Can You ‘Sea’ the Plastic Killer.

Jo is an underwater film maker who was shocked by what she saw as a camerawomen filming for the BBC blue planet. amazingly jo made the film plastic oceans (Netflix) to show us all the devastating effects that plastic waste is having the health of the oceans. jo has made many personal sacrifices to bring this story to us all.

JEREMY [00:00:29]1. HELLO LISTENERS ALL AROUND THE WORLD AND THANK YOU FOR LISTENING TO SAVING TOMORROWS PLANET. WE ARE ON A MISSION TO GIVE A PLATFORM AND A VOICE TO INDIVIDUALS AROUND THE PLANET WHO ARE ACTUALLY DOING THINGS TO REDUCE OUR EMISSIONS AND HALT THE INCREASE IN THE TEMPERATURE OF THE PLANET. I HAVE LITTLE CONFIDENCE IN OUR POLITICIANS TO TAKE BOLD ENOUGH ACTIONS, PUT IN PLACE REGULATION OR INVEST IN INNOVATION THAT WILL HALT THE INCREASE IN TEMPERATURE. MY SENSE IS THAT WE WILL DEPEND ON COMPANIES TO CREATE THE TRANSFORMATIVE INNOVATION NEEDED FOR US TO LIVE IN A LOWER CARBON WORLD. EVEN THEN, I SEE THAT THE GENERAL RESISTANCE AND LACK OF BOLDNESS AMONGST MANY PEOPLE MEANS THAT IT IS DOWN TO STRONG WILLED, DETERMINED, DEDICATED AND VISIONARY INDIVIDUALS WHO STEP FORWARD TO MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN.ITS ALWAYS THE WAY. I KNOW THROUGH MYSELF HOW HARD IT IS TO GET ON WITH EVERYDAY LIFE, THE PRESSURES, THE DEADLINES, JUST MAKING IT THROUGH EACH DAY AND YET AT THE SAME TIME CHANGING SUBSTANTIALLY WHAT WE DO TO HELP THE PLANET. THE DROP IN BEEF SALES IS A GREAT SIGN THAT TOGETHER THINGS ARE SHIFTING AND wE WANT TO SPEAK TO ANYONE WHO CAN INSPIRE OTHERS TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY, SO IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE A GUEST, FOR EITHER A FACE TO FACE CONVERSATION OR WE CAN LINK TO YOU ANYWHERE AROUND THE WORLD AND RECORD A CHAT VIA FACETIME OR SKYPE. JUST CONTACT US ON INSTRAGRAM OR BY EMAIL TO PRODUCTION@SAVING TOMORROWS PLANET .COM. [0.0s]

JEREMY [00:00:29]2. TODAY I AM TALKING TO AN INCREDIBLY INSPIRING WOMEN WHO TRUELY REPRESENTS A STRONG WILLED, DETERMINED AND VISIONARY INDIVIDUAL. JO RUXTON, FOUNDER, DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER OF THE EPIC FILM PLASTIC OCEANS. YOU CAN SEE THIS FILM ON NETFLIX AND WATCH TRAILERS ON YOU TUBE. IT IS A FILM THAT SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH NAMED AS “ON OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FILMS OF OUR TIME”. I TALKED TO JO ON SKYPE IN CORNWALL WHERE SHE LIVES. JO IS SUCH AN AMAZING PERSON WITH THE MOST INCREDIBLE STORY, THAT WE HAVE MADE AN EXTENDED PODCAST CONVERSATION TODAY[0.0s]

JEREMY [00:00:29]3. I STARTED OFF BY SIMPLY ASKING JO TO EXPLAIN HOW SHE GOT INTO FILMING WILDLIFE UNDERWATER IN SEAS AROUND THE WORLD. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:00:30]OKay, well, I’ve had a few careers, but probably the most relevant ones are the most recent. I was based in Hong Kong and I worked for WWF in marine conservation and started their first marine program. And then after that I did a complete career change and went to work at the BBC and the Natural History Unit making underwater documentaries. And the one that I cut my teeth on was the Blue Planet series. And then after the BBC, I decided to make my own film for many reason. [35.4s]

JEREMY [00:01:10]4. AND HOW DID YOU BECOME AN EXPERT IN DIVING TO USE IN UNDERWATER FILMING. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:01:18]Well, I’ve been diving for pleasure for many years, actually, and had got up to advanced instructor level when the BBC were looking for people. Also join the Blue Planet team. They wanted somebody that had the marine biology background, somebody that had the diving skills which could convert to HSC, which we had to be to dive for the BBC. And some didn’t knew about corals and had contacts in the Asia-Pacific region. And. And so I did my diving skills just made it very easy for me to cross over. [35.2s]

JEREMY [00:01:53]5. WELL WE ALL KNOW BLUE PLANET AND ARE IN AWE OF THE AMAZING FILMS YOU SHOW, BUT UNTILL THE VERY RECENT SERIES WE HAVE ONLY SEEN THE MOST PRISTINE VIEW OF THE SEA AND SEA LIFE. WERE YOU ALREADY THEN SEEING ISSUES WITHIN THE OCEAN [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:02:30]Well, I’d always been concerned about the marine environment anyway. [2.9s]

