouldn’t allow this for pets but for wildlife, sadly we have different standards.

The problem of plastic pollution often becomes clear during the course of a litter pick. Litter picking as a form of environmental activism has grown markedly in popularity in recent years. Individuals are taking the initiative to clear up rubbish, as are groups of many different sizes. This includes volunteer groups who look after particular areas, such as Friends of Weston Shore, larger and more established organisations such as the Keep Britain Tidy or the Marine Conservation Society and now new, online initiatives, such as #2minutebeachclean and Litterati.

Keen litter pickers will spend a lot of time picking up plastic items in an event of this sort. Their work is vital in clearing up our natural environment as plastic will, if not removed, last effectively forever.
At a larger scale than plastic fibres, this includes plastic bottles, for water or soft drinks. As well as spoiling the natural beauty of an area, they can be a danger to wildlife. Mice and shrews can climb into them, perhaps spotting a mouthful of water to drink inside, and then be unable to climb up out again, leaving them trapped. Other animals, similarly looking for a drink, can trap their snouts or beaks in a plastic bottle, making them unable to shake them off.

Plastic ring binders are another serious problem. These are the loops of plastic that are typically used to keep groups of four or six beer cans together. They can snare both land living animals like foxes, birds and even snakes but also, if they are caught by the tide, turtles, dolphins and other sea life. There is a famous case of a young turtle entwined in a twisted six pack ring whose body deformed as it grew, until its body ultimately became a figure of eight, the ring still stuck around its unnaturally narrow waist. If they are not removed from the environment, they pose a danger to wildlife.

Cotton buds are another persistent problem. These small lengths of plastic tubing are all over our beaches, washed up by the tide. People use cotton buds to clean their ears and noses or for arts and crafts, household cleaning and other uses round the house. It seems that after they have been used, some people throw them down the toilet to dispose of them. The cotton buds then go through our sewage system, which is not designed for such products. Later, they are flushed out to sea only to ultimately end up washed up on our shores, without the fluffy cotton bits at either end, which will have disintegrated in the sewage system. Surveys by the Marine Conservation Society indicate that 60% of sewage related beach litter is from cotton buds. Just don’t throw them down the toilet!

Nurdles are another form of plastic pollution, especially on our beaches. These are tiny beads of plastic, about the size of lentils, used in the creation of plastic products. They end up in our natural areas, including our shores, from spills or accidents while they are being shipped from place to place in the production process. Nurdles, like the plastic fibres we are learning about, represent a serious pollution problem, both in the water and on land. They attract and concentrate other pollutants to them. Like all plastic, they can fragment and breakdown into smaller pieces, becoming harder to handle and remove. Animals of all sorts can mistake nurdles for food like fish eggs or seeds, especially in the water, and this can make them sick or kill them.

Part of the problem with nurdles in our natural environment is that their small size makes them difficult to remove. An average litter picker will be unable to pick them up. Chesil Bay in Southampton, a beautiful part of the shore in the city, has a particular nurdle pollution problem. In some patches this is so bad, there seems to be more nurdles than soil.

Nurdles and other plastic debris often ends up in being deposited in natural areas because human created parts of the environment, such as sea walls, docks or piers are hard surfaces. When the plastic debris comes into contact with these, the nurdles, cotton buds and so forth, are deflected away. As a result, when they come to rest in a natural area, this will be where they stay. So, nurdles and other plastic debris tend to build up on a natural area of shoreline.

There is an urgent need to take action at each stage of the plastic production process so that our natural environment is not ruined in the way that has been building up for years.






Who & What is Green Drinks ( Southampton )

By Ryan Carter of CrowdLeaf and Adam Manning of Green Hampshire



Green Drinks describe themselves as an ‘organic and self-organising’. Starting in London in 1989, the idea has spread throughout the world. The local group in Southampton from which we both draw our experiences is a great group. They meet regularly every third Thursday of the month, often at the Art House Café, Above Bar Street.

There is stimulating and informative conversation and it gives you a chance to say what you do in your day job and to talk to professionals and interested individuals. There is room for anybody and you can join in the discussion with individuals who work for academia, government, business, environmental organisations and those who run their own businesses too. A particular focus of Green Drinks is sustainability and a number of people who attend work in this area to discuss this field and learn from one another.

We’ve been to more than five of these now and have met some really inspiring and active people who attend Green Drinks as regulars and one offs. Friendships have been formed, business links made and information shared. There have been presentations covering waste to energy projects, hybrid electric boats and more. The meetings are informal and relaxed. There is certainly none of the cliquishness that is sometimes associated with networking groups and for all these reasons we will keep attending when we can.





