Project Ocean – the marine conservation partnership between Selfridges and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – has today announced a new initiative to tackle the growing problem of plastic pollution in our oceans. The initiative: 'Be Part of the Sea Change – See through the Plastics Problem’, aims to raise awareness and change consumer behaviour, encouraging people to pledge to stop buying single use plastics. Leading the way, Selfridges has stopped the sale of all single-use plastic water bottles in their stores, and instead will be encouraging customers to refill reusable bottles at their in-store drinking fountains.
Predictions are that if nothing changes, by 2025 there will be about one kilogram of plastic for every three kilograms of fish in the ocean. A 2013 study of fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) in the North Sea found plastic in the stomachs of 95% of the birds sampled. The UK uses around 15 million plastic bottles per day, which are a major component of marine litter. Plastic bottles take 450 – 1,000 years to break down, depending on their size, and the lifespan of the resulting microplastics is even longer.
Heather Koldewey, Head of Global Conservation Programmes at ZSL, said:
"Plastic has become a globally important material we depend on. However, in just a few decades, we have developed a disposable society where plastic is often used for just seconds or minutes before being thrown away.
"Unfortunately, only 24% of the 5 million tonnes of plastic used in the UK each year is reused or recycled and according to a recent study 13 million tons of plastic waste enters our ocean every year. That weight is equivalent to 72,000 blue whales.
"Plastic has reached the most remote, deep and pristine areas of the world’s ocean. The scale of the plastic problem is staggering and affects people, wildlife and the economy.
"As part of Project Ocean our first step is to reduce consumption of single-use plastic bottles. A drink we might enjoy for five minutes could impact on marine wildlife for generations. We want to ensure that anyone who reaches for a plastic bottle is aware of this, and thinks twice. By transforming consumer behaviour and raising awareness of this issue, in collaboration with conservation organisations and business, we’re starting a sea change that can help prevent further damage to the marine environment."
Alannah Weston, Deputy Chairman of Selfridges Group, said:
“The Selfridges Project Ocean campaign is one which is very close to my heart and our business. With our latest initiative we aim to drive awareness of the serious threat plastic poses to our oceans; in particular single use plastic water bottles.
"We will be encouraging people to think twice about their use of plastic water bottles, which ultimately end up as waste destroying our precious oceans.”