Plastic-free revolution starts with these inspiring books and documentaries

Plastic is one of the biggest environmental challenges threatening our living planet. Every minute, the equivalent of a rubbish truck full of plastic is dumped into our oceans. The world is running out of time to reform its ways to save ecosystems and species from mass extinction. Although a large portion of the responsibility lies with industries who are producing plastic objects – Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle are big culprits – but the change starts with the consumer.

Going plastic-free does not happen overnight. For the movement to mobilise, everyone must make a conscious effort to turn away from our plastic dependency. You can read some of our suggestions here. If you’re looking to fight to save our living planet from the climate breakdown, start by watching or reading some of the resources in this article. These documentaries and books will provide context to why it is critical to take responsibility and change our behaviours now. There is also a list of local organisations to follow to get involved in beach cleans and reducing your waste.

Things to watch

Our Planet fish
Gisle Sverdrup/Silverback/Netflix

A Plastic Ocean, Netflix

This award-winning documentary explores the fatal consequences of our compulsive habit for single-use plastic. A Plastic Ocean uncovers the harsh realities of plastic pollution from a global perspective and how it’s destroying underwater ecosystems. The film speaks to experts in the field, including scientists, journalists, scholars and environmentalists, to offer progressive solutions to make our oceans cleaner.

Our Planet, Netflix

Sir David Attenborough and Silverback Productions teamed up with Netflix to address global threats to conservation due to our high-consuming lifestyles. Attenborough cites many industries across the world who are complicit in contributing to the climate emergency, including plastics, signifying that reform is needed from everyone to achieve positive change. The nature series explores diverse habits and the drastic consequences on species due to global warming.

Blue Planet II, BBC

Another pivotal series in Attenborough’s canon of nature documentaries, Blue Planet II focuses on the perils of plastic consumption on our oceans. This sequel arrives 16 years after its predecessor, examining marine life and the catastrophic effects of human behaviour on underwater environments. As an added bonus, the soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea and David Fleming is immensely moving. All episodes are available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

The War on Plastic with High and Anita, BBC

Over a third of all the plastic packaging in the UK comes from the ten leading supermarket brands. The food industry has become heavily conditioned to be reliant on plastic packaging for production and preservation. In a three-part series with the BBC released last year, Anita Rani and High Fernley-Whittingstall investigate the issue to find the main offenders contributing to plastic production and how realistic a plastic-free household is to achieve. This is available to watch on BBC iPlayer for a short time only.

Things to read

How to Give Up Plastic, Will McCallum

Did you know that washing your clothes is the cause of 30% of plastic pollution in the ocean? This book offers practical advice on how you can make a difference by ditching plastic, changing habits you may not release are harmful. From ideas for a plastic-free birthday party to lobbying UK supermarkets, you will feel inspired to take the first steps in finding alternatives in everyday life to save the planet. Written by a plastic campaigner, How to Give Up Plastic is an accessible guide that does not attribute the issue to one specific area, but outlines how we can all make changes towards a better future.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, Beth Terry

It is a daunting prospect making the movement to plastic-free alternatives, with lots of us feeling like we are too small to make a difference. This book includes statistics about health and environment problems, highlighting personal solutions on how to reduce your plastic footprint. What began as a quirky, humorous blog outlining her experiences turned into a bestseller for Beth Terry. It also includes informative lists and charts for easy reference alongside ways to take action at a community level.

No. More. Plastic.: What you can do to make a difference – the #2minutesolution, Martin Dorey

Building on the idea of lots of small actions making a big difference, anti-plastics expert Martin Dorey came up with a quick solution. This is a short and informative read focusing on the Beach Clean Foundation’s call to action of a two-minute beach clean to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering our oceans. Dorey’s book is made accessible to all ages through its simple initiatives and is a good point of reference if you are just starting on your plastic-free journey.

Plastic Soup: An Atlas of Ocean Pollution, Michiel Roscam Abbing

Some researchers believe there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish in 2050. To try and curb this statistic, this wonderfully illustrated examination looks into how plastic makes its way into seas around the world, affecting both wildlife and human activity. Abbing uses powerful images to show the scope of the problem, with rubbish finding its way to every corner of the planet. Despite the scale of the global issue, Plastic Soup imbues the reader with hope, inspiring them to make changes to their day-to-day lives and raise awareness about the plastic crisis.

Local organisations to follow

Brighton rubbish
Image taken by Surfers Against Sewage Brighton, Hove and Shoreham branch.

Surfers Against Sewage Brighton & Shoreham branch: A local branch of the nationwide charity who are tackling plastic pollution on our coastlines. They host regular beach cleans and have been one of the main organisations protecting Brighton beach from the masses of litter since lockdown has eased. Follow them on social media for regular updates.

The Living Coast: This is a programme protecting Brighton and Lewes Downs that aims to conserve nature, support sustainable human development and promote environmental awareness. They offer inciteful and progressive information to residents, schools and tourists on how to be more environmentally-friendly.

The Green Centre: Their mission is to provide carefully researched information to the community on how to have a positive environmental impact. The Green Centre offers an incredible operation to recycle items not taken in by the council’s service (see website for full details).

Ocean’s 8: Taking its name from the Hollywood film, Ocean’s 8 is a team of eight women who help organise beach cleans in Brighton & Hove. Their main aim is tackling plastic waste and other forms of litter entering our oceans. Keep up-to-date with their regular meet-ups on social media.

Plastic-free Greater Brighton: A Facebook page offering supportive advice and tips for how to move towards plastic-free alternatives (and where to purchase items locally). They also provide updates on beach cleans and initiatives by the council and other local organisations.

This is part of our series for Plastic-Free July to educate and inform about alternative solutions to plastic overconsumption. 

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