UK Agency: Stop Contributing to Plastic Pollution

Target: Michael Gove, United Kingdom Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Goal: Demand UK environmental agency cease contributing to the pollution of our oceans.

Imagine endless fields of plastic cups stretched as far as the eye can see… enough cups to leave a battalion of landfills brimming over. During the past five years, the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has contributed two and a half million disposable cups to the world’s pollution. Recently, they ordered an additional 516,000. This prioritized purchase might raise eyebrows for any organization. The fact that the department given the responsibility of fighting pollution and other means of environmental harm contributes so egregiously to the very problem it should be deterring is more than surprising, however. It is unconscionable.

Plastic pollution does not simply desecrate the beauty of a landscape. For wildlife, these seemingly harmless products can mean death. An estimated 90 percent of birds flying over the sea have consumed plastic, leading to detrimental health effects. The impact on other forms of aquatic wildlife can be equally dangerous because much of disposable plastic will eventually find its way into major water sources, where it will decompose and contaminate the water. In fact, experts believe that just roughly a quarter of plastics in the UK will ever see the light of a recycling facility. The rest will flow into the environment, potentially damaging any living thing that may cross the contaminant’s path, including humans.

As a result of these harmful effects, campaigns against plastic pollution have gained steam, particularly in the UK. Ironically, the environment department’s recently appointed head Michael Gove cited plastic pollution as an urgent problem for the word’s oceans. Sign this petition and demand that DEFRA practice what it preaches by ending the wholesale promotion and use of disposable plastic cups.


Dear Mr. Gove,

In response to the revelation about DEFRA’s excessive purchase of plastic cups, your spokesman stated a commitment to limiting unnecessary waste within the department. The greater issue, however, is the amount of not just unnecessary but dangerous waste you are unleashing into the environment.

Records indicate that DEFRA uses about 1,400 disposable cups per day. Think about where these cups are ultimately being ‘disposed.’ Their likely destination will be the very oceans you recently proclaimed were urgent victims of plastic pollution. Every day, the vast amounts of plastic filling waterways puts untold numbers of living things, from birds to fish to human beings, at imminent risk. When you are working with your suppliers for a solution, please keep these realities in mind. Cutting is good. Promoting recycling is great. But true elimination of the problem will require more immediate, proactive steps.

We urge you to reassess the place that harmful products such as this will have in your organization: an agency tasked with the responsibility of protecting and upgrading—not degrading—the environment and all its living forms.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Gary Bell

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  1. We humans are causing so much destruction to the planet and to all of its species. We really should start treating it better or one day, we might be the ones destroyed.

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