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Category ArchiveSouthampton Climate Conversations

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.

Announcement of a regular Green Show on @VoiceFMradio by @rwscarter

Some of you have already listened to @rwscarter on VoiceFm recently, some of you are so dedicated that you have heard both of his appearance so far. Credit where it is due, that cannot have been as easy as listening to Adam from Green Hampshire or Denise from ‘Eco Hair and Beauty‘. Both the earlier show and the now regular slot. On that occasion (my first VoiceFm appearance) I was with the wonderful Denise Baden from Southampton University who was discussing the great initiative ‘Eco Hair and Beauty’ which have written for us here at @CrowdLeaf before. She also discussed the sustainability agenda in Cuba- which she tied in rather nicely with her musical ‘Fidel’. More of that can be found here along with a link to that guest appearance below.




Like wise the new green show on VoiceFM – hosted by Xan Philips and the green agenda taken forward by @rwscarter on Xan’s ‘The Business show’ every first Thursday of the month from 8pm- 9pm.

The December the 1st episode can be found above – With the inside scoop on all things Christmas ,Autumn Statement, local green campaigns, national crowdfunding news and the green agenda and insights, from £5 notes to electric vans.

As @rwscarter is now a regular guest- the first in the sequence of Green issues radio appearances os merely the start, we want your green news, campaigns and insights to share live on air. At the moment this scheduled be broadcast every first Thursday of each month from 8 PM however we are both human and sometime this may change, so keep an eye on our twitter and on here. You can tune in on 103.9FM or find us online at : http://www.voicefmradio.co.uk   . If you happen to miss the show but still want to listen, perhaps you want to take us for a train journey, or on a long walk  – there is both a listen live and as you’ve  probably noticed from the links above a ‘listen again’ option.  Thanks as always for being here with us – keep your green news, campaigns, opportunities and more coming our way. Equally there is room for suggested sustainability/green/conservation songs – please do share your suggestions.




Who are Southampton Climate Conversations ( @cchangesoton ), What do they do & how to get involved.

Climate Conversations is a Southampton-based network of people who want to talk about global and local environmental change and respond through positive action. We urgently need a step change in the discourse around climate change and believe that such a change must be generated by community action. Our aim is to encourage conversations about sustainability across our community – from residents and community organisations to the council, businesses and universities.

Our current members include local representatives from Transition, Dangerous Ideas, the Southampton Climate Campaign, Clean Air Southampton and academics at the University of Southampton. We first came together as a group in November 2015 as part of a local response to COP21, the UN conference on climate change.

Our inaugural event took place on 27th November and focused on what we can do locally to tackle climate change. Community groups hosted stalls and gave 30 second pitches about their work. Paul Maple’s short documentary The Environmental Litmus Test was shown, Grant Sharkey provided music and Sarah Filmer sketched out the evening with graphic recording.





Climate-change-poster-cropped

The keynote speaker was Alan Whitehead MP (Southampton Test) who spoke about the importance of local action on sustainability:

 

“It is down to us to make that important contribution… If the [rest of the world] knows that we in Southampton are determined, then this will help spur them on.”

 

This was followed by an audience and panel discussion that explored what Southampton residents can do to tackle climate change.

 

Audience - by : Joe Hudson

Audience – by : Joe Hudson

More recently we hosted a screening of the Naomi Klein documentary This Changes Everything. This was a chance to carry on the conversation about making Southampton a more sustainable city, and some great comments were made during the post-film discussion. One key idea is that we need to be engaging with people outside of the green movement, perhaps by re-framing the climate change debate. For example, air quality and fuel poverty are serious issues for our city, especially for areas with high social and economic deprivation.  

We are keen to raise awareness of a range of local green issues, both through running events and also via the Climate Conversations website. We publish blog posts from a wide range of local community organisations and individuals on different themes relating to sustainability, such as air quality, urban food projects and local action on climate change. We were the first to report on fossil fuel divestment by the University of Southampton and have published important revisions of the number of premature deaths from air pollution in the city.

As well as informing and connecting people we’d like to provide the inspiration to make positive lifestyle changes. Our next project may be to collaborate with the cultural side of the city to create works of art or music relating to sustainability. We would love to work with local artists and musicians on interpreting local environmental issues.

In the meantime, please do join the conversation online. You can sign up to our mailing list, comment on our blog posts and connect with us through Facebook and Twitter. Do you have questions that we can put to local Councillors on sustainability? Do you have ideas for greening your neighborhood? Are you running a local event that we can promote? If we can all share our creative solutions for a sustainable, livable and healthy Southampton, we can make it happen.