#PlasticPatrol is one woman’s nationwide campaign to tackle the global issue of plastic pollution -Lizzie Carr, also known as Lizzie Outside on her blog and social media, is a phenomenal woman and an inspiration. After a cancer diagnosis at the age of 25, Lizzie took up paddle boarding after having seen someone else out on the water, finding it calming and peaceful, and saw it as a way of restoring her health and fitness. It wasn’t until she came back home and started paddle boarding on the waterways she realised how drastic the problem of plastic pollution is. 80% of marine debris starts from inland sources, such as our canals and rivers which eventually flows out into the oceans, as rubbish is carelessly thrown into waterways or not disposed of or recycled properly. In 2017 Lizzie became the first woman to solo paddle board across the English Channel, taking seven and a half hours to cross the 24 miles, and collecting water samples every fourth mile. Having those samples analysed, every single one contained microplastics, with hundreds of tiny pieces invisible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, these microplastics are ingested by birds and fish, eventually ending up in the human food chain, causing dire implications on our health. #PlasticPatrol was born as Lizzie’s mission to restore the health of the waterways as a way of giving back to place that restored her health. Their aim is to combat the global plastic crisis by stopping the problem at its source, and hopefully creating a butterfly effect in which people eventually stop the consumption of single-use plastics. Using adventure and nature, #PlasticPatrol gets people out paddle boarding, armed with a litter picker and basket and picking up any plastics or rubbish they encounter.
This is just one way the issue of plastic pollution can be combated, and everyone individually can do their part to help resolve the situation as there are plenty of ways, large and small, we can do to protect the environment. For example, buying a reusable water bottle or coffee cup instead of purchasing and chucking single-use ones, or bringing a bag with you for your shopping to cut down on the use of plastic bags, one of the worst perpetrators in our oceans. Or if you’d like to play a bigger part, take a leaf out of Lizzie’s book and organise a group clean up in your local area, such as a plogging session. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a new Scandinavian lifestyle trend combining jogging and picking up litter as you go! All you need is running gear, bag for litter and bring along some friends to join in – this is a great solution for both better health and fitness and helping the environment, especially in regards to the plastic pollution issue. The global issue of plastic pollution has been prominent for years, and yet it is only very recently people, including the government, are beginning to wake up and take notice. Perhaps this had something to do with Blue Planet, or everyone’s self-awareness that as a species we are obligated to take care of the planet, but either way it is great this discussion is being had and needs to continue. Our oceans are filled with plastic waste, harming its precious marine wildlife, our streets are littered with garbage and we are chucking away much more than we are recycling. After carbon, plastic is arguably the biggest environmental threat, as it can take hundreds of years to biodegrade, which is even more worrying considering about 40% of plastic is single-use. The debate on plastic is an ongoing issue, and so far has many developments, such as some supermarkets plans to completely remove plastic bags from their stores, or the idea to set up more water fountains in a bid to decrease the need for plastic bottles, and some bars and pubs banning plastic straws. But more can be done, from individuals and corporations alike, and it is our responsibility to make the choices to purchase plastic; of course we cannot get rid of it entirely as it does provide many uses and has its benefits, but we can still make a difference. So recycle where you can, don’t buy products with excessive and unnecessary packaging (plastic wrapped coconuts anyone?), and refuse to use single use plastic!