JO RUXTON [00:02:34] I started in January 97. The Blue Planet series went out, but in September 2001I0.2s] [00:02:34]And in fact, when we made Blue Planet the first one, we were going to do a six part series to actually show the other side of what we were seeing on these sheets. You know, the oceans weren’t perfect, the beaches weren’t clean, and certainly the whole of the whole of the ocean was full of all the fish that we were kind of dipping into it to be. But unfortunately, we were co funded by Discovery. And Discovery did not want to fund conservation stories. They said Americans aren’t interested in conservation, which is very interesting. If you say that to an American, they get very upset that certainly the ones I’ve I’ve worked with. And so that was never created. Apart from one film which was called Deep Trouble, which was about overfishing, and that just went out on BBC Two and wasn’t in the boxed set. So it’s interesting how things have changed,. [55.3s] [00:03:30][0.0s]

JEREMY [00:03:30]6. ITS HARD FOR ALL OF US TO THINK BACK TO 1997 TO 2000 WHEN JO WAS FILMING BLUE PLANET AND IT IS INTERESTING TO HEAR AN EXAMPLE OF THE PLASTIC ISSUE JO WAS  SEEING AT THAT TIME. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:03:30]But we were constantly seeing problems certainly with plastic. And one of the shoots that comes to mind is one that we were filming off the coast of southern Spain. And it was pilot whales and pilot whales are very inquisitive, friendly animals. And they’ll come very close and they’ll bump the camera. But where we were was just where all of the poly tunnels are, where they’re growing our winter salads. And the wind is very strong in that particular strait. And huge swathes of polythene were blowing into the water around where we were diving and around by the whales were. And it just made a bee feel, you know, angry and and concerned about the whales. But every time we came back and I was saying something about conservation, it was always the same thing. People don’t want to know about that. They just want to be entertained. [56.5s]

JEREMY [00:04:42]7. THAT ALREADY SOUNDS TERRIBLE AND IF ONLY WE HAD BEEN FULLY CONCERNED ABOUT IT BACK THEN, AND I ASSUME THAT IT IS NOW MUCH WORSE WHEN JO GOES DIVING . [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:04:59]There’s certainly more plastic in the ocean now, it’s much more evident on beaches, on strand lines and certainly the micro plastics that you see. But it is still a problem then. And looking at the effects that’s happened since Blue Planet 2 came out, I just imagine if we’d actually started talking about it 20 years ago, perhaps it wouldn’t have been in such a situation. [22.6s]

JEREMY [00:05:22]8.WHAT DAVID ATTENBOROUGH DID WITH BLUE PLANET TWO BY PRE ANNOUNCING EACH EPISODE WITH A STATEMENT ABOUT PLASTIC HAS HAD THE MOST PROFOUND EFFECT ON OUR CONCIOUSNESS AND I WANDER WHAT PROVOKED THE BBC TO FOCUS ON THE EFFECTS OF PLASTIC. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:05:23]But even with Blue Planet too, plastic wasn’t originally in it. And David Attenborough had gone to a screening, a rough cut screening, and said to them, why isn’t plastic in this? Haven’t you watched Joe’s film? And because of that, they put plastic in. So it’s been interesting because I did take this film idea to the BBC before I left and they were not interested at all. So I’m really pleased that when they did do it because of the wonderful Sir David suggested it. It’s now turn things around. And actually there’s been more follow up on the the problems of plastic, not just in the ocean, but on land as well. Since the success of that. [42.3s]

JEREMY [00:06:55]9. JO I ALSO LIKE DIVING AND HAVE DONE MANY DAY AND NIGHT DIVES IN ALL THE CONTINENTS AND I HAVE RECENTLY SWAM WITH A WHALE SHARK IN THE MALDIVES WHICH WAS AN INCREDIBLE AND UNFORGETABLE EXPERIENCE  [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:06:55]I have a particular love of shark arts. I think they are the most beautiful creatures and I feel so privileged to have been in the water with many of them. And sharks are being hunted for their fins. And because of overfishing and because of the felling that’s going on, the shark populations are down by 90 percent of their original number. And every time I did a shark film, I wanted to get that point in. You know, the decimation of these incredible populations because the top predators are so important. If the top predators are killed off, then the next layer down more prolific, bright, and that means all of the ones underneath them will disappear. [41.6s]

JEREMY [00:07:37]10. I FEEL PASSIONATE TOO THAT THE AMOUNT OF SHARKS BEING KILLED FOR SHARK FIN SOUP OR JUST TO BE KILLED IS JUST HORRIFIC . SHARKS HAVE BEEN DEMONISED AND HUNTED AS THOUGH THEY ARE THE ENEMY. JUST LIKE WHALES IT SEEMS THEY NEED TO BE PROTECTED BUT IT WOULD APPEAR THAT PEOPLE DONT WANT TO HEAR THIS . [0.1s]

JO RUXTON [00:07:38]And it was something that I felt was so important. But right the way through was always being told that people did not want to sit and watch bad news, which is interesting when you think how many times they actually watch the real news every day. And there’s a lot of not a not a lot of good news in that. [14.8s]

