The new issue of Positive News magazine, out today, features a cover story about the people who are turning around society’s addiction to plastic. Editor Lucy Purdy introduces the issue and asks: could we be moving towards plastic extinction?
Are we approaching a tipping point when it comes to plastic? Awareness around plastic pollution has ballooned in recent months. It feels that, collectively, we can no longer stomach the impact it’s having on the environment and on the health of animals, maybe on our health too.
In what one commentator described as “an epic awakening”, a wave of people – from schoolchildren to surfers – are taking action. In this issue, we meet some of the grassroots pioneers; from the couple whose baby daughter inspired them to set up a zero-waste shop, to the woman on a mission to give shoppers a plastic-free choice.
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Whether you think a problem as big as plastics can ever be turned around or not, may be linked to how you view the state of the world. Is it really getting worse and worse? In the new issue of Positive News magazine, cognitive scientist and author Steven Pinker makes the case for progress. “As we care about more of humanity,” he writes, “we’re apt to mistake the harms around us for signs of how low the world has sunk rather than how high our standards have risen.”
Even the murkiest, seemingly unsolvable problems can be broken down. In our feature on the global trade in illegal arms, we meet the team that’s using determination, detective work and hard data to track where weapons are coming from. Their aim is that governments and policymakers will use the information to stop arms ending up in the hands of terrorist groups.
Perseverance also runs through the story of Chrissy Chambers, the US YouTube star who hopes her long legal fight will inspire other victims of ‘revenge porn’. When her ex-boyfriend uploaded intimate videos of her to the internet, she felt “complete helplessness”. But now Chambers is helping improve understanding of, and action against, this relatively new crime.
Perhaps, in years to come, society will look back on 2018 as the year we started to get to grips with plastic pollution
Elsewhere, others too are drawing on their personal motivations to help reshape society for the better. One is Jacinda Ardern, the pregnant prime minister of New Zealand, whose partner will stay at home to look after their baby while she runs the country. She tells us how she aims to make New Zealand the best place in the world to have a child.
Another is Dan Parker, a former ad man who used to help junk food companies shift their products. He left a comfortable career to use his skills to tackle obesity instead. Also in this issue is the conservationist Diogo Veríssimo, who wants as many people as possible to know about the animals, birds and insects that have been rediscovered after once being thought extinct.
Perhaps, in years to come, society will look back on 2018 as the year we started to get to grips with plastic pollution. Will the idea of using a non-biodegradable material like plastic eventually seem archaic? As Pinker reminds us: “Bad things can happen quickly, but good things aren’t built in a day.”
I hope this issue helps recalibrate your sense of what’s possible.
No plastic, fantastic: the making of the magazine cover
This issue’s cover star is Nicola Eckersley, co-founder of the Earth.Food.Love zero-waste shop in Totnes, Devon. The shop – which Nicola runs with her husband, former professional footballer Richard Eckersley – sells only ethical goods that are free from packaging. You can read their story here.
For the magazine cover, Nicola was photographed for Positive News by Gareth Iwan Jones. Photographer Tara Moore then printed the photo and collated it with some of the products sold at the Earth.Food.Love shop, as well as a beeswax food wrap from BeeBee Wraps. Tara (who also photographed the cover image for issue 89 of Positive News magazine) then photographed the whole collage to create the final magazine cover image.
This article is featured in issue 93 of Positive News magazine. Subscribe now to get the magazine delivered to your door each quarter.