In August, the government published the results of a rare survey. It was rare because it was the Treasury consulting the public and about plastic pollution. It was doubly rare because of the huge response: 162,000 submissions from individuals, businesses and campaign groups. The vast majority expressed support for much tougher government action, including measures to reduce demand for single-use plastics such as coffee cups and takeaway boxes, and encouraging greater use of recycled plastic in manufacturing.
The Prime Minister announced that the government would respond to the public will, which demonstrates a much wider point: public opinion counts. There’s no shortage of bad news on the environment, from recent reports on the rapid decline of UK wildlife and the scale of global plastic pollution, to the stark evidence of climate change this summer.
But the greatest hope of urgent change lies in people making their opinions known to those in power, through their actions and words. And that means people of all kinds, ages, political persuasions and temperaments. Not just ‘campaigners’ and ‘activists’.
Britain’s environment is especially vulnerable right now, as the battle rages over what kind of protection it will have after the UK leaves the EU, and whether international trade should trump our natural heritage. Fortunately, September provides some golden opportunities to act and speak up for Creation. For example:
The A Rocha family is growing in its conservation activities in response to plastic pollution, and a number of national organisations are participating in the International Coastal Clean-up weekend from 14-17th September. The British Coastal Clean-up is being organised by The Marine Conservation Society https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/greatbritishbeachclean. Join with fellow Christians in Australia, Kenya, Portugal and the USA, amongst other A Rocha organisations participating.
BBC wildlife presenter, Chris Packham is convening a Walk for Nature, in London on 22nd September. http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/news/the-peoples-walk-for-wildlife
And the A Rocha family is part of the global Season of Creation being celebrated by Christians of all denominations, from 1 September (the Day of Prayer for Creation) until 4 October. http://www.arocha.org/en/news/walking-together-in-the-season-of-creation/
As well as working for nature, all of these activities provide great opportunities for fun as a family or church group. It may be rare that a Treasury consultation inspires hope, but it shows us the value of taking every opportunity to raise our voices for nature.