JEREMY [00:07:53]11. THIS IS WHERE JO’S PERSONAL STORY BECOMES INTERESTING, BECAUSE SHE WAS CLEARLY NOT HAPPY TO BURY HER CONCERN BUT WANTED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT  [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:07:54]it was just began to really plague me that I didn’t feel that we were being honest in how we were presenting the oceans. And so I wanted to do something else and started to think about it. And then eventually I did. [13.9s]

JO RUXTON [00:08:32]Well, I never planned it to be quite the struggle, but it was actually I thought that it would be quite easy to get. You know, once it was funded to get the film made and it would take a couple of years, but some it wasn’t like that at all. When I decided to leave the BBC, I did go for the voluntary redundancy package, which gave me the equivalent of a year’s salary. So I had time to play with. I worked on the story. I went to potential funders. I tried to find out as much as I could. And I also managed to go out to the centre of the North Pacific Ocean and see what the situation was out there, because I’d heard about this phenomenon called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. And so I wanted to find out as much as I could that the funding was very difficult because as soon as I left the BBC and didn’t have that, you know, the security of a monthly salary coming in the world then went into global recession. That was October 2008. And if I’d known that was going to happen, I’d probably never have taken that jumped. But it was it wasn’t easy. It took eight years to make the first element. [75.2s]

JO RUXTON [00:09:47]And for four of those, I. Coming in, it was. [3.4s]

JO RUXTON [00:09:52]It was a struggle. So but I feel very passionately about this subject. I really feel that we’re in this mess because since the 50s, we have believed that plastic is disposable and yet plastic was designed not to break down, naturally designed to defy nature so it will not decompose. And yet we were making single use items out of it. And when you think about that, you can’t help but want to do something because it’s so easy to change that mindset. And a film is a very, very good tool for getting that awareness across. You can talk about it, but when you see the images and see what’s happening around the world, then you can’t deny we’ve got to do something about this. And I think we can. [45.0s]

JEREMY [00:10:37]12 WE HAVE ALL NOW HEARD OF THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH, AND. HAVE ASSUMED BASED ON ALL THE DIAGRAMS WE HAVE BEEN SHOWN THAT IT IS A MASSIVE FLOATING ISLAND OF PLASTIC. BUT THE REALITY IS DIFFERENT AND ACTUALLY MUCH WORSE [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:10:52]It was very interesting, actually, because when you get to the centre there and we only spent a month on this trip, you don’t actually see anything. You see the occasional larger piece of plastic things like crates that have clearly just been thrown off the back of ships. But this idea of a floating continent, as as it was described, you know, three times the size of Spain or twice the size of Texas was not there. But the reality is far more insidious because the people that I was with were a group of six scientists. And what they were doing was plankton trolls, because what they told me was that when plastic enters the ocean, it takes about 20 years to get to the centres. When it’s picked up in the big, you know, the giant ocean currents, and during that time it is subjected to sunlight and saltwater and wave action and that starts to make the plastic brittle. [57.1s]

JEREMY [00:11:50]13. THAT IS NEW NEWS TO ME BUT I WANDER WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:11:50]So on that journey, it breaks up and breaks up and breaks up until it’s tiny little pieces. So they were doing plankton trawls to collect what was on the surface because any plastic with a density of less than one will float. Much of it sinks. But that’s what they were looking at. [15.0s] [00:12:18]the closer we got to the centre, that first site was absolutely nothing. Every single net that we put in was absolutely choked with plastic. And to make matters worse. The little creatures that were there. They have that when they’re that small. The little plank tonic animals, many of them have transparent bodies. And you could see little fragments of plastic inside them. And these these are zoo plankton and they form the base of the marine food chain. They feed on the plants, the phytoplankton. But they are just at the heart of the food chain. And that means that plastic is guessing at the very lowest levels. So it was a real eye opener for me that this so-called great Pacific garbage patch appeared to be invisible, but in its invisibility is much more dangerous. [46.2s]

JEREMY [00:13:05]14. WELL THIS IS A VERY DIFFERET STORY TO THE ONE I AM SURE THAT I HAVE READ IN THE PRESS, AND DOES TWO THINGS, IT MAKES IT SEEM LESS BAD BECAUSE IT IS INVISIBLE AND YET THE FACT IT IS ENTERING PLANKTON MAKES IT WORSE. I WANDER HOW JO VIEWS THIS. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:13:33]I think what the media will do is pick up on some things sensational and say, oh, whilst it’s described as something that size. Yes, the plastic does actually stretch right across. But people visualize it. And I think it’s quite dangerous because if they’re then told that you can’t see anything thing, they will then think that there’s not a problem, not that, you know, not to think enough into it, that actually if it is this small and it’s getting into that level of the food chain, it is much worse. I started questioning it before we went away because I have a scientific background. And so I like to have evidence and I couldn’t see any pictures other than ones that were clearly river mouths. And I also questioned all of these astronauts that are up on the International Space Station, beaming back photographs. How come they weren’t seeing it? If it was a new continent and that just made me determined to get out there and see for myself. And look, I was lucky enough to be able to do that. [60.7s]

