The superb television series Blue Planet has had a dramatic effect on public opinion, especially with shocking views of the vast rafts of plastic flotsam and explanation of the harmful effects on wildlife. Whilst the pictures and narrative are scientifically accurate and responsibly shown viewers have picked up or applied a range of myths and misunderstandings, or even feelings of helplessness.All that is despite decades of awareness and worldwide campaigning e.g. by Surfers Against Sewage (S.A.S.). Anyway, when Transition Town Letchworth held an event called Fantastic Plastic as a Tuesday Talk on 9th January 2018, it was filled to capacity. First the global picture was outlined, then an explanation of local recycling and an exercise to apply North herts. District Council’s guidance for households. The event was so timely and successful that TTL has been bombarded with queries, requests and offers to help with a range of initiatives.
For the Forum, the significance of this lies not just in the success – on a local scale – but also in the co-operation required to bring about awareness and behavioural change. That involves community groups (to reach out to households), councils (NHDC as the Waste Collection Authority, in the context of the Herts, WasteAware Partnership) and the companies that collect, process and eventually recycle surplus materials toward a ‘circular economy’ of plastic (polymer) materials. Then there is the supply chain to e addressed so as to reduce the production of plastics, especially those for single usage, from product/service planning, design and operation. A shift in public awareness seems to be taking place that needs to be assessed. At a local level, the Forum is an ideal context in which to do so. That could start with a briefing on the local initiatives that are starting up and examples of projects, programmes and campaigns elsewhere and on a larger scale.