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All rise for Sir David and his fight against pollution

Posted on 24 January 2018

Did you catch the National Television Awards last night?

Alongside the glitz, Ant and Dec winning their usual haul and screaming soap stars was recognition for Sir David Attenborough and the Blue Planet 2 team, who picked up the Impact Award for how the show has raised the public’s awareness and perception of the damage that plastic and pollution is doing to our oceans and planet.

To be honest, Sir David could probably talk for a literal hour about paint drying and I would still be mesmerised. So when he talks about something that ultimately affects us all, it’s impossible to not be glued to the screen.

When accepting the award, he said:

What we were all trying to do is to raise an issue that is of great importance to not only this country but worldwide – what we're doing to our planet.

If our television programmes have helped stirred the consciences of people around the world – and that we are going to do something to protect this beautiful world – then all of us will be very pleased.


The award featured a montage of what the show had discovered, including turtles trapped in nets, marine life trapped in carrier bags and plastic and debris floating in the sea like it belonged there. It was truly heart-breaking. And unlike EastEnders, Dr Foster or Broadchurch it was real life.

What was amazing about the show being recognised was how the message was delivered to millions of people by a public figure they trust. People took to social media – including myself – to say how in awe they are of David Attenborough and how at the grand age of 91 is still being the face of a cause that matters so much to us all.

(Not so) Plastic fantastic 

Plastic has been a hot topic for 2018 so far. Since the 5p carrier bag levy was brought into play in October 2015, it’s been estimated that single-use carrier bag usage has been reduced by 80%, an initiative that has been rolled out to more retail outlets.  With the ban on microbeads, plastic straws on their way out, supermarkets announcing their plans to wage a war on plastic for products sold in their stores and the governments recently published 25 Year Environment Plan that emphasises that more needs to be done, it seems that the message is getting through. 

The plan says that the Government is committed to a goal of zero avoidable waste in by 2050. But 32 years is a long way away. Blue Planet 2 shows the damage that we are doing to our planet right here, right now.

Local-led action 

So what can we do? What’s clear is that it’s our responsibility to do what we can on a local level, whether that’s actively choosing to not take a plastic straw, remembering your Bag for Life, taking a reusable cup to Costa to get your coffee fix. It’s the simple changes that have a big impact and ultimately pile on the pressure in order to force corporate organisations to make changes to what they offer us as consumers.

Groundwork’s 'Repurpose' project in London encourages communities to upcycle old furniture and goods to stop perfectly good items going to landfill. One of our youth programmes, 'Our Bright Future' is giving young people the tools to make positive changes in their local community that help to promote greener living and ultimately curb the effects of climate change. We have seen first-hand the changes that community groups and indivduals make up every single day to their local spaces and places. It can and does happen. 

I do think that the message is starting to sink in about the changes that need to be made. It’s important that changes are made on a global level to enable people to make better choices.

In the words of Sir David - "We have a responsibility, every one of us."

Are you inspired to do something in your local community to help create change? Check out Groundwork’s Top Ten Tips for creating a successful community project.

Post by Stacey Aplin, PR and Communications Officer