Invisible Dust

London | Tuesday 16 July
Pollution level: Moderate

20 Drinking Fountains: Mayor Sadiq Khan proposes a 3 year initiative to tackle London’s plastic



Whilst the memorable phrase has produced an impressive response in reusing and recycling since America’s 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act launched the slogan, we’re still not seeing much ‘reducing’. Internationally, many artists have made incredible works out of recycled plastic, such as Tomás Saraceno’s “Becoming Aerosolar”, a solar powered hot air balloon made of plastic bags, or the giant fish made of recycled plastic bottles, exhibited as part of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development on Bofotogo Beach, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.(Rio+20).

tomas-saraceno-becoming-aerosolar-plastic-bag-hot-air-balloonPhoto Source: Aerocene

plastic fish in RioPhoto Source: Because Water

Yet as breathtaking and awareness-raising as these works may be, they don’t stop the incredibly undegradable material from clogging up our oceans, landfills, rivers and coastlines, with highly destructive results. Which is why we’re so excited to learn about the Mayor of London’s new plan to reduce one-use plastic (such as throw away plastic water bottles, straws and coffee cup lids) across the capital. According to the Guardian:

“Twenty new drinking fountains will be installed across London in a pilot scheme starting this summer, while a bottle-refill initiative, in which businesses make tap water available to the public, will be set up across five areas of the capital over February and March. If successful, it will be rolled out to the rest of the city in the summer. Plastic cups, bottles and cutlery will also no longer be available at City Hall under the plans.

The plans are part of a proposed three-year, £750,000 initiative from the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to tackle plastic waste in the capital, and will be put before the London Assembly’s budget committee on Thursday.”

Even though this is just a start, it’s one to watch out for and be excited about as years of talk about reducing plastic waste are finally materialising into policy and political environmental action. And not a moment too soon. The Telegraph recently announced that ‘for every 100m of British beach, there are over 200 plastic or polystyrene items’ and Science Magazine released a report last summer estimating ‘8.3bn tonnes of plastic has been produced to date. Of this, 6.3bn tonnes of plastic is now waste – a majority of which, some 79 percent, is in landfill or the natural environment.’

The Telegraph concludes: ‘It is estimated that there is now a 1:2 ratio of plastic to plankton and, left unchecked, plastic will outweigh fish by 2050.’ We hope that London’s 2018 drinking fountains will be a step towards increasing liveable conditions for Britain’s land, sky and marine populations, and a step away from increasing one-use plastic, which even as a recycled art material, may outlive the fish themselves.

**For the dystopia-lovers out there, check out Prasetyo Plastics by D.A. Xiaolin Spires, free online, edited and published by Clarkesworld Magazine last year, on the fearful and fantastical possibilities of a plastic filled future

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