JEREMY [00:14:34]15. WELL THAT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW THAT YOU SAY IT IN THAT WAY, AND FROM A FISH AND BIRD PERSPECTIVE I AM INTERESTED TO KNOW WHAT JO DISCOVERED TOO. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:15:14]What we did find, which was very sad in particular, was the seabirds and seabirds. To me, as a sort of the sentinels that will tell you about the health of the ocean and the parent birds will fly over the ocean looking for something that will reflect the light, which in a healthy system would be perhaps a little cuttlefish or, you know, a little fish. And the scales are reflecting the light and they dive down and they scoop it up and they put it into their crop, which is the fourth stomach. It doesn’t digest the food. So I kind of think of it as a bit like a shopping bag. And then they take it back and they feed it directly to their chicks or the chicks are having food which has not been digested. But in the case of plastics, they are swallowing massive pieces of plastics. We filmed three bird sequences and they were all very strong, but we had to drop one of them. But the two that are in there, when you watch those, you cannot deny that we’ve got to do something about this. We’ve got this top plastic getting in. [61.7s]

JEREMY [00:16:16]16. IT IS REALLY SHOCKING TO HEAR THIS AND THAT JO WAS FILMINGTHE PLASTIC FOUND IN BIRDS STOMACHS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HER FILM PLASTIC OCEAN. AS WE THINK ABOUT THIS, I AM INTERESTED TO KNOW WHAT THE IMPACT MAYBE ON BABY BIRDS BEING FED BY THIER PARENTS AND IF SHE WAS ABLE TO FILM THIS, AND JO WAS. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:16:17]One of them was sheer waters and the particular type was the flesh footed shearwater that breed on a World Heritage island about 700 kilometres north east of Sydney. It’s called Lord Howe Island. The island is beautiful, so pristine, and the birds lay their eggs in the forests, which are Banyan and Kentish Palm. I mean, everything about the island is just gorgeous. But around the burrows of these birds, you can see little pieces of plastics, which the birds have been vomiting out when they’ve got the strength to do that. But a massive percentage of the birds are being fed so much plastic that they just don’t have the energy to make it out to sea and do the first journey they need to do. And that particular morning we filmed that sequence, we collected about 10 dead birds from the beach and took them back to the laboratory. And are seabird biologist Dr. Jennifer Lavers was cutting their stomachs open to see what they’d been eating. We thought that we would have to fill quite a few of them to get all the angles, meet it. But it all happened with the first bird. And you can see as soon as she opens the the bird up before she even opens the stomach, you can see the stomach is completely compacted with plastic. There’s just it’s very hard. And she tries to move. And then when you cut it open and reveals the whole thing is just full of plastic. [85.6s] 

JEREMY [00:17:48]17. JO PAINTS AN INCREDIBLY VISUAL AND MEMORABLE IMAGE – YOU CAN LITTERALLY PICTURE ALL THE PLASTIC PIECES. IN THE STOMACH  [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:17:49]And we stayed with her while she cut the other ones open. And every single bird that you see on the bench in the cell was exactly the same as the first one. So that was the the first very strong sequence. And then we had a similar one on Midway Island with albatross, an albatross, a much bigger bird. So the things that you’re seeing in their stomachs, you can actually recognise and I’ve got jars at home with the albatross, stomach contents in them and one of them even not a printer cartridge in it. And there’s four cigarette lighters, there’s a toothbrush, there’s bottle caps, toys, a golf ball, all these things that, you know, have just not been thought about that people have chucked out. And unfortunately, these birds are mistaking them for food for their little chicks. So it’s some it’s a huge problem. [46.4s] 

JEREMY [00:19:43]18. AS A MATERIAL SCIENTIST MYSELF I KNOW THAT AS PLASTICS BREAK DOWN IT IS POSSIBLE THAT CHEMICAL REACTIONS CAN OCCUR, I AM INTERESTED TO KNOW IF JO HAS EXPLORED THIS WITH SCIENTISTS TOO . [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:19:44]What happens with plastic is that when it gets into the ocean from day one, it starts to attract chemicals rapidly. And these chemicals are out in the ocean from decades of agricultural and industrial runoff. So there’s so much of it out there. Even the ones that have been banned, like DDT, which was banned in the 70s, is still out there. You can’t pick it up and take it away. But what happens when plastic goes and it sticks to it straight away, but it doesn’t chemically combine with it. It hit hikes. And what happens when those plastic pieces are swallowed, those chemicals, they actually like fact better than plastic. So they are released into the bloodstream and stored in the fatty tissues. So the higher up the food chain you are, the more of those chemicals are going to be available to you. And these chemicals in the laboratories have been linked to all kinds of critical disease, including cancer and auto immune deficiencies, cognitive and behavioural disorders, endocrine disruption and from that infamous polity. So it’s you know, whilst you you might think, well, I’ve eaten fish and I’m absolutely fine. It’s hard to actually get an answer to the question, is it dangerous to eat fish now? I’d like to think we’re still at a level where fish is still very healthy to eat and certainly with billions of people on the planet relying on it as their main source of proof Gene. I hope we’re not at a critical stage yet, but if we know that those chemicals have been linked to those diseases in laboratory mammals, why would we continue to allow plastic to get into the ocean and to risk it getting so much worse. [106.7s]

