Over the past few years plastic pollution has been a hot topic. Its feature in the BBC Natural History programme Blue Planet 2 has helped push this higher up the agenda. You’ll probably have seen the impactful images of a turtle caught up in plastic or a seahorse wrapped around a cotton bud – they ram the message home don’t they? But to many, as shocking as these images are … they seem so far removed from your day to day life. I mean when was the last time you saw a seahorse?
Every year the RSPCA receive around 5,000 calls about animals caught up in litter. They’re animals who are still alive – that doesn’t include all of the animals that perish in our litter. A study commissioned by Keep Britain Tidy suggests that 2.9 million small mammals are killed in bottles on roadside verges. That’s not just a huge problem for the small mammal population in Great Britain – it has a knock on consequence for those further up the food chain who rely on them. Numbers of kestrels in England have declined sharply over the past 10 years – it’s no coincidence that their food source have also declined in the same period.
When you take your litter home or put it in the nearest bin – there are some simple things you can do to reduce the risk of it going AWOL on its onwards journey.
- Tie a knot in any plastic bags you’re getting rid of (including things like bread bags). Not only will that knot help weight the bag down and prevent it catching on the wind – it will also stop any animals getting trapped inside it.
- Flatten any tins and cans (making sure all traces of the food that was once in them has been cleaned away.
- Keep the lids on any bottles where possible – it will prevent any animals getting stuck in them.
- Avoid leaving plastic bags filled with rubbish out in the open – they will attract the attention of local foxes, cats and other animals. Where possible leave your rubbish in dustbins with lids on.
- Remember that single use plastics are only single use if you only use them once. Where possible – clean out and reuse containers.
It’s not just your rubbish you need to take care with – consider what else you have that animals might get caught up in unintentionally. Every year the RSPCA across England and Wales receive around 2,000 calls about animals caught up in netting.
Whilst many of those calls do relate to birds caught in netting on high rise buildings – there have been cases recorded of foxes, deer, gulls and badgers, as above, caught up in sports nets left out in gardens and parks over night. Making sure you put things away after use can help save the life of an animal.
Take action on litter
Everyone can help make a difference when it comes to litter. Across the world there are groups of dedicated individuals who help clean up the environment where they are. Through regular litter picks and beach cleans they are doing their bit – why not join one local to where you are?
The Global Wildlife Rescue Project is proud to be supporting Keep Britain Tidy with the Great British September Clean in 2020. For more details of the campaign please visit their website.
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The Global Wildlife Rescue Project is a registered charity in England & Wales. Registered charity number 1188557.