There is a wide variety of organisations present at these networking sessions, both to present, showcase, engage and for the good atmosphere present at each event. Everybody is welcoming, engaging and interested in what you do and what your thoughts are, whatever your background. Whether you work in the area, want to work in the area or are just interested, you will find something to talk about.

The Southampton Green Drink’s group have a Facebook page at : https://www.facebook.com/SouthamptonGreenDrinks

You can obtain more information on these events on both of our pages, Green Hampshire and CrowdLeaf or by emailing us on adam@greenhampshire.co.uk and Ryan@CrowdLeaf.org.uk.

‘Who are @Greenhampshire & Where did they come from?’

Volunteers can really make things happen.  Volunteers can change lives and can change landscapes. Volunteering is giving yourself the opportunity to achieve something with your life that is not wrapped up in the world of work, the world of money and the world of worry.  Giving yourself the chance to stop the unceasing run of days that amounted to little more than existing and taking a chance on your own passion and action; this is part of the empowerment that volunteering can bring.

Adam

Adam

It’s also a lot of fun! Dressing up as a panda was a highlight for me in the nineties when volunteering for the WWF, especially when Zoë Ball appeared at one of our events.  Around that time, some friends and I started regularly carrying litter picks on beautiful Weston Shore in Southampton and in the years to come this became an annual event. A local community group called the Friends of Weston Shore formed from this, with the support of Southampton City Council, and this has always been a great source of personal satisfaction to me. To help clean up a beach and restore it to a pristine natural beauty is a wonderful way to spend your time.

Up the road and round the corner from the Friends of Weston Shore is another group called Sholing Valley Study Centre. They are very active volunteers looking after, in particular, the Miller’s Pond Local Nature Reserve.  Sholing Valleys has been a great source of inspiration as it was becoming clear to me that volunteers have a chance to make a significant change to the world around them.  I had got so much enjoyment and satisfaction from being involved in this way and other people seemed to have a similar experience. Maybe there was a way to help other potential volunteers participate, I wondered.

One of the key factors was providing information about what is going on in a way that is accessible and up to date.  To increase the chances of a volunteer going along to an event, it seemed the best way was to have a list of possible events in the hope that one or more of them would be just right for that potential volunteer. People are more likely to go along to an event that is convenient, in terms of both time and place, and seems interesting and engaging to them.  So, if you give people as much choice as possible, this increases the chance of actual participation.

With this idea, I reached out to people on twitter in early 2011 and soon we had a chat at a café and talked it over.  A wonderful social media expert called Nicky Hirst (@Nickyhants) put me in touch with a very energetic young man called Max K. Thompson (@MaxKThompson).  Max seemed to really like the idea and soon, with his help, a website, Facebook page and twitter were up and running.  With my timid vision, I had only envisaged the project as including events in and around Southampton whereas Max was rather more ambitious and suggested we cover all of Hampshire.  The project was given a name as well; Green Hampshire. And then we were go for launch!

Adam and Max

Soon it became apparent that we had a success on our hands as so many people became interested and wanted to share details of the events we listed on Green Hampshire.  Perhaps in part thanks to its origins, twitter has always been a natural home for Green Hampshire and lots of people kindly retweeted our information to spread the word even further.  

The influence it could have came as a shock. I’ll never forget the first time I was at event when another volunteer told me they had turned up thanks to reading about it through Green Hampshire. “Have you heard of it?” they would ask.  

Green Hampshire has gone beyond even that original brief. Community groups have told us that new events have been created thanks to volunteers learning about projects that are going on in our area and wanting to initiate their own event.  This has come as a wonderful surprise and shows one way that Green Hampshire can move forward.

We are always looking for new environmental events to list on Green Hampshire so please do get in touch at events@greenhampshire.co.uk if you know of any. You can also find us on Facebook or tweet us at @GreenHampshire.  Our website at www.greenhampshire.co.uk has details about events in Hampshire that you can join in with.

We’re particularly delighted to support CrowdLeaf as a new project encouraging green innovation. This seems such a cleverly pragmatic way to support real change and this is something we are seeing more of all the time.  We’re looking forward to seeing this exciting idea grow through its implementation and will be there to help.

If you haven’t already, please do get involved with volunteering as it’s a very rewarding experience. Not only will you be doing something positive for the community and your local area, it can also be lots of fun.