5 Gyres has had a chance to meet with many a Council Member, Mayor, state legislator, and even a few National/International politicians to talk bag bans and plastic pollution strategies. But for a couple of North Americans, getting to meet last week with a British Member of Parliament at Westminster Hall was pretty thrilling. We were invited by Roz Savage and Greener Upon Thames, a London-based NGO working to rid the city of plastic bags. We met at a little cafÃ© across the street from Westminster Hall, to chat before heading over to meet with Zac Goldsmith, a Member of the British Parliament with a strong environmental ethic. On the agenda was discussing a campaign launched by Greener Upon Thames to get the coming 2012 London Olympics to go plastic bag free.
Zac was particularly interested in hearing the latest science on the issue ‘ hard facts to confront the inevitable naysayers. We presented him with a sample of the North Atlantic Gyre, and gave him a brief plastic marine pollution overview. We then launched into a conversation of how to mobilize the public and the media, to spark the campaign.
The Olympics would be a phenomenal platform for raising awareness. For a few weeks, the eyes of the world will be fixed on London for reasons other than the Euro. It’s a chance to make a huge statement about our disposable cultures and irresponsible consumerism ‘ consumerism which exploits many of the countries represented in ways more devastating than plastic pollution.
Zac agreed. The trick is getting this to be a priority issue for the other MPs. What he can do immediately as an MP is draft an Early Day Motion, and facilitate a debate at Westminster Hall.
As they are everywhere, bag bans are a game of political chess, mounting the economic arguments to sway industry friendly/fearful legislators, and mobilizing enough public support. Never an easy task, but we’ve had some successes lately that restore our confidence in the power of the grassroots. How can you help? To begin with, sign the petition. Pass it on. Post it on your FB, send it to your friends, send it overseas, and ask others to do the same. We will keep you updated as the campaign progresses.