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'The Problem with Plastic and What To Do About It'

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

This morning I opened my daily planner to see the following quote by social activist Alice Walker 'The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any'. See, I have this planner, which gives me food for thought every day by quoting inspirational people. Some quotes strike a chord more than others and this one really stood out for me.

Last night I attended ‘The Problem with Plastic – and What to Do About It?’ presented by the New Theatre Royal, Company of Makers, the Makers Guild, and Hack Pompey. The event consisted of a 2-hour fringe event, which included stalls of various kinds – from information-based ones to stalls showcasing innovative products and plastic free initiatives. I had the opportunity to buy recyclable masking tape from local business Refill and Replenish, which I cannot wait to use next time I do pattern cutting and design development! I also met Bristol based designer Bond Morgan, who is soon to launch an exciting new sustainable fashion product under her own brand name. And talking of fashion – I caught up with Clare from The Repair Café Portsmouth. Claire was promoting the initiative’s next event, which is this Saturday – 15 February 2020. This month’s Repair Café is a special event – being part of The Big Fix 2020, which will see 70 repair cafes across the country open doors at the same time. So – if you have any items – including clothing, electricals, mechanical pieces and even bikes that could do with a quick repair – head to Repair Café Portsmouth tomorrow morning and get some help over some tea and cake!

Taking place on stage - the main event of the evening was varied and thought provoking. Speakers included British journalist, environmentalist and writer Lucy Siegle. As the author of ‘ To Die For – Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?’, ‘We Are What We Wear’ and ‘Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again’ – she is someone I've been really looking forward to seeing. Ms Siegle covered many interesting things during her presentation but I think that her most powerful message was that we are all individuals of power. We – as consumers – have the power to demand change from businesses to adopt better practices.

The second speaker - Jessica Hickie from the Environment Agency left with the powerful thought – ‘ "It’s only one piece of plastic" – Said 7.8 billion people'.

Her presentation was followed by researcher David Jones, who is the founder of Just One Ocean. The organisation’s mission is ‘to raise a global awareness of the issues facing our marine and coastal environments in order to protect and conserve them for future generations’. Mr Jones made a very strong point – responsibility lies with us all.

After a short break we saw a presentation by environmentalist Natalie Fee. Natalie Fee is an award-winning environmental campaigner, author, speaker, and founder of City to Sea. What I felt was the most visually and emotionally impactful piece of the evening was this trailer she shared of plastic pollution affecting wildlife in the North Pacific.

The final presentation of the evening came from sailor, speaker and founder of Wetwheels – Geoff Holt and Steve Bomford from the Portsmouth based Company of Makers. They drew attention to Portsmouth’s own coastline and the importance of community collaboration to fight plastic pollution. The evening saw the launch of the Jetsam app, which encourages residents to collect and send photos of plastic litter found along Portsmouth’s coastline to help create a 'plastics heat map'.

The Q&A that followed saw discussions regarding issues surrounding local recycling, the value of waste materials and the problem of microplastics shed by synthetic clothes during washing.

It is hard to touch upon everything that made this event so important. There was a lot of fascinating, interesting, concerning and inspiring information. Alongside learning about circular design initiatives in fashion context such as shoe soles made from used chewing gum, jewellery made from ocean ‘salvaged’ plastic and an array of women’s sustainable sanitary products I took away something of major importance.

As individuals we can all be part of the solution, as people we can contribute with creative ideas, as citizens we can all lead by example and demand changes from our government, as consumers we have the power to demand change and refuse to be ignored and as a community we can all work collaboratively towards a better future.

Don't give up your power!

And as always - keep sailing forward!


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