The Marine Conservation Society Talks to Sustain About How We Can Keep Our Oceans Clean From The Safety Of Our Couches During Lock-Down

"We are, unfortunately, now seeing pictures of latex gloves and face masks littering our streets. These will take decades to break down and could harm wildlife, they also pose a potential risk to front-line waste collectors who are likely to be picking them up. It’s important that all items, but especially PPE, is disposed of properly and safely." 

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Hi tell us about yourself, your organisation and where you are based!

 

I’m Victoria, Media Relations Manager for the Marine Conservation Society, based in London. Our other office is in Herefordshire, where the charity started.

 

What are the Marine Conservation Society’s main areas of concern in 2020 and how are you taking action to combat it?

 

We’re talking a lot about the ocean’s role in the climate emergency and how so many of the ecosystems underwater can help fight rising temperatures.

 

We’re on a mission to ‘Save Our Seagrass’ as it’s proven to be as effective at absorbing carbon as trees. Expect to see a lot more on that later this year.

 

We’re also launching a petition for the public’s support to ‘Stop Ocean Threads’, hoping to introduce a policy which will help us reduce the volume of plastic microfibers entering the ocean every year. There’s lots more besides that, including the Plastic Challenge in July, and a new initiative to replace the Great British Beach Clean in September, as lock-down has caused us to rethink the beach cleaning events.

From the information you currently have, how has the lock-down impacted the pollution in our oceans?

 

It’s hard to see the impacts lock-down could be having in regards to pollution in our ocean. As there aren’t any social gatherings, we would expect that this would cause less litter entering our oceans. However, we often see old litter that has been in our oceans for months or even years, wash upon our shores on every tide, so it might be that more of this type of litter could be found on our beaches.

 

We are, unfortunately, now seeing pictures of latex gloves and face masks littering our streets. These will take decades to break down and could harm wildlife, they also pose a potential risk to frontline waste collectors who are likely to be picking them up. It’s important that all items, but especially PPE, is disposed of properly and safely. 

 

Can you name any brands/organisations that you are working alongside that our readers should check out?

 

There are always lots of fantastic brands and organisations that you can check out. For more on ocean pollution related work then you can check out 2 Minute Beach Clean, FIDRA and the Tidy groups across the UK, Keep Britain TidyKeep Wales Tidy, Keep Scotland Beautiful and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. 

What can people change about their buying habits that can have a positive effect on our oceans?

 

There’s lots people can do in their day-to-day lives to make a difference. Reduce, where possible, the amount of single-use plastic you use; switch to reusable products like water bottles and coffee cups. Buying loose veg where you can is another great way to cut out needless plastic. 

 

The Plastic Challenge is coming up in July and is a great way to challenge yourself with cutting back or cutting out plastic from your everyday life. This year we’re asking people to set their own #PlasticChallenge and share their progress with us throughout July.

Do you have any tips to stay sustainable in lock-down?

It's good to remember that no matter where you live, you can still have an impact, positive or negative, on our ocean. Sewage related debris makes up 6% of all litter found on our beaches; that's cotton bud sticks, wet wipes and feminine products. So it's important to remember to only flush pee, poo and toilet paper down the loo, everything else goes in the bin. 

 

Our #OceanIndoors project aimed to bring the well-being benefits of the ocean to people’s homes, no matter where they live around the UK. Part of the project also includes ways in which you can stay sustainable, and help the ocean, from the safety of your sofa!

 

How can people get involved with your cause?

 

Whilst a lot of people are at home at the moment, the best way to help is by supporting our campaigns, to find out more about what we are up to at the moment you can check out our current campaigns here https://www.mcsuk.org/campaigns/

 

What’s next for the Marine Conservation Society and where can our readers find you online?

 

We’ve got lots of campaigns coming up and ways for people to get involved from the safety of their homes. Our Ocean Indoors pages are a great place to look for inspiration on how to support the ocean, stay engaged with ocean education and much more. We’ll be launching our ‘Stop Ocean Threads’ campaign which aims to bring an end to the millions of plastic microfibres which end up in our ocean every year. We’re also working to ‘Save Our Seagrass’ alongside the Plastic Challenge which kicks off in July. You can find us across social media, on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Illustrations by Estée Angeline