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Podcast

The Truth About Plastic: Why We Should All Care with Will McCallum

by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee   /  November 14, 2018

The statistics are devastating. Plastic has increased twenty-fold over the past 50 years and will double again in the next 10 years. Already present in the stomachs of nearly all the world’s marine birds, by 2050 plastics in the ocean may outweigh fish, covering large swaths of the Pacific in floating garbage slicks. But what effect does this plastic have? When ingested by big fish, like whales and seals, it lowers their immune system, lowers their ability to reproduce and even sends them mad. There is little research relating to its effects on human health but there are some papers about BPA and its possible impact on male fertility. Whilst much more robust research is needed in this area, how long are we willing to wait before we take action?

This week, I talk to campaigner and Head of Oceans at Greenpeace, Will McCallum, about what effect single-use plastic (any plastic you use once and then throw away) is having on our planet and what we can do to stop it. Shockingly, even if you throw your coffee cup in the recycling bin, the chances are, it still won’t be recycled and may end up in the ocean. The same is true of the 35 million plastic bottles we use in the UK every day. Although the statistics may sound gloomy, small policy change can make a big difference. Now more than ever before, we have access to the people in power via social media and are able to ask for real change and we will be heard.

We also discuss how environmental health and human health are inseparable and how the current state of the environment is a reflection of our always on the go, highly stressed lifestyles.  Will shares some brilliant ways we can all make a difference including buying a reusable coffee cup, water bottle and bag as well as saying no to straws. This is an essential and empowering conversation – I hope you enjoy it!

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Episode Highlights:

  • How has Will become part of the worldwide campaign to reduce plastic use?
  • Hear how the programme Blue Planet has played a major role in highlighting the environmental part plastics are now having in the world.
  • What is the impact of plastics on human health?
  • How are plastics having an effect on animal welfare?
  • Which parts of the world are the worst offenders for single-use plastic?
  • How can we reduce the overall consumption of plastic?
  • What does Will think that the government can do to help reduce plastic?
  • How does Will suggest reducing plastic and improving our daily lives at the same time?
  • Hear Will’s tips for saving plastic during your lunch break.
  • How does Will think we can influence companies and councils to reduce their plastic use?
  • What can we do to be part of the campaign to reduce plastic?
  • What has happened since the charge for plastic bags came into effect in the UK in 2015?
  • What are Will’s top tips for reducing plastics around the home?
'If we want to visit these beautiful places, if we want to experience the natural world we have a responsibility to protect it.' Click To Tweet

Find out more about Will:

Instagram    Twitter

Will’s book: How to give up plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time.

Check out #pointlesspackaging and #breakfreefromplastic to find out more about plastic waste and what can be done about it.

Further learning:

Dr Chatterjee’s resources:

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee MbChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP, MRCGP