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small orange and white fishes are swimming in a tank with corals and plastic wrappers

Let’s Beat Plastic Pollution

We are looking at the effects plastic is having on the world’s oceans, marine life and ourselves.

We strive to be as environmentally friendly as possible. From improving energy efficiency inside to recycling and composting outside.

In light of our #BeatPlasticPollution pop-up display in the Aquarium, we are sharing some facts about plastic pollution.

Did you know?

  • Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are bought every minute.
  • 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year.
  • Half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away.
  • Plastic rubbish on our streets is washed into storm drains, to the sea polluting our oceans.
  • A staggering 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans every year.
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world-around the size of 500 jumbo jets.
  • Most plastic in the ocean breaks up into tiny particles, which are then swallowed by fish.
  • If current trends continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050!
  • By 2050, 99% of seabirds could have ingested plastic. Wild seabirds have started laying eggs that contain substances and chemicals found in plastic.
  • Animals get tangled in plastic rubbish like six-pack rings and old fishing nets.
  • Whales entangled in derelict fishing gear can endure a slow death – the ‘ghost nets’ that have been left or lost in the ocean by fishermen, are often nearly invisible in the dim light, so hard to avoid.
  • Right now, there are microplastics inside your body, in the food you just ate and the air you’re breathing. It is still unknown to scientists what effect this may have on our bodies.
  • Coral reefs are smothered in plastic bags and litter destroying this important habitat. See what pioneering work our Aquarists with international partners are doing to help restore our coral reefs in Project Coral.

It may feel like one person can’t do much, but by not taking that plastic bag at the supermarket or by using a reuseable coffee cup on your morning cafe order, you are helping to make a big difference to our environment for our future to come.

Things we can do to help

  • Support local and national organisations – like us – who are taking action against plastic pollution.
  • Ask your local restaurant to stop using plastic straws, bamboo, paper and metal are the smarter alternatives. The Horniman Café refills water bottles, stocks canned water and uses plant-based packaging.
  • Bring your own coffee mug or travel mug to work.
  • Choose reusable products that are designed to be durable, repairable, reusable, refillable or upgradable.
  • Recycle – Separate your waste and turn metals, paper, glass, plastic and bio-waste into valuable resources.
  • Take part in a beach, park or street clean up. Get involved: there are probably clean-up efforts happening near you. If not, start one! Think creatively—the possibilities are endless!
  • Do not flush litter down the drain, much of it ends up in the ocean.
  • Helping to create cleaner streets, parks, forests, and beaches is a positive benefit for people and wildlife.
  • Spark a conversation about zero-waste living on social media.
  • Upgrade your apps! Find water-drinking stations using the Refill app or swap and find unwanted items on the Freecycle app on iOS and Android.
  • Why not use reusable carry bags, totes or basket instead of the single-use plastic bag.
  • When you are out and about a reusable drinking bottle is long-lasting, refillable and so much more stylish. Our Gift Shop stocks a selection of reusable bottles, cups and tote bags.

Find out how we are working to become a more environmentally friendly organisation on our climate and ecology page.  Our #BeatPlasticPollution pop-up display is in the Aquarium until Thursday 1 August 2019.