As some of you know I love the water, and recently I was on my paddle board in the Solent and was shocked by what I was seeing. All around me were bits of plastic. Some were large; plastic bottles, crisp packets and sweet wrappers……but others were much smaller; cotton wool buds, beads and even bits of glitter! Its often when you are up close a personal with the water that you realise just how bad it is. Dis you know that for every person on this planet there are now about 900 pieces of visible plastic in our oceans?

Let’s pause for a moment. Take a deep breath in. Did you know that nearly 30% of the oxygen you are breathing comes from the oceans? There is a single phytoplankton with the highly unmemorable name of Procholorococcus that is responsible for creating almost all of the ocean’s oxygen. It is thought that 70% is created by just this one single-celled creature! It is tiny. 100 of these little plankton would fit side by side on the width of a human hair, and yet they are critical to our survival.

Last week I listened to a lead scientist who said “never mid the forests, if we lose our oceans we are in real trouble as a species”. For 200 years we have been tipping waste into the seas around the world. We have foolishly believed that the waste will disappear, because the seas are so big. But we are now paying the price for our collective stupidity. From areas of plastic the size of Texas to a million dead sea birds each year (through ingesting the stuff); our oceans are struggling to survive. And the risk in the next 10-15 years is that we start to lose some of the building blocks to life. If our seas are unable to continue to produce oxygen at the current levels because of increased acidity or rising temperatures, we are indeed in deep waters……

But there is still time to act. As residents of a coastal county; with some amazing shorelines and beaches we can each of us make a difference. So here are my three P’s for making our county a leader in ocean conservation.

1) PLASTIC: please ditch single use plastic!! Its time to get rid of plastic single use water bottles (we don’t need them!), crisp packets that cant be recycled, cosmetics with micro plastics in them and tooth brushes with batteries that can’t easily be recycled. We need to move beyond plastic carrier bags and start boycotting all goods that contain non-recyclable plastics.

2) PRACTICAL ACTION: join the fight for our beaches and shores….in Hampshire, the Wildlife Trust, National Trust and Marine Conservation Society all organise beach cleans. Why not join in? As well as being a great way to help fight back against pollution-they are a good place to make new friends!

3) PETITION: write to your local MP and demand change to the way products are packaged. Meet with your local store managers and talk about the need to change. The more we stand up and say we have had enough, the more suppliers are forced to listen and act.

These are tough times for our seas; but together we can really make a lasting difference!