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Graduate students launch a new initiative to reduce the use of single-use plastic across the MRC WIMM.

WGSA committee members leading by example

This month, the MRC WIMM Graduate Student Association (WGSA) is encouraging students and staff to avoid single-use plastic, such as plastic cups, straws, single-use plastic bags and bottles. The motivation for this initiative originated from recent articles highlighting the need for real change to avoid a ‘climate catastrophe’, but also the personal experience of members of the WGSA. In particular, one of the graduate students recollects her experience when visiting the famous Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory for a science summer course.

NOvemberNOplastic poster“People there told me, especially sea captains, that plastic can be found everywhere in the sea, even in the furthest points from the shore”- explained the student “The whole town was very respectful of the ocean, and were trying very hard to prevent plastic pollution as much as they could”.

Single-use plastics can impact on wildlife and the environment in many ways. It can be mistaken for food by animals who feed on them, often with dramatic consequences. But the impact will also be felt by us directly. Plastic is not fully degraded, and is rather converted into microsplastic and nanoplastic that can travel through the food chain to the fish on our dinner tables and ultimately our own bodies.

Inspired by the European Parliament’s commitment to ban single-use plastics, such as plastic cutlery and straws, the WGSA decided to bring change to the MRC WIMM this month.

“We want to encourage MRC WIMM staff, students and PIs to think twice before getting that plastic cup instead of a glass one available in the canteen, putting a straw into a milkshake or getting a take-away coffee in a single-use cup. As a student committee, we acknowledge that our laboratory work already requires a lot of single-use plastic consumption (eppendorf tubes, pipette tips, etc) that is much harder to circumvent, but choosing a glass bottle over a plastic cup is not a hard task”, explains the WGSA committee “At the moment our main goal is to raise awareness of the issue. We want to see how this initiative is received and we welcome any feedback and suggestions for the future.”

The student association encourages those supporting this initiative to share their thoughts and experiences on social media using the hashtag #NOvemberNOplastic