It’s been exciting to partner with Selfridges Project Ocean over the last month, trying to be part of the sea change to reduce plastic pollution in our oceans. Now in its fifth year, Project Ocean 2015 has three key pledges:
1- To encourage people to use less plastic, centred around the promotion of the reusable water bottle and water fountains rather than one off disposable plastic bottles.
2- To ensure that all the fish served in Selfridges is from sustainable sources.
3- To promote ‘donate as you dine’ in Selfridges restaurants, helping ZSL to expand the Selfridges Marine Reserve by 5 times, restore the UK’s oldest oyster beds and clean up 200 UK beaches.
I became truly engaged with the plastic problem a couple of years ago, after hosting a series of exhibitions at ONCA under the umbrella of INorganic – one of which was a supermarket recreated from plastic waste picked up off Brighton beach. Then, last November, I sailed across the Atlantic to see first hand the devastating amount of microplastic floating just underneath the ocean surface. Now, having attended Project Ocean’s series of events – and seen one of the biggest attempts to combat plastic pollution by a large scale retailer – I have learned that plastic, much like all our other environmental issues, isn’t a simple problem with a simple solution. It is not a question of just buying a reusable water bottle or placing your disposable one in the recycling. This helps of course, and I commend Selfridges for all that they are doing, and I recommend that everyone follow suit. However, the problem runs deeper than that, to the very core of how we locate ourselves on this planet and the stories that we tell about our position within it. We are part of a greater system – not above, beyond and outside it. If the ocean flounders, so will we. It’s environmental preservation, but self-preservation too. So go outside. Breathe the air. Taste the water. Go on a mini (or a massive) adventure. We cannot protect what we do not love and we cannot love what we do not feel connected to, so that’s my advice and that is what I am taking from Project Ocean 2015. Relish being a part of something larger than human, and throw yourself into this great creative challenge we are now facing – to readdress the balance and truly begin to restore an equilibrium that is within our grasp.
Laura will be leading ‘Art on the Edge’ in January 2016, a creative expedition on Pangaea Explorations marine research yacht Sea Dragon (currently to be seen in model version in Selfridges Ultralounge), learning about climate change and the challenges faced by Caribbean coastal communities due to rising sea levels. To find out more about joining this expedition, check out ‘Art on the Edge’ here.