Category Archives: Environment

Plymouth Youth Climate Protests

By Tobias Chalcraft

Friday 21st June saw dozens of Plymouth locals take part in a protest to raise awareness of climate-related issues. This was part of the youth protests taking place by schoolchildren across Europe, pushing for more action from elected representatives to tackle climate change.

Organisers say that approximately 1.5 million children in over 1,600 cities will be taking part in the ‘Fridays for Future’ school strikes.

We spoke to two protestors, Hazel (19) and Brendan (20), to get more perspective into the protests taking place in the city. These active citizens argued that their demonstration would provide a good platform to spread awareness among Plymouth residents and put pressure on local businesses and the City Council to take further steps towards helping the planet.

Unsurprisingly, demonstrators said Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish activist making headlines across the world for pressing elected representatives to move towards greener policies, was a driving factor for increasing turnout in these protests.

In addition, various protests carried out by environmentalist group Extinction Rebellion were seen to inspire some of the older protestors taking part. Brendan also referred to campaigner SustainaClaus, who harnesses the joy of Saint Nicholas to help spread awareness of sustainability.

When asked about the efficiency of Plymouth MPs’ fight against climate change, Hazel gave modest praise to the green efforts of Luke Pollard (MP for Plymouth, Sutton & Devonport). This included his recent proposal to have decommissioned nuclear submarines held in Plymouth recycled.

It wasn’t all applause for Pollard though. Hazel went on to highlight that the MP’s role as Shadow Fisheries Minister adds some hypocrisy to his environmentalism, as fishing contributes to the increasing depletion and pollution of our oceans.

Another protestor, who was excused from school to attend, was happy to present some of the signs created by herself and her peers. One poster displayed 10 key reasons for why these young people were motivated to strike, including a reference to the UN’s recent climate report giving us just 12 years to half emissions in order to avoid global catastrophe.

These inspirational young people had multiple recommendations for readers seeking to contribute towards a greener world. These included mutually beneficial fixes for day-to-day life, such as using more public transport. For more green recommendations, check out Generation Plymouth’s article Plastics are Suffocating our Oceans.

Opinion: Tryna be Green

By Abi Purvis

Climate change. It’s a topic we are all concerned about right now, but how can we really make a difference?

I’m always trying to think about how my actions will have the least impact on the planet. As a university student this can sometimes be hard as the budget is…small. I really wish I could be writing this article giving you five easy steps to leaving the smallest footprint on the planet but in the society we live in, it’s hard! Everything is wrapped in plastic, the shops we use are doing little to reduce this and bamboo toothbrushes are pricey. But recently, after thinking for a long time about this, I’ve realised it’s important to remind myself that even the little things make a difference.

I recycle. I use my own reusable cup. I use my own reusable shopping bags. I walk everywhere (admittedly this I because I don’t have a car, but even at home with the parental taxi service, I walk anything that is under thirty mins). The point is that the small and simple changes do make a difference, and you and I should be proud of making these changes.

In the last year it has been amazing to see people making these differences in their diet too. I have been a vegetarian myself for well over eleven years now. Recently, two of my housemates have become vegetarian, my Mum has become vegetarian, two of my friends have become vegetarian, and one has become vegan. I also have friends who are consciously trying to reduce their meat intake, and it’s really wonderful to see people making these small tweaks to their diet to help the planet.

Although, I am still having the debate with people who think, “I am one person, if I cut out meat it won’t make any difference” Yes, yes it will. An average person may eat meat four times times in a week, that’s at least sixteen times in a month, that’s at least one hundred and ninety-two times in a year. So, if they were to reduce their intake to twice a week that’s then ninety-six times a year. Even that is reducing the number of animals farmed and the pollution to the environment in that year.

Now imagine that over a person’s life time.

Even as a uni student these differences can be made. A bag of Quorn Mince is typically around £2, whereas minced meat is typically between £3-£4. So really you can be saving the planet and your bank account.

After successfully completing Veganuary, I have also been trying to make the next step and reduce my dairy intake. I now use oat milk and try to only buy vegan meals. It has actually been going quite well. Yes, I have the occasional slip ups when Dominoes have a deal on. or after a long day when I really want some Galaxy Chocolate or when my boyfriend makes us Nachos. But the point is, I am cutting out dairy and making a small difference.

It’s really easy to put yourself down when you do make slip ups (for instance, when I forget to put my reusable cup in my bag and end up grabbing a coffee in a takeaway cup), but it’s important to remind myself that the rest of the time I do remember my reusable cup, and all of those times I have been helping the environment.

If you want to make a difference just remember small things add up over a life time and any little thing you do will contribute towards that. For me that is continuing towards becoming vegan, for you it can be as simple as walking to uni or having a meat free lunch. Let’s help our planet.

