The RAW Foundation are back at Glastonbury, next to the Croissant Neuf stage in the Green Fields, raising awareness and campaigning against the plastic pollution that plagues our planet. Having banned the sale of single-use plastic drinks bottle at this year’s Festival, we support RAW’s work petitioning against the production and sale of single-use plastic.
Melinda Watson established RAW in 2010 and three years ago, travelled from Cairo to Cape Town, painstakingly cataloging plastic waste, “to shine a spotlight on the sheer scale and transboundary nature of pointless plastic pollution.” Her most recent expedition took her across South America and along the Amazon river from source to mouth. As RAW prepare to launch their new campaign on Thursday, we talk to Melinda about what she’s learnt and how we can help.
Tell us a little about RAW.
We’ve been doing this work for over a decade and, along with our sister company RAW Bottles, we share a deep belief that a better world – from single-use plastic – is possible. We’re all becoming more aware of the problem plastic presents; contributing to climate change, contaminating precious water systems, passing up the food chain and over all, affecting the health of our planet. But still not enough is done to put an end to this pollution.
What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve seen?
What was alarming was the extent of plastic pollution throughout the Amazon Basin – everywhere we went, the myth of a pristine Amazon rainforest was well and truly busted. Throughout our journey across South America – from Rio de Janeiro to Ushuaia at the end of the world, from the Atacama Desert to the sacred waters of Lake Titicaca – the scale of mismanaged plastic pollution was staggering.
Logos of our most famous multinational consumer brands where clearly visible in this tsunami of disposable plastic. These brands – with their throwaway packaging – are responsible for promoting and perpetuating a modern throwaway culture that is overwhelming communities and our planet with plastic pollution.
It gets everywhere, we know this, so what now?
The inconvenient truth we are facing is that ‘convenience’ has an unacceptable cost, and the poorest people and the ecosystems on which we all depend are paying the price. It’s time to face reality: recycling alone will never be sufficient enough to address the rising scale of the problem. Since we began our love affair with this ubiquitous material in the 1950s, only 9% has been recycled globally.
The proliferation of single-use plastics has to stop. Now. As the major source of the crisis, the time has come to firmly place the responsibility where it truly lies: with the corporations and plastics producers. They must now go beyond pledges to improve recycling and commit to massively reduce and phase out the amount of single-use plastic and packaging they produce.
What can we do about it?
Action needs to be taken on every level: the plastic producers, the government, and us – the consumers. If we change our own habits to refuse single-use plastic wherever and whenever we can, and join forces to hold these brands accountable by demanding either unpackaged or reusable products and packaging – in turn they too will change. The power is in our hands.
Here’s what you can do to help make a difference:
- Refuse single-use plastic products and packaging .
- Cut out non-essential single-use items like glitter, plastic cups, plates and cutlery, and plastic straws .
- Using reusable and refillable alternatives like water bottles, bags and cups .
- Buying groceries and toiletries in bulk with less or no packaging or compostable alternatives .
- Choosing ethical companies who are committed to reducing plastic use .
- Take part in community initiatives to tackle plastic waste, such as community litter collections or local beach clean-ups .
- Hold governments to account for their responsibility in tackling the plastic pollution crisis .
- Demand that multinational corporations take responsibility for the plastic they produce especially in developing countries .
- Write to your elected representatives (in the UK via www.writetothem.com) about your plastic waste concerns and ask them to take-action .
- Sign and share our #TaxPlasticPolluters Campaign to call for a tax on single-use plastic producers and demand that they cut the amount they produce and sell by half by 2025 .