Life underwater faces a multitude of environmental threats: but one is far more visible and virulent here in Cornwall than the rest, Plastic Pollution. 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 microplastics mimicking sand grains on the beach.
Plastic isn’t ‘bad’ or ‘good’ – it is a both wonder material, strong, light and resistant (hence why it lasts) and without it we wouldn’t have a lot of things we rely on everyday. The problem occurs when its let loose into the wild where it continues to haunt us for a unknown number of centuries.
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 microplastics that infiltrate the food chain and eventually end up in us humans, taking toxins they’ve picked up on the way, causing unknowable harm.
As avid Free-divers, Paddlers, Surfers and all-round Water Babies we at Behaviour Change Cornwall all share a deep connection with Cornwall’s unique coastline – and an innate respect, fascination and urge to protect the world’s oceans.
It is this bond that ties us to the sea that 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.
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 lost ghost netting and other 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 this ghost fishing gear poses to wildlife.
When we’re not freediving down in the depths net cutting knife in hand, or cleaning both the popular and remote beaches to recover the netting that goes into our creations we’re working on our efforts to ensure less plastic enters the sea in the first place – through one of our behaviour changing campaigns.
These projects vary from our collaborative research project using insights gained from behavioural science to reduce plastic entering the Looe River; to teaming up with creatives, groups and businesses to create new educational and hopefully behaviour-changing articles, posters and sustainable initiatives.