Plastics are Suffocating our Oceans

By Ciara Beal

Plastics. No, not the plastics from Mean Girls. I’m talking about single use plastic bottles, bags, straws, cups, cutlery that you use once and then throw away just for pure convenience. In fact, that single plastic bottle you use will end up in landfill where it will take approximately 500 years to decompose. On average, we each use 53 kilograms of plastic a year and generate a combined total of more than 300 million tonnes of plastic waste. Moreover, eight million tonnes of that plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. This affects our marine life. including seals, whales, dolphins, turtles and seabirds. After ingesting plastics, particularly microplastics (which are tiny pieces of plastic that come from larger plastics that have degraded over time) the animals suffer for months or years before they die.

By the year 2030 the amount of plastic pollution is predicted to double. with most of the consequences expected to hit the oceans. We must stop this from happening.

What YOU can do to reduce plastic pollution:

  • Recycle! Plastic that you put into the brown bin will go to landfill, where it takes up to five hundred years to decompose. Please put any plastics into the recycling bin and check any labels to see if an object is recyclable or not before putting it into the green bin.
  • Exchange single use disposable coffee cups by purchasing your own reusable eco-coffee cup. Coffee shops such as Costa Coffee and Starbucks charge an extra 5p on the cost of a disposable coffee cup. A reusable travel cup, however, will get you a 25p discount off your hand-crafted drink.
  • Rather than using a plastic bottle, use a stainless steel water bottle. This will last you a lifetime without affecting the oceans. The best part about these bottles is they keep water cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 12 hours!
  • Say no to plastic straws. If you don’t need one, don’t use one. In fact, plastic straws take up to 200 years to decompose. Since you won’t be around that long, buy a metal straw, paper straw or bamboo straw instead.
  • Stop using plastic cutlery. Yes it is convenient, but so is reusable cutlery which you can purchase easily from the shop.
  • You must become responsible for your own and others’ rubbish by picking it up and putting it into the bin, as long as it’s safe to touch.
  • Rather than saying yes to the question “would you like a bag with that?”, say no. Instead, treat yourself to a canvas bag. These come in pretty colours and quirky designs which you can use again and again and personalise to your own style.
  • Start taking action now.

The UK Government has already made progress on plastic reduction following the banning of microbeads, plastic bag charges and the proposals for deposit return schemes for drinks containers. So this is a positive step forward.

Morrisons is now the first supermarket to ban plastic packaging on fruit and vegetables. Shoppers will be allowed to purchase their fruit and veg loose or pop them into a paper bag. This development comes after Tesco announced last year that it would ban hard-to-recycle plastic packaging by 2019 and make all packaging fully recyclable by 2025.

Moreover, Waitrose & Partners is to remove traditional plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables and 5p single-use plastic bags from its stores by next spring. The supermarket said the move would cut 134m plastic bags, the equivalent of 500 tonnes of plastic a year.

It is now up to you to decide to contribute to the action of reducing plastic pollution. Please make a difference for the earth today.

Urban Buzz

By Leila Hopkins

We tend to think of endangered wildlife as a problem in far-away places. According to the World Wildlife Trust however, Britain is one of the most nature-depleted countries on Earth, with up to 56% of wild species lost in the last 50 years.

One of the main reasons for this decline is the loss of vital habitats, such as wildflower meadows, on which bees and other insects and their predators depend for food. A staggering 97% of Britain’s wildflowers meadows have been lost since WW2.

This is why the insect conservation charity, Buglife, launched its Urban Buzz project in 2016 with the help of Plymouth City Council. The results are now blooming in mini-meadows across the city, from the Derry Cross roundabout, to Pennycomequick, to Marsh Mills, to Drake Circus.

Insects may not have the same crowd appeal as other endangered species (such as polar bears and pandas, whose gradual extinction is more obvious due to their size), but the stark reality is that insects are disappearing eight times faster than mammals, reptiles and birds.

In fact, if insect numbers keep declining at this rate, they will become extinct within the next century. But, why does this matter? As the Buglife charity points out, insects are the backbone of our ecosystem and in the words of David Attenborough, “If we and the rest of the backboned animals were to disappear overnight, the rest of the world would get on pretty well. But if the invertebrates were to disappear, the world’s ecosystems would collapse.”

Buglife’s B-line project aims to act as ‘stepping stones’ for pollinators, by linking a series of pollen-rich sites together and creating a network of insect pathways around the country, with Plymouth acting as a crucial stop on the insects’ tour. So, thanks to Urban Buzz, not only do the bees benefit, but Plymouth citizens can experience wild and beautiful nature on their doorstep.

For more information on Buglife and its aims visit:
https://www.buglife.org.uk/urban-buzz/plymouth