You may have heard in the news this week of a dead sperm whale which washed ashore in eastern Indonesia. It was discovered that the whale had consumed a horrifying collection of plastic rubbish, including 115 drinking cups, 25 plastic bags, plastic bottles, 2 flip-flops and a bag containing more than 1000 pieces of string.
In all, the plastic contents of the whale’s stomach weighed 6 kilos. There is a theory that left-footed flip-flops tend to dominate as ocean currents drag them in a particular pattern, but this is probably an urban myth.
What is not an urban myth is the world’s relationship with rubbish, particularly plastic rubbish. Even here at the academy, we sometimes observe a casual, neglectful and thoughtless lack of pride in our environment. I have been consciously visible to students and adults in picking up litter and asking students to pick it up – I am aware that this is a long-term campaign but the message will get out there bit by bit if we all play our part. What does not help is the advertising around the costs of cleaning up after the Glastonbury Festival, for example. This just sends out the message that it is acceptable for adults to simply leave their rubbish for others to clean up.
Later this year I will lead assemblies on this but it will be easier to build an argument which is convincing if it comes after students have seen for themselves how committed we are to this. If we look out for our own small slice of the planet, surely this would have a knock-on effect more widely?