Use your power and join us for a Plastic Free July

Published on: 15 July 2021 Author: Onjali Q Raúf

Our Writer in Residence Onjali Q Raúf calls on us to use our consumer superpowers and help reduce the UK's use of plastic – which harms our planet and all the animals on it – through inspiring reading, action and change. 

Looking after our planet: illustration by Fiona Lumbers

'You’re a consumer. Use that power wisely.' - Anonymous

A few days ago, during an online school visit, a 7-year-old boy asked me what I would wish for if I could have just one wish granted. I answered: 'To have good leaders everywhere who really cared about all the different peoples of the world and respected their lives and histories and needs, and who didn’t care for power or money at all.'

Seeing the little one looking pensive, I pinged the question back to him, and asked him what he would wish for. Without a moment’s hesitation, he answered: 'I wish that there wasn’t any more plastic anywhere, so that all the animals could live and not get hurt.'

I know. (Moments like this explain why I always have tissues and extra eyeliner on standby at talks.)

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Huge numbers and plastic everywhere

Right now, according to the latest statistics, global corporations are producing over 380 billion tonnes of plastic every single year. With Britain contributing around 1.7 million tonnes alone. And despite efforts, less than 10 per cent is ever recycled –despite the pleas of climate change activists everywhere.

They are figures my imagination cannot even bear to comprehend, but which so many of our children know off by heart: for plastic pollution’s link with climate change is at the top end of their daily lists of worries.

The greatest problem is that plastic seems to be everywhere – from the wrapping of our daily supermarket foods to the pens we write our shopping lists with to chewing gum (yup!) and even our clothes and shoes. As a result, the issue seems huge, and those numbers too insurmountable for any of us to do anything about.

But as all movements in the past have proven, 1+1+1 can lead to infinite action and change. 

Time to use our consumer superpowers

So if you haven’t already, come join all of us at BookTrust as we take on the Plastic Free July challenge (not easy, but boy, what an eye-opener!): a global movement to raise awareness and help change our plastics habits for good.

But more than that, it is a reminder that each of us does have power – consumer power.

The more we buy, the more producers go on producing. The less we buy, the more that larger powers are forced to change their products. Such a power helped end slavery in the US and Britain too (sugar anyone?). And it is a power we should never forget we have.

Combine that with literally spreading the word through books and stories about how to help make our planet plastic-free, and what you have is an evergreen hope that we can make our kids’ wishes for a world of animals and humans not being harmed by plastics come true.

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Plastic Free July

As individuals, one of the biggest ways we can help tackle climate change and protect the environment is by ditching single use plastic... which is sometimes easier said than done!

Plastic Free July is a global challenge to help millions of people be part of the solution to the plastic pollution harming our planet. These are our top books to inspire and help you reduce your plastic waste...

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Writer in Residence

Our current Illustrator in Residence is Onjali Q Raúf, who is writing blogs, running competitions and giving us her unique perspective on the world of children's books.

Find out what she's been up to