JEREMY [00:21:31]19. THIS IS REALLY A MAJOR PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE AND AGAIN ONE WE DONT HEAR ANY DEBATE ABOUT. WHENEVER WE HEAR A DISCUSSION ABOUT PLASTICS BEING CONSUMED BY FISH WE IMAGINE IT IS PIECES OF PLASTIC THAT WILL STAY IN THE STOMACH, NOW WHAT JO EXPAINS IS ABOUT THE VERY WATER FISH FILTERING BEING LADEN WITH CHEMICALS THAT CAN GO INTO THE VERY FISH MEAT FIBER? [0.0s]

JEREMY [00:24:21]20. SINCE PLASTIC BOTTLES USED FOR DRINKS ARE ONE OF THE LARGEST SOURCES OF PLASTIC MATERIALS ENTERING THE OCEAN, I WANT TO HEAR WHAT JO BELIEVES THE DRINKS COMPANIES SHOULD BE DOING. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:24:21]. If it was a drinks company, I would say we go back to glass or aluminium or some kind of refill system, the reverse vending machines that they have in certainly a lot of European companies outside supermarkets, people can put the bottles in and then get some money off. So that means that the plastics coming back I it can be used again. And it also gives the value to that plastic. If you’re using aluminium, you can keep recycling [64.3s] [00:25:27]the aluminium thousands of times. The problem with plastic bottles or any plastic is that you can’t keep recycling it down cycles all the time and eventually you end up with plastic that nobody can do anything with. So that’s the problem with a lot of people say, oh, yes, I drink, I drink it in a plastic bottle, but I always recycle it. Well, that’s just putting off the time that it becomes useless plastic and nobody wants it. So I would look at alternatives and refill. Certainly for cosmetics, refilling is a fantastic idea. And there are new companies coming to light now that are using aluminium bottles that you just take back. Body Shop started doing it way, way at the beginning. I mean, but before any of this was being talked about, probably about 25 years ago, you could take your bottle back and they would refill it. And that’s before anyone was talking about plastic. So it is possible and we’re certainly seeing more and more retail shops coming up now, which I think is a wonderful idea. Changing the packaging, getting rid of the extra layers of of plastic, the extra cellophane around it when you’ve got something in a box, just things that can be done that change it. We can do it. We did it before. So all of these changes can be made. And if they’re even if they’re small changes, if it’s done across a big enough number, big enough quantity, that will still help everything that’s going out to the environment. It’ll bring those numbers down. [84.7s]

JEREMY [00:26:52]21. TALKING OF CELOPHANE IT IS TRUE THAT HERE IS A MATERAL THAT IS USED EITHER FOR AESTHETIC REASONS OR TO STOP TAMPERING, BUT SMALL SEALED BOXES CAN ACHIEVE THE SAME THING. IT MAKES ME WONDER WHAT OTHER MATERIALS SHOULD ESSENTIALLY BE BANNED LIKE PLASTIC STRAWS IN JO’S MIND?. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:27:22]I would ban polystyrene for a start, there’s absolutely no excuse. Polystyrene. It’s the hardest thing to recycle. Most places don’t recycle it. It stays in nature. It’s the last thing to break down. It floats on the surface of the ocean. The other thing about polystyrene is that it’s being used. It’s a lot for takeaway food and for hot coffees and things like that. And of all the plastics, polystyrene, leeches, the most chemicals into whatever is being contained in it. So if you’re having something like a curry, which is fatty, it’s going to absorb those chemicals from the polystyrene. So that’s the worst thing. And also for packaging. If you’re buying something like, I don’t know, a television, they come in polystyrene moulds. But there are now alternatives using mushroom mycelium, which can be grown very rapidly into those moulds and dry it out and we’ll do exactly the same job as polystyrene does so that there’s there’s so many alternatives. Or you can use the egg box type, recycled cardboard packaging, small electronic items. So we know it’s possible. A lot of shops are doing it now. IKEA is doing it for it, for example. So polystyrene bam, that one, that would be a good start. [74.1s]

JEREMY [00:28:36]22. SO LETS TALK ABOUT PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES BECAUSE WE ARE SEEING MORE PEOPLE NOW IN THE UK, USA AND EUROPE FOR EXAMPLE CARRYING ALUMINUIM REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLES.. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:28:39]in any country where you can drink clean water out of the tap, bottled water should be banned. There is no excuse for it. Certainly in this country and many other countries in the developed world, I’ll give you an example of this story for when we were filming, we were on Tuvalu, this tiny island in the Pacific, and we’d flown in from Fiji when the crew were there. There was a massive cyclone in Fiji and the crew was stuck for 10 days. When we got back to Fiji, the cyclone had created such bad flooding that a lot of the ground water was contaminated and people were getting quite sick because they didn’t have access to fresh water, clean water. Meanwhile, the aquifer where Fiji Water comes from, you’ve probably seen the Fiji water bottles that kind of square with a pink eye. Best guess on it’s the most prised bottled water in America. That water was not accessible to the people in Fiji because it was being put into plastic bottles. It would then have sat in the sunshine on the dock waiting to be exported. So all the chemicals which the sun would be helping to force into that water, it would then cross six thousand miles of ocean. It would then be taken to a store room, which may or may not be worth all that there for goodness knows how many months. And eventually somebody would pay four dollars for that bottle when they could cross their kitchens, turn on the tap, and get perfectly clean water. There’s absolutely no sense in it. The whole idea of putting water in a plastic bottle is just madness. And it all came about because there was a lot of noise about the amount of sugar that was going into carbonated drinks. And so the the the sales were plateauing. And so some bright spark said, well, let’s let’s bottle water and tell people it’s healthier and get some celebs to run around with water bottles. And we fell for it and it’s mad. [113.6s]

