A Plastic Free Day championed by a Hampshire firefighter is now being rolled out nationally.
The awareness event aims to highlight how much disposable plastic people use in their daily lives.
It was inspired by an episode of Blue Planet and will take place on Sir David Attenborough’s birthday – Tuesday, May 8.
Government statistics show that only 45% of plastic packaging waste is recovered or recycled in the UK which leads to more than 1.3 million tonnes to be disposed of every year.
The project was spearheaded by HFRS resilience station manager Alex Rhodes, who also works on the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).
“Plastic products are damaging the planet and we clearly cannot wait for all members of the industry to clean up their act unless the public demand it.
“Discarded packaging is polluting the ocean, killing wildlife and damaging the environment when it is burnt – as well as causing accidental waste fires.
“Our Plastic Free Day is to raise awareness, reduce the amount of plastic packaging used and let people know how important the choices they make can be.”
He went on to say while he is championing the project the idea first came from his son Ethan, aged eight, and his friends from Hook with Warsash CofE Academy. Pupils have created colourful posters to promote the event.
In addition to HFRS and NFCC other organisations have vowed to back the campaign including Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.
It has also been supported by Fareham-based Lime Juice Web Design, Hampshire County Council’s My School Lunch, International Fire Consultants (IFC) Group, The Wise House eco-firm in London, Sleek Boat Care and others.
The campaign is also being supported by SunSail and Alex will be taking part in the UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge (UKFSC) on one of the company’s vessels named Hampshire Zero.
People are being urged to reuse carrier bags or switch to cardboard or brown paper bags, choose loose fruit and vegetables, switch to a reusable water bottle and lunch box, use a thermal mug for coffee shop refills, refuse a straw and opt for glass bottles.
The canteen at HFRS HQ will also be going plastic free for the day.
Chief Fire Officer Neil Odin said:
“The use of plastic packaging is a serious issue that can only have dire consequences for the generations to come.
“Plastic Free Day is a poignant way to raise awareness of the problem and show that small behavioural changes can make a real difference.
“I am proud to support this as a service and proud that it is one of our team who has driven this ambitious plan forward."