07 Jan Local Organisations Unite in the Fight Against Plastic
With anti-plastic sentiment at an all-time high and the environmental scourge of plastic now a hot topic on the political agenda, people are becoming ever more aware of the harm plastic can cause to our environment. Equally alarming is the devastating effect plastic is having on wildlife. Videos depicting harrowing scenes of animals desperately thrashing about in attempts to release themselves from the sinister grip of some seemingly innocuous piece of packaging, or images of dead animals whose stomachs are bursting with refuse, have become common viewing across our news sites and social media, evoking a horrified response from us, the incredulous culprits.
We were very pleased to catch up with local animal charity RSPCA North Wiltshire, as well as local organisations Swindon Climate Action Network (SCAN) and Swindon Street Reps, who are doing wonderful work to raise awareness and help reduce plastic waste in the locality. On Sunday a group of keen volunteers gathered at Pinehurst to help at a litter pick arranged by the partnering organisations. We spoke to Jody Higgins from RSPCA North Wilts, who told us that the harm caused to wildlife, birds and other animals by plastic and other waste products has created a serious issue for local animal charities like theirs.
Nationally, the RSPCA receives more than 5,000 calls a year about animals affected by litter. Jody told us “We are pleased to get behind SCAN to raise awareness on this really important issue. I don’t think many people realise just how big the problem of littering is in terms of the threat it causes to wildlife and other animals”.
Everyday objects that may seem perfectly safe, if found accidentally by animals can be very hazardous when not disposed of correctly. Plastic waste like carrier bags and plastic can holders can be extremely harmful with animals getting tangled or stuck inside them, causing extreme distress and sometimes suffocation. Animals can also get cut on or ingest bits of littered plastic causing them to choke or be seriously injured.
RSPCA North Wilts advise in the case of finding an injured wild animal, to firstly observe how badly it is hurt and then, if it’s safe to catch and handle, to take it to a nearby vet or wildlife centre. It’s advisable to wear gloves when handling unknown animals and to transport them in a cardboard box with ventilation holes. If the animal is trapped or you are unable to transport it yourself, get in contact with your local animal rescue service.
In 2017 the RSPCA responded to hundreds of calls about injured wildlife, with a significant number of these cases involving litter. Jody highlights “What’s even more tragic than the animals that are treated for litter related injuries is the number of injured wildlife that get seriously hurt and are never found”.
By taking steps to reduce our plastic waste, and by disposing our rubbish responsibly instead of littering we are making choices that could literally be lifesaving. To clean up the environment and save animals today, we urge you to get involved with the anti-plastic movement. By making just a small effort in your local area you can really help reduce the risk to local animals and help raise awareness of the important work being carried out by organisations like Swindon Climate Action Network and RSPCA North Wilts.