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Plastic Britain: On Our Watch

In March this year, Sea-Changers gave a grant of £1000 to Plastic Britain to help fund an important new documentary called 'Plastic Britain: On Our Watch'. Poppy Chandler has sent her update of their work and progress with the film to date.

'Crossing the border from England to Scotland at dusk was breath-taking, the first signs of Autumn were beginning to creep in and over head was a V shaped skein of Canadian Geese, as we headed to our bunkhouse for the night it felt incredible to have finally arrived - we’ve been making “Plastic Britain: On Our Watch” for a year and getting to Scotland was something we’d been working towards for nine months.

‘Plastic Britain: On Our Watch’ is a feature length environmental documentary that investigates the negative impact plastic pollution is having in Britain, while also exploring some the most innovative solutions being developed to tackle this environmental disaster before it’s too late.

We’ve journeyed across the U.K for the film, due to be released next year, to feature the work of Britain's Scientific community leading the way on the issue, often with globally significant research. We’ve filmed with campaign groups such as Surfers Against Sewage, City to Sea and Greenpeace, we’ve been on many beach and river cleans to feature the work of the growing army of beach cleaners doing an incredible clean up effort, in what can sometimes seem a thankless task. Having financed the majority of the film ourselves, to get us to Scotland we applied to Sea-Changers for a grant and we were over the moon when Helen contacted us with the news we’d been successful! The implications for the film would be huge and it was a financial break we desperately needed.

Our time in Scotland would still be tight, and for the duration we’d be praying for good weather! In planning the shoot, we had to ensure we hit the window when the Basking Sharks would be there - with the knowledge the previous year the research team we’d be working with hadn’t seen any - but not too late so that the seabirds would have migrated for the year. The joys and excitement of filming wildlife!

Scotland is home to spectacular Seabird cities, most notably the world-famous Bass Rock, the biggest colony of Northern Gannets in the world. But also there are Puffins, Razor Bills, Shags, Fulmars to name a few - tragically we now know that over 90% of seabirds have ingested plastic. While British seabirds may not contain the vast quantities of plastic, often seen in media headlines, with their stomachs bursting, it only takes one piece of plastic to kill a bird - a fact we were sadly reminded of while filming a necropsy of a Fulmer.

In Scotland we were following the Basking Sharks - the second largest fish in the world, an animal often forgotten as being resident in both Cornwall and Scotland for the British Summer period - and a team of researchers as they monitored and investigated the possible effects of micro-plastics on these huge and majestic filter feeders. I’m very happy to report that we were blessed with multiple sharks on our trip and some interesting scientific data. Scotland also provided us with the opportunity to follow the research happening into commercially important fish and the uptake of micro-plastics. None of this would have been possible without the support of Sea-Changers.

We’ve always wanted the film to be a celebration of the wonderful diversity of wildlife and beauty of nature we have on own doorstep in the U.K, to remind us all what we are working together to save. Being in Scotland felt like being in Britain’s last wilderness and gave us the chance to capture this with breath-taking aerials and wildlife.

Greenpeace suggests Britain has shipped more than 2.7 million tonnes of plastic waste to China and Hong Kong since 2012 – until China imposed a ban on imports at the beginning of this year - and with the amount of plastic in the ocean set to triple in a decade unless litter is seriously curbed, this problem is simply not going to disappear. I think it’s too easy to look at plastic in the ocean and think: ‘It’s not really our problem’ or ‘if it is our problem, [other countries] have got a worse problem than us’. As the biggest users of singles use plastic in Europe and with 16 million plastic bottles being dumped everyday, Britain has a major role to play in being part of the solution. Never has there been a more important or urgent time for this documentary.

There is a massive change of attitude in Britain, we’ve seen it first hand everywhere we’ve been over the last year, a galvanized attitude of people wanting to see positive and meaningful change and solutions to this environmental disaster we’re facing. Unfortunately though it is still so hard to get funding for this type of film. So to help us complete the documentary, we’re now reaching out to fellow ocean lovers, environmentalists, people to join the fight against plastic pollution and asking them to help us with our crowd-funder, which we’re running here:

If you’d like to watch the taster of the film or learn more about the documentary we’re making here’s a link to the website and you can follow the films journey on social media:


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