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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.






Start a #Sustainability #Movement in Your #Organization: Part 1 – Steps to Follow : Wendy Firlotte @EngageIntl

​When I talk to organizations of all sizes and functions, their biggest pain point is essentially the same, lack of participation.  Consistently, the two biggest challenges I hear are obstacles to increasing stakeholder buy-in and deal with competing priorities in the workplace.

In corporate responsibility & sustainability, we talk about being purpose driven and embedding sustainability within the organization, but what does that mean exactly? Essentially, we are looking for ways to mobilize employees and resources toward a shared sustainability purpose. In other words, what we want to know is how do we start a sustainability movement? This is the first installment of a 6 part series where we will discuss what starting a sustainability movement means, what it takes and the key elements for success.

Before getting into how to start a sustainability movement within your organization, let’s watch a TED talk by Derek Sivers (3 mins) and break down the basic steps and key insights of starting a movement in general.

Observed steps and key insights from the video:

  1.    Leaders need to create actions that are easy to follow and show the first follower how to follow. The first followers will then show everyone else how to follow.
  2.    Leaders embrace followers as equals, so it’s about the movement, not about the leader.
  3.    The first follower is an underestimated form of leadership. It takes courage to stand out and do something new and different.
  4.    Actions must be public. It’s important to not only show the actions of the leader, but also the followers. New followers will emulate other followers, not the leader.
  5.    After the first few join, others will join because it’s less risky. Then you hit the tipping point.
  6.    Afterward, those who were sitting on the fence before, have no reason now not to join. They won’t stand out, they won’t be ridiculed, but they will be part of the in-crowd if they hurry.
  7.    Then you have a movement.

I love that these insights are clear and simple, but I also wanted to add some key ideas that relate these steps to engaging employees in internal sustainability programs; many of these will be discussed in greater detail later in the series.

Create relevance for the program beyond company purpose. If a mission isn’t relevant to employees on a personal level, outside of work, it’s not likely to resonate with them at work either. How does your company’s sustainability agenda align with a greater purpose, allowing employees to contribute to the global good? Are you relating similar actions in their daily lives at home?

The UN Sustainable Development goals are a great way to create greater overall relevance. It provides a collective (global) way forward to address the world’s most pressing issues, but allows companies to choose the goals that align with their purpose and materiality priorities. With this greater vision and purpose, employees can participate make the broader connections with the meaning behind their brand experiences.

Meeting people where they are. A key element to increasing participation is by creating programming to engage employees that reflect their varying levels of understanding and willingness to participate. Do you have activities planned to accommodate these levels of employee involvement to meet them at their highest level of engagement and potential impact?

Law of diffusion of innovation principle. According to research, the required percentage of uptake in order to achieve the tipping point when adopting new innovations is only 16 %. (That lovely number makes the task seem more manageable, right?) Here is a great talk by Simon Sinek, where he discusses the law of diffusion in more detail.

Share employee experiences. Create fun, engaging, and relatable experiences for participating employees to share and inspire others to get involved. You could highlight and share articles, videos, blogs, pictures, posts, tweets, etc. Harness the powerful resource of employee influence and amplification in networks, on social media and word of mouth.

Cultivate followers and equip them to be advocates. Advocates and enthusiasts can be your strongest resource. We are very much social beings and are strongly influenced by our peers. Often sustainability practitioners feel overwhelmed when implementing programming as they say, “it’s just me!” I say look for ways to mobilize your employees and make them all owners and leaders. Create a clear process to show your followers how to follow, so they can then easily communicate the process to other potential followers.

Focus on key messaging and ongoing dialogue.  Be consistent in your messaging, frequency and contact channels with your communications and engagement. Focus on regular messaging communications, activities and feedback. If we want activities to be embedded into our organizational ethos, it needs to be part of an ongoing conversation, not only a few times per year when specific activities are launched.

Want to learn more? Watch for the next installment of her 6-part “Start a sustainability movement “ series. Part 2 will focus on building stakeholder buy-in at every level of the organization.




Start a Sustainability Movement Series:

  • Part 1: Steps to follow
  • Part 2: Building buy-in at every level
  • Part 3: How to scale
  • Part 4: How to systemize
  • Part 5: All in for sustainability
  • Part 6: Fostering culture & embedding sustainability

Leave a Comment! We would love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment or question below. Also feel free to post any burning issues that you would like to see covered in this series.

You can find Wendy on Twitter:@EngageIntl or LinkedIn: Wendy Firlotte

Wendy is a Sustainability Employee Engagement Specialist. She specializes in translating high-level strategy and vision into purpose driven, embedded and aligned employee action. She’s a great asset to our guest blog here on CrowdLeaf.




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.