Brentford Recycling Action Group (BRAG) joined Ealing Friends of the Earth (EFoE) at Brentford Market on 29 July to host an anti-plastic-pollution stall at the Festival of Waste organised by local mental-health charity The Cathja Project.
A plastic-bedecked octopus, created by EFoE for a previous event, caused a sensation, and we succeeded in collecting two and a half pages of signatures for Friends of the Earth’s petition asking for urgent government action to reduce manufacturers’ and retailers’ production of plastic waste.
We were kept busy most of the time talking to people about how they can reduce their use of plastic.
One visitor to our stand brought a plastic bag containing the remains of all the teabags he’d composted, a mass of fibrous plastic. The more tea from plastic teabags, let alone plastic cups, you drink, the more chemicals you imbibe, particularly if you steep twice.
Another important cause of plastic contamination is the microfibres released into waste water when we wash our synthetic clothing, with these fibres ultimately ending up in our drinking water.
Wash bags are available for containing synthetic clothing in washing machines and preventing fibres from entering water systems. But this method relies on action by individuals and is not cheap. Most people we talked to said they were shocked at the implications of this pollution and of all plastic pollution in general, expressing support for further urgent action by elected officials.
Councillor Guy Lambert (Brentford-Labour) visited our stand and explained that in Hounslow recyclable plastic is exported to the Philippines. The rest is sent to Avonmouth, near Bristol, for incineration, which generates energy. Hounslow’s mayor, Councillor Samia Chaudhary (Hanworth-Labour), also dropped by and posed with our octopus.
Reporting and photographs by Sheila Churchill