As part of our policy to donate 5% of our profits to charity and social enterprises, we were delighted to contribute funds to help produce an abridged version of the environmental documentary Plastic Shores so that it could be used as an educational tool in secondary schools.
Plastic Shores was produced and directed by Edward Scott-Clarke from Tisbury in Wiltshire and is about the impact of plastic waste on the world’s oceans.
Ed explains the concerns which led him to produce the film:
I distinctly remember the first moment I found out about the so-called ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’. At the time, around October 2010, I was the green specialist at a government thinktank in London. One of my duties was to sift through news outlets for information on how environmental issues could affect UK foreign policy and one day, while riffling through the Independent, I discovered an article on plastic pollution.
Four months later I had quit the thinktank job and taken a plane to the USA with a friend and a camera to find out more. The Independent article was fascinating (although technically false in the detail). It described a floating island of plastic in the North Pacific twice the size of Texas. In my mind’s eye I imagined a floating landfill, so thick one could walk across it. This was very different to the reality. I attended the UN’s 5th International Marine Debris Conference in Hawaii and while there met the who’s who of experts, politicians, and environmentalists related to the problem of plastic pollution. The story that unfolded revealed a problem far more significant than I could have imagined.
Although the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the most talked about, there are actually several patches, one for every major ocean in the world (and numerous smaller ones). A garbage patch is created within an oceanic gyre, or an area of circulating currents. In the North Pacific the currents circulate in a clockwise direction between Asia and North America. All the waste washed into the North Pacific travels these gyres and eventually collect in areas of quieter water within the currents. But the idea of a floating island of plastic waste is, unfortunately, just a myth. I say unfortunately as the problem would be a lot easier to deal with if this ‘floating island’ existed. In reality, most of the plastics in the world’s garbage patches are so-called Microplastics (pieces below 5mm in size) making them impossible to collect without a trawl.
Microplastics have the potential to be an even worse problem than larger forms of marine debris, which can be responsible for serious harm and death to aquatic wildlife. Microplastics enter the food chain through ingestion and release all sorts of chemicals, potentially causing health problems the further up the chain they progress. For species at the top of the chain, like human beings, consequences can be severe. The fact that we now produce close to 100 million tonnes of disposable plastic every year and 6 million tonnes of waste gets into the world’s oceans, the problem is going to get worse, particularly as we cannot collect what is already out there. Plastic is a very durable material and a plastic bottle, for example, can take around 450 years to degrade. There is an enormous problem on the horizon and we need to start tackling it now.
Plastic Shores has been premiered at the United Nations with screenings at the OECD, the European Commission and the US House of Congress.
The full version of the film (58 minutes) can be purchased at www.plasticshoresmovie.com. The 30-minute abridged version will also be available on the same website. Barchester have a limited number of copies that we will distribute to our clients that are teachers or work in education. If you work in education and are interested in a copy, please do get in touch.