JEREMY [00:30:50]23. OK SO WE CAN AGREE THAT THERE ARE SOME USES FOR PLASTIC THAT CAN BE AVOIDED BY SAY BRINGING YOUR OWN REFILLABLE BOTTLES, BUT ALL SORTS OF FOOD IS PROTECTED AND TRANSPORTED IN PLASTIC THAT WE ALL RECYCLE. BUT MOST OF US ARE NOT REALLY SURE WHAT HAPPENS TO THE BAGS OF RUBBISH THAT WE PUT OUT FOR THE RECYCLING [0.8s]

JO RUXTON [00:42:15] 0.0s] [00:42:15]. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:42:48]Yes. Well, recycling is a bit of a myth overall, a lot of the time we think our plastic is being magically turned into something useful with recycling of plastic. It’s always down cycling. It always ends up being a worse situation than it was before. Until eventually you can’t do anything with it. It’s black. It’s lost all of its properties. That’s probably very hard and nobody wants it. The other thing we’ve been doing is sending it to countries where there is no infrastructure to deal with waste. Now, what they tend to want in these countries is the P T, which is things like plastic water bottles, which has the most value in recycling, but they don’t want the rest. But we’ve sent all of it to them and they have no way of managing it. So it often ends up in the environment and can make its way out into the ocean. That’s been addressed when China finally said no to us because they were getting too much. That’s been very difficult because what do we do with it now? But to me, I I applauded it because I thought, yes, it is going to get worse, but nothing is going to make us address a problem. Then suddenly being told to deal with it ourselves. So I think Malaysia is now saying, no, I’m not sure about Indonesia, but more and more countries are saying, look, we don’t want this. You have to deal with it. And in my view, the way to deal with it is to reduce it significantly and stop using that. Just stop considering items to be single. You start to value them. [90.3s]

JEREMY [00:44:18]32. IT IS TRUE THAT IN A WORLD WERE EVERY COUNTRY HAS TO KEEP ITS OWN MATERIALS THAT NEED RECYCLING, WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO START BY REDUCING THE AMOUNT OF MATERIALS BEING RECYCLED IN THE FIRST PLACE. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:45:05]As far as plastic goes. Recycling to me as an absolute last resort. I think it comes off to reduce, reuse, redesign, replace, rethink all of those. It’s better than it going into landfill. It’s better than it going into the ocean or anywhere in the environment. But it isn’t recycling. That recycling kind of conjures up the idea that it keeps going through, you know, a continuous killer process with arsenic. It doesn’t. And there’s all sorts of ideas that people have, you know, once it reaches the black stage or we can cover our rates with it. But the latest science on plastic fibres getting into the ocean, 28 percent of them of micro plastics, 28 per cent of them is coming from car tyres, which, of course, are now made with it with a plastic rubber mix and. As the cart wears down, as the tyres wear down, they go straight into the drains and out. Well, if we might start making our roads out of plastic. That surely is going to make the problem much worse. But worse than that is the new information. The new science is being done on nano plastics when they’ve broken up and they’re so small that they actually go up into the atmosphere. So if we’re stretching plastic out in the sunshine and making me not so much in this country, but in countries where you get lots of sand, if they were covering all their roads with black plastic, imagine how many more of these other plastics are going to be getting up into the atmosphere. And we just don’t know how dangerous those are. If we’re breathing them in and they’re falling down in the rainwater and we know that’s happening. [89.3s] [00:46:35]0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:40:29]0.1s]

JEREMY [00:40:29]30. THIS IS WHERE INNOVATION HAS TO PLAY A ROLE TO INVENT BIODEGRADABLE PACKAGING THAT HAS MANY OF THE PROPERTIES THAT PLASTIC OFFERS, BUT THAT CAN BE IMMEDIATELY BROKEN DOWN TO AVOID NANO PARTICLES ETC, BUT EVEN HERE JO IS ABOUT TO SHATTER MY ILLUSIONS ABOUT THE IMPACT OF MANY OF THESE AT THE MOMENT. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:40:29]I think that biodegradable plastics certainly have a role to play. The problem around them is they are very confusing. I’ve actually got a bag that I take around with me. It looks like a plastic bag and it has a big sign on it saying degrade a ball bag or what does that mean? Everything will will degrade. What they’ve often done is actually mixed plastic with plant material. So the plant breaks breaks down naturally and that leaves you with a little flakes of plastic safe thinking. Isn’t it magical? My bags disappearing? That’s one of the issues. The other is making plastic items out of, for example, cornstarch. They look just like plastic, but we don’t have a way at the moment, no infrastructure to recognize them, to label them properly, to separate them and provide a way to take them away. People think, oh, they’re compostable, they can just get buried in landfill. Well, actually, the compostable plastics need at least 60 degrees centigrade in heat and they need oxygen. Otherwise, they won’t break down that because they’re not labelled properly. People look at them and think, oh, this is plastic. I’ll do the right thing. I’ll put it in the plastic recycling. Well, the minute that goes into that batch, the entire batch is contaminated and can’t be cycled. So we do have a lot of the answers we need to make them work. [75.4s]

