2013 was a big year for EcoTales. It started with a festival with the collaboration and endorsement of Sir David Attenborough and ended with a meeting with PM David Cameron at 10 Downing Street! We are a small organisation with big ideas and we believe that we can achieve big change.
EcoTales is an environmental arts organisation based in the UK. We have spent the last few months touring the country with “Stanleytross” a giant recycled plastic albatross to raise awareness of plastic pollution. Hundreds of school children helped to create him by cutting out one feather each from a plastic milk bottle or black plastic container. These feathers were then attached to a huge frame. Its feet are made from plastic bags and its head was created by artist Michelle Reader using recycled plastic bottles and bottle tops. Its stomach is transparent and has been filled with discarded single use plastic items. Our iconic albatross dramatically illustrates the dangers and real horror of plastic pollution to marine animals.
In September 2013, we made a trip to the Houses of Parliament and held a rally. After the rally, a group of school children took the Albatross to No.10 Downing Street, where they met MP Zac Goldsmith and Prime Minister David Cameron. They handed the PM a scroll of their poem “Dear Albatross” which explains how litter finds its way into the River Thames, and a letter calling for a charge on plastic shopping bags in England. The charge has already been introduced in Wales where government statistics show a drastic drop in plastic bag usage. Northern Ireland and Scotland had already signed up to the charge too, leaving England looking out of touch and lagging behind. However, it looks like the PM took the childrens’ message on board as he announced a 5p charge on plastic bags one week later!
But plastic bags are only the first hurdle and there is still a long way to go to stop plastic pollution. The report into plastic in the River Thames is the start of an awakening. If the Thames is clogged with plastic then so are all the other rivers in the UK and around the world.
As 2014 began, EcoTales collaborated with the Natural History Museum in London and other local groups for a plastic in the Thames awareness weekend. Members of the public came along in huge numbers to free workshops armed with plastic bottle tops they had collected and helped to create a giant mosaic. This will be the front cover of our under sixteens poetry and illustration challenge book. We took a time-lapse film of the book cover coming together.
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The culmination of this project will be an ebook app of poems and pictures by young people of 16 and under, to send out a powerful message to our Government and the plastics industry, to help stop plastic pollution and Sir David Attenborough has written a powerful foreword for the book.
We are so excited that our campaign is now spreading across the globe. In 2013 we were thrilled to be invited to join the Plastic Pollution Coalition, and since then, we have received match funding from the Jack Johnson “All At Once” Foundation. In addition to this the brilliant charity Bookbus is helping to link us up with children in Africa, Asia and South America.
To top it all, some very big and plastic conscious celebrities and renowned artists are giving us some wonderful doodles and poems which will be featured alongside the childrens’ creations in our ebook.
We are inspired constantly and driven by the incredible work and dedication of other individuals and organisations all over the globe. Through Twitter, Facebook and blogs we are proud to be part of such an active and rapidly growing community.
We would love to get feedback and have conversations with anyone out there. We believe that together we are stronger and change will happen faster.
Happy New Year from EcoTales! by Miriam Muscroft