Scuba divers in the South West are joining forces to tackle single use plastic and reduce pollution in our oceans.
Marine biologists Mae Dorricott and Libby Bowles, along with business owner Jose Blanco Rodriguez (aka Pepe), are part of the Plastic Pollution Awareness and Actions Project (PPAAP).
The charity was set up by software engineer Naseem Talukdar to end single plastic use – starting in the takeaway and restaurant industry.
And Mae, a commercially qualified scuba diver, is an ambassador for the charity.
She has worked with sea life around the world and is calling for people to make small changes in their everyday life.
She said: “It helps to be prepared, such as taking your re-usable coffee cup or shopping bag with you.
“People are generally recycling and using reusable bags, which is trickling into reusable coffee cups, but there is still much more to be done.
“I think it’s more realistic if we start small and make lasting changes. I personally still have areas to work on.”
Mae, who also has a Masters in science communication from UWE, said it is a global issue. She added plastic affects us all – whether we eat sea food or not.
She said: “It’s in our beaches and in our seas. Plastic is made up of chemicals and it has an impact on us all. I think we all have our part to play in making this a better world to live in.”
Marine conservationist and teacher Libby Bowles heads Tread Lighter to educate children on ways to protect our seas.
Libby, who has spoken to more than 10,000 school children, said: “Even if you don’t feel a personal connection with the ocean, we need to keep the sea healthy because it provides us with more than half of the oxygen we breathe.”
Libby made a bamboo bicycle to cycle around the world and raise awareness about plastic pollution.
Libby has also worked for five years with leading marine scientists in conservation.
She said: “I have seen the plastic-filled stomachs of dead turtles and sea birds, as well as creatures still ‘wearing’ manmade debris. It’s heart-breaking to see.
“But I believe education is the most important tool to change the world. Children don’t need to wait to become adults to make lasting, meaningful change in their communities.”
Pepe is a keen director of Thali, which runs award-winning Indian restaurants and eco tiffin takeaway food.
He said: “As a diver, I have seen the impact plastic has on our seas and it’s awful.
“It’s simply not sustainable to use plastic everyday, but total eradication is not practical either. Our ethos is to reuse and recycle as much as possible.”
He said home delivery platforms and restaurants could work together to find a better solution.
The chain uses tiffins, a reusable lunchbox system, and has sold over 11,000 to date. They also recycle the majority of their waste, including food and plastics.
Some takeaways report using over a 1,000 containers a week and PPAAP is looking to reduce this nationwide.
And now over 40 restaurant owners and managers have signed up to the charity’s pilot scheme to learn how to adapt to a plastic-free business.
A ‘Curry and Conversation’ meet-up was held to look at cost-effective and convenient alternatives to plastic.
Naseem, who also heads the charity Feed the Homeless, which provides home cooked meals, said: “I wanted to speak out and rally people round, from a range of fields, to tackle this pressing problem and find a long-term solution.”
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/PlasticPollutionAAP