Selfridges are setting out to tackle plastic pollution in the ocean by “removing all single-use plastic water bottles from our Foodhalls and restaurants, amounting to approximately 400,000 bottles a year.”  Selfridges website.

I was a little confused by the wording. Single use? Surely all plastic bottles when used as packaging  are single use.  I wondered if perhaps they meant single serving water bottle. I have been caught out like this before. Got all giddy about a water bottle ban only to find that it was restricted to those tiny bottles that contain a small glassful each. Yes a start, but hardly a ban.

So I tweeted them

love that you are removing single use water bottles. Does this mean the single serving small water bottles or all bottled water?

and they replied

disposable water bottles have been replaced with access to water fountains within our store.

Way to go Selfridges.

This  is part of its Project Ocean initiative, a collaborative effort with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Marine Reserves Coalition (MRC).

“Professor Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation programmes at ZSL, said the amount of plastic in the oceans was “staggering” and having a “devastating effect” on marine wildlife.

“No matter where plastic litter originates, once it reaches the ocean it becomes a planetary problem as it is carried by ocean currents,” he said.  Business Green

There is also an exhibition curated by Jane Withers in the Ultralounge on G at Selfridges London featuring work by Studio Swine (one of our favourites – check out their great project here) Andrew Friend, Nick Wood and Alice Dunseath, “which shed light on the plastic problem and propose alternative futures.”  There is also an in store water fountain and water bar to refill your own bottle from.

There is lots more on the website including ways you can cut your plastic footprint.

Needless to say the British Plastics Federation (BPF)  “expressed its “dismay” at Selfridges’ move. Philip Law, the BPF’s director general said: “The availability of water in portable, lightweight bottles promotes good health and can be critical in emergency situations. Plastic products do not litter themselves onto our streets or into our oceans, people do.” Taken from Plastic News.

Does shopping in Selfridges  really count as an emergency situation? When might critical hydration be called for? If you can’t fit into a size 12? They don’t have it in the colour you want?  Situations when only water in a light weight bottle will do.

And of course people shouldn’t litter.  They shouldn’t rob houses either but I am not going to leave my  front door open. There are some anti-social elements who don’t behave as we would like. The challenge is how limit their negative impacts. Plastic litter  doesn’t biodegrade. Once out there it lasts for ever. It only takes few meanies to drop their bottles and you have an expensive case of plastic pollution. The answer is  not to say people should stop dropping trash but to stop making everlasting litter.

Some more info

Why plastic doesn’t biodegrade

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