In less than century since its creation, plastic in its myriad forms can be found in every marine environment: from lost or discarded fishing nets – called ghosts nets – threatening to entangle wildlife in the depths of the ocean; to micro-plastics which are so small they mimic sand grains on the beach.
Don’t just take our word for it, here are the facts: of the staggering 6,300 million tonnes of plastic waste was generated between 1950-2015, 9% has been recycled, 12% incinerated and a whopping 79% has been disposed in the natural environment – and despite increasing awareness, by 2050, this amount is only projected to increase.
In Cornwall, and the wider UK, over 70% of the plastic found on our shores comes from lost or discarded fishing nets – so called ‘ghost nets’. These nets persist for hundreds of years, still lethally effective at killing marine life, until they finally breakdown into insidious micro-plastics that infiltrate the food chain and eventually end up in us humans, taking toxins they’ve picked up on the way.
We at Behaviour Change Cornwall all share a deep connection with Cornwall’s unique coastline – this bond that ties us to the sea is what drives our efforts to change our collective relationship with the underwater world, trying in a small way to change our society from consuming into change-making.
Our first aim is to ensure less plastic enters the sea in the first place – through one of our behaviour changing campaigns. These vary from our collaborative research project using insights gained from behavioural science to reduce plastic entering the ocean; to teaming up with creatives, environmentalists and businesses to create new behaviour-changing articles, initiatives and actions
Our second objective is to undo the harm already done – and to this end we have developed our range of Ocean-Positive products. Each one of our creations is hand made here in Cornwall and your support in purchasing one drives our efforts to convert marine plastic that we have recovered from isolated coves and under the waves into cherished items people will never discard – ending its haunting of the ocean and exorcising Cornwall’s wild coast of the danger plastic and netting poses to wildlife.
Our final objective is to help ensure young environmentally-orientated people are mentored, supported financially and allowed to pursue their passion for protecting our shared planet. As well as ensuring that all our products drive positive environmental change – by driving the recovery and interception of more plastic from the ocean – we also ensure that the profit of each product goes to those who found and recycled it. This allows our ghost net recovery teams and our creators to do what they and the world needs them to do – and is only fair pay for sifting through the worlds waste – under falling cliffs and at the mercy of the sea. Whilst we still believe volunteering has a amazing place in conservation – it sadly often ends up with many young environmentalists seeking less noble roles – as sadly, volunteering simply doesn’t pay the bills.