Our health and wellbeing, as well as the planet’s, is a primary focus for Primrose’s Kitchen and in the last year I have become very aware of my responsibility to do more to raise awareness about the big issues, educate myself and create platforms to educate others.
It was this realisation that prompted me to organise a series of film screenings and Q and A sessions that will allow us to explore these important topics.
Film is a very powerful tool as it condenses a lot of information into a short period of time in an engaging way, which can easily be broadcast around the world quickly.
The key to making any big changes on the planet is community and education. Through these two things we can move mountains, build resilience, inspire and empower others.
If you didn’t make it to our first event that was held last week at the wonderful Electric Palace in Bridport then here is a little synopsis of what you missed.
We were lucky enough to have a full house of people from the local community to watch a fascinating, beautifully shot BLUE, The Film, that focused on the key issues of overfishing and the other modern crisis of our time, plastic pollution.
Although the locations for the film were further afield, in places such as Indonesia and Australia, the reality is that the United Kingdom has very similar problems and we need to change that.
The most shocking realisation for me was our inefficient use of our own precious resource – fish. If you go into your local fishmonger, it would be likely that more than half of the options were not from UK seas. Nick stated “75% of the fish caught in the UK is exported which means 75% of the fish we eat in the UK is imported”
I was in a pub in Twickenham this week and looked at the menu, the fish in their fish and chips was battered Hoki. I asked where this came from and the answer was New Zealand. I have recently discovered this is the same fish McDonalds use for their fish fillets. When we are concerned about carbon emissions surely food miles must be the first consideration?
This brings me to the question of is there such a thing as a sustainable fish? The consensus was that the most sustainable option is not to eat fish at all, with the second option being to just eat local fish. However, even in the UK waters the effects of overfishing show, with the UK catch being 6% of what it was 120 years ago.
In BLUE, they shockingly described eating Tuna as being akin to eating rare creatures such as snow leopards and white rhinos – the perception that it is a commodity needs to stop.
The question on all our lips, is plastic friend or foe?
The consensus from the evening was that it is not so much the material that is the problem, but rather it is our inability to recycle it to make essential items such as chairs, tables, and the components of a printer or smart phone.
We need to get companies innovating and finding ways to recycle what we have to make items that we need. The use of eco-bricks in building homes is an interesting concept that is working in developing countries and perhaps needs further exploration.
With a film focusing on plastic pollution in our oceans the question is how is this to be avoided?
Compostable plastics cannot biodegrade in cold sea temperatures so the key is to make sure plastic can never make it to the sea. Recycling collections in non-developed countries is pretty unheard of, which is one major problem that needs to change.
A major report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) showed that Britain uses the fifth highest number of single-use plastic items per person. Sadly, for our sea, this includes 13.2 billion cotton buds with most of those ending up in our sewer system. We are also the second biggest user of crisp packets, getting through 8.3 billion in 2018.
Crisps, as well as plastic bottles, are both part of the food-to-go culture, a culture which is extremely damaging to the environment and an enormous effort is required in order to change attitudes.
Emily Stevenson suggests that larger brands like Walkers whose packaging is showing up in our seas 50 years after it was originally produced, need to implement and encourage its customers to use schemes that recycle their packaging into essential items.
It strikes me that if we adopted the reward system for recycling that some of Europe and a lot of the US have had for a while that allows you to get money for your plastic, people’s habits would change and we would begin to appreciate value of this commodity again.
Food packaging has become a large focus for the plastic debate but Julia Hailes suggests that its use in this area makes far more sense than its use elsewhere due to its ability to lengthen shelf life and avoid waste.
Members of the audience suggested that the supermarkets need to do more.
I don’t agree. It starts with us, the customer. We need to buy the change we wish to see. The consumer will force supermarkets to initiate the changes they want to see in packaging; stop buying those items until the changes are made. Otherwise we are all complicit.
So, what should we remember?
- Eat local fish or don’t eat it at all.
- Continue to pick up what you see on the beach and in the water. (We will be organizing regular Dorset beach cleans along with Transition Town Bridport in the New Year so come and get involved)
- Use plastic responsibly, reuse it, recycle it.
- Don’t flush plastic items down the loo as they end up on your beach!