Ocean trash has become a serious environmental issue – especially plastic trash like single-use bags and straws. In fact, there are an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean today, according to National Geographic – and that number continues to grow. But, it can oftentimes be hard for people to grasp the severity of the situation unless they live in areas where trash continually washes up on their beaches. Now, one U.K. broadcasting company is aiming to educate consumers by making the issue urgent and personal.
Sky recently launched its Ocean Rescue campaign to first educate and then change the behavior of consumers around the issue of plastic ocean trash. The effort launched with a 45-minute documentary screened across all of its channels. To make the issue hit home, Sky featured data specific to the U.K., such as "that the number of plastic bottles washing up on U.K. beaches rose 43 percent between 2014 and 2015 and only half of plastic bottles are currently collected for recycling, despite 35 million being sold in the U.K. every day." But the campaign also goes one step further, showing how ocean trash can have a very direct impact on all of us. In fact, a short video associated with the campaign demonstrates how ocean microplastics can end up in the seafood we eat every day. The film even shows a scientist digging in to a plate of mussels, only to reveal that it contains about 90 particles of plastic – and as many as 4,000 fragments may end up in our bodies yearly by the end of the century. Beyond touching on the very real health implications of the plastics in our oceans, Ocean Rescue has also recruited a host of well-known U.K. figureheads to spread the word, including Sir Richard Branson, Prince Charles and astronaut Tom Peake.
Plastics in our ocean are probably the last thing on consumers' minds when they bag up their groceries at the store, but Sky hopes to change that by showing how the issue actually hits very close to home. In fact, 89 percent of global citizens think companies need to do a better job of showing how a company's social and environmental efforts are relevant to them, and Ocean Rescue does just that. Now, the next time U.K. consumers are asked if they'd like a plastic bag with their purchase, their minds just might turn to the fish they're having for dinner that evening.