JEREMY [00:41:45]31. THAT IS REALLY CHALLENGING WHAT I BELIEVED WAS A GREAT IDEA TO HAVE BIO DEGRADABLE PACKAGING, SO IS THERE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD WHERE THE END TO END SYSTEM ALLOWS THESE FANTASTIC NEW MATERIALS TO DO THERE THING?. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:41:45]the one place I’ve seen those working well is Vancouver Aquarium, where they use veg wear and veg where is made from corn starch. The people that make it bring it to the aquarium. All of their catering uses veg where those same people then collect it and take it to the city’s industrial compost. And not many cities have those. So, you know, whilst we’re thinking we’re doing the right thing with something compostable, often that’s not really the case. There are new ones being developed all the time, which I have a lot of hope for. But at the moment, it’s not working. [30.2s]

JO RUXTON [00:42:15][0.0s]

JEREMY [00:32:04]24. WE ARE TALKING HERE ABOUT THE PRICE OF CONVENIENCE, OR RATHER REDEFINING THE CONVENIENCE ECONOMY AND GESTURES. IF WE REVERSE A LITTLE, AND NOT EVEN ALOT, COMPLETE CONVIENCE WE CAN PROBABLY REDUCE PLASTIC USE QUIETE CONSIDERABLY. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:32:30]I think we’ve been so used to this convenient lifestyle, I mean, many times I’ve used something like a coffee stir without even thinking about it. So awareness has made people come up with alternatives and has made people think about what they’re doing. And certainly if they can see a film and see the significant impact that plastic is having on the environment and the threat to their own health, then your you’re well on the way to creating change. [26.6s] 

JEREMY [00:33:05]25. BUT I KNOW JO IS NOT COMPLETLY ANTI PLASTIC AS REALISTICALLY WE DO NEED PLASTIC IN OUR LIVES. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:47:28]0.1s] [00:47:28]Don’t get me wrong, by the way, plastic isn’t isn’t the enemy here. I mean, in medicine, you cannot put a value on the lives that plastic would have solved. And I include in that two of my granddaughters who were born prematurely, who were breathing through plastic tubes that were changed all the time, fed through plastic tubes, given their medications through plastic tubes to reduce the risk of any infection that the little girls might not be in my life. Were it not for plastic. But it’s this idea of the single use, this disposable, convenient lifestyle that has to be redressed and it’ll save us money as well. [35.5s] [00:48:04][0.0s]

JEREMY [00:33:13] 26. THE FIRST STEP IS MAKING PEOPLE AWARE, AND AS THIS PODCAST IS ABOUT PEOPLE WHO ARE TAKING ACTION, WE CAN SEE THAT JO HAS TAKEN ACTION TO MAKE A FILM THAT BROUGHT THE ISSUE TO LIFE TO MILLIONS OF PEOPLE,AND ESPECIALLY THE YOUNG. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:33:13]I think maple making people aware of the problem so that they can visually to understand it is a very big step in the right direction. I think that children are hugely powerful in this in this fight that we have on our hands now because they’re young, they’re like sponges. They haven’t lived the convenient lifestyle that we have. They are open to change. They’re open to new ideas. And when you tell them about the problem and they get it straight away, there’s no question. And certainly I gave a talk at the Assembly of Primary Kids recently with a friend of mine who was also doing a talk. And at the end of that, the. And it was only a 20 minute presentation to young kids. The catering manager came up to me and said, look, I’m not going to stop selling bottled water in this school because it brings a profit of ten thousand pounds a year. And I need that. And I thought, well, I’m not going to start talking about, you know, what price do we put on the oceans or the rest of it? Sometimes you just have to hope that some thing else will happen. And in this case, it did, because the teacher told us the following term that since that talk, not one child had bought the water. So the children will embarrass the adults into understanding. And they really do get it and they bully their parents and say, why are you doing this? So I think there’s so many ways we do it through education. We do it through awareness, we do it through legislation as well. [90.4s]

JEREMY [00:34:43]27. JO MENTIONED LEGISLATION AND OF COURSE THE FASTEST WAY TO CHANGE BEHAVIOURS ON A MASS SCALE IS FOR GOVERNEMENTS TO LEGISLATE TO BAN THINGS. I AM INTERESTED TO KNOW IF JO THINKS THAT POLITICIANS WILL ACT. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:34:46]There’s not been any question about this with all the politicians that I’ve spoken to and I’ve spoken in parliaments in different countries as well. And it’s an instant thing. It’s like, goodness me, of course, we’ve got to do that. I didn’t even realize. I see. And I go and buy albatross, stomach content jars, and you can’t argue with those. So I think it’s it’s a combination of things. And then there’s innovation and people will come up with ideas and refill shops will crop up and and we will. We will be it’ll be easier, easier for everybody to find alternatives. And those alternatives will also make them think it’s just like charging five pence for a plastic bag. In many cases, it’s not the five pencils, but putting people on. It’s just that they completely forgotten. Didn’t think about it. And you know that that came down so much in the first year. [45.8s]

