By Simon Usher, CEO of Plastic Oceans Foundation (UK)

Have you ever considered how plastic ends up reaching the oceans?  More to the point, are you – or should you be – part of the solution?  If so, we should probably talk…

When did you first get global warming?  For me it was about fifteen years ago that the scale of the carbon challenge first hit home.  I remember those early days of my ‘carbon awakening’ seeing carbon emissions from all parts of my life.  I called it ‘wearing my new carbon goggles’.  It was, and still largely is, really quite depressing.

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to travel much of the world in the slow lane, on a tandem mountain bike.  It was an amazing opportunity with so many positive experiences.  The biggest negative though was when I found my new ‘plastic waste goggles’.  The difference this time is I feel far less depressed: The more we as a team at Plastic Oceans talk about our mission to end plastic reaching the ocean – and think through what it would take to have meaningful impact, the more optimistic I become. There is no part of our mission that isn’t realistically achievable – within a meaningfully short timescale.

What’s frustrating me this time round is that we’re collectively not choosing the right battles to fight. Yes, attitudes to single use plastics need to change – and we need to learn to have a responsible relationship with plastic.  That must be the end game.  But we also need to change our behaviours and that means that both culture and our ‘enabling environments’ need to change.  Businesses can do their bit.  Policy makers need to support change. But most importantly, communities and public attitudes need to change from one that enables bad habits to one where plastic is respected and valued.

What are we doing?

In autumn this year we launch a series of challenges targeting young people; with the aim of creating meaningful change within their schools and their communities. These are equally applicable in the work environment, but our initial focus will be the younger generation that have the imagination and will power to change their communities.

Do you want to be a part of it? Ahead of our launch in October, we are looking for partners interested in ensuring the success of these challenges.

Are you coming to the RWM conference?

If you are coming to the Resource and Waste Management conference in Birmingham next week then please visit our stand. We will be joined by 22,000 professionals from over 100 countries at the NEC Birmingham. You have until the end of this week to register for free tickets, and you can visit their website here to avoid disappointment.

If not, but you’re interested in exploring opportunities further then please drop us a line at: