Hundreds sign up to ditch single use items and highlight issue of plastic in our seas


The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the UK’s leading marine charity, is challenging people to ditch pre-packed sandwiches, ready meals and plastic bottled drinks for the whole of June.

Almost 600 members of the public have already signed up to take part in the MCS Plastic Challenge, which aims to highlight how reliant we have become on plastic – as reflected in the amount already known to be turning parts of our oceans into a ‘plastic soup’.

The Plastic Challenge began when MCS staff and volunteers were asked to try and give up single use plastic goods for Lent 2013 after volunteer Emily Smith from Lambeth challenged herself to pack up plastic for 40 days and 40 nights.

The charity will offer help to 2015 Plastic Challengers via its website and social media feed which also has a tip swap area and the opportunity to get help when the going gets tough!

Since the charity began monitoring beach litter levels around the UK more than 20 years ago, the amount of plastic bits and pieces has increased by 180%, causing an increasing threat to marine life.

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Plastic bags, bottles and tiny plastic pieces are regularly found in the stomachs of turtles and other sea creatures, and in some cases have caused their death from starvation or choking.

MCS senior pollution policy officer, Dr Sue Kinsey said: ‘We want to change people’s attitudes towards single use plastics, and to encourage people to value plastic as a resource – not just buying stuff without any thought of the environmental impact.

‘People taking on the Plastic Challenge are often shocked to find out just how much single use plastic is used every day. Have a go at the Plastic Challenge, even if you can only manage a single day, and you’ll never look at your shopping in the same way again!’

MCS says that because plastic plays such a large part in all of our lives, from brushing our teeth and showering, to cooking and buying plastic-packed products, even simply buying lunch is a minefield – boiled eggs in individual plastic containers, apple slices in plastic bags, pasties on a polystyrene tray wrapped in plastic, plus prepacked sandwiches and bottled drinks.

Dr Kinsey added: ‘Our clamour for convenience is a sin for our seas.

‘It’s durable and lightweight, but it’s these properties that allow it to remain in the marine environment for hundreds if not thousands of years. Plastics are among the most persistent synthetic materials in existence and are now a significant and extensive marine pollutant.’

You can take part in the Plastic Challenge at