JEREMY [00:36:11]28. THIS CONVERSATION HAS REINVIGORATED OUR DETERMINATION TO DIAL BACK ON THINGS DESIGNED FOR CONVENIENCE, WHICH ARE VERY HELPFUL, BUT WHICH IF WE WERE TO GO BACK IN TIME A LITTLE, NOT A LONG WAY, AND NOT TO A WAY THAT MEANS SACRIFICING ON THE QUALITY OF THE ACTUAL PRODUCT, WE CAN REDUCE THE PLASTICS WE USE. THIS PODCAST IS ABOUT UNCOVERING THE BIG HUGE INNOVATIONS THAT COMPANIES NEED TO DO ON OUR BEHALF TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR US TO REDUCE OUR EMISSIONS, BUT IT IS ALSO ABOUT GETTING SIMPLE PRACTICAL TIPS AND TRICKS FROM OUR GUESTS ON ACTIONS WE CAN TAKE TOMORROW. SO I SUSPECT JO MIGHT HAVE A FEW, AND SHE DOES.  [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:36:11]Another one is to go back to solids so you don’t need a new plastic bottle every time the soap runs out. Solids site last longer. It’s cheaper. Smells great. Gets you clean as well. And that’s the whole point of soap. I’ve also rediscovered the joy. Well, there you go. I rediscover the joy of storing soap in amongst my clothes and they all smell lovely. So that’s another thing you can do with a plastic bottle when you’re buying butter. When you’re buying butter. Buy it wrapped in paper. You don’t need a new butter dish every time the the butter runs out. You can use. Yeah. Just do a biro amnesty. At least get refilling all bonds or discover how wonderful your writing becomes when you use a fountain. A fountain pen. That’s something else you could buy crystal deodorant which works just as good as any deodorant, but it’s much more natural. It’s better for you. And the crystal will last about two and a half years so you can get those in healthy shops and sunsets. [62.3s] [00:37:19]And the other thing I would suggest is. It is literally a crystal that you wet and use in your armpits instead of your normal on or spray deodorant. And it has exactly the same effect as a normal one. But there’s no aluminium being used. And if you can buy them plastic or you can just buy the crystal on its side. But even if you do buy it in a plastic holder, you’re not going to keep replacing it because that that piece of crystal will last so long. So it’s. Yes, it is. It’s a really good thing. Well, I know I was just going to say. [36.5s]

JO RUXTON [00:48:32[0.1s] [00:48:32]}Yeah, absolutely. And cigarette lighters. That’s another one, you know, whatever you use your lighters for. Go back to the old Zippo so that you can refill or even use matches or just just a light that you can refill it with gas. You know that we don’t have to throw them away as soon as they’ve run out. [14.2s] [00:48:47][0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:38:00]You know, what can you do to reduce your plastic footprint? So you go to Plastic Nations, DOT UK, there’s there’s areas of how you can get involved. [7.0s]

JEREMY [00:38:07]29. YOU MENTIONED THAT KIDS ARE VERY OPEN TO EMBRACING DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY FROM THE START, IS THIS SOMETHING THAT JO CAN OFFER GUIDES TO TEACHERS FOR EXAMPLE TO HELP THEM EXPLAIN WHAT IS GOING ON. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:38:11]We have some fantastic teaching materials which include clips from the film and everything a teacher would need from age 4 to 16. And we’re creating new ones all the time. There’s also some a flip. Fact sheets, lots of information you can get on there. And if you’re interested in science, we have a really good document called The Science Behind the Film. So it’s 80 pages with 20 pages of references. Everything’s been peer reviewed. There’s no sensationalist because we’re very much an avid evidence based charity. So I hope that would answer all the questions that come through. [32.1s]

JO RUXTON [00:52:49]They have everything they want, right from the PowerPoint to the worksheets. So as teachers start looking for these things, they will find them. And certainly they go to our Web site. They know that it’s clearly scientifically and factually accurate. They’re not to start talking about great Pacific garbage patches and so on. [15.6s]

JEREMY [00:53:05]33. THIS HAS BEEN AN INCREDIBLE CONVERSATON WITH SO MANY MIND OPENING FACTS BUT ALSO LOTS OF PRACATICAL THINGS WE CAN ALL DO AND DO TOMORROW. [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:47:08 [0.2s] [00:47:08]Just guessing that basic knowledge and talent and people finding out if there’s three things that they can do. And each of them tells 10 people than they do three things. If we have a whole lot of people just doing one or two things, that’s much more effective than very few people trying to live completely plastic free lines. [18.1s] [00:47:27 [0.0s]

JEREMY [00:53:05]34. THERE IS CERTAINLY ALSO LOTS TO DOWN LOAD FROM JO’S WEBSITE SO LET ME THANK JO FOR HER TIME AND ASK HER TO TELL US HER WEBSITE ADDRESS: [0.0s]

JO RUXTON [00:53:11]It’s plastic Oceans.co.uk. [0.4s]