Halfway through the challenging year of 2020, one would hope the world already learnt its lessons. That we should invest in health care systems more than we do in nuclear weapons. That we have to act as quick as possible instead of watching other countries struggle and then panic when the same issue knocks on our doors. But most importantly, that our planet does not need us to thrive, on the contrary, she is better off without us. While we wait for the world to open up again, the waters are clearing up, the air forgets about pollution and the trees breathe more freely. Will our relationship with nature be reconsidered while nations push the wheel of the economy back to its place? I desperately hope so, as does Coren Munday, a former master’s degree student of Health and Communication Development here, at DMU, and an environmental activist and the founder of SeaForYourself, a bamboo cutlery company, where she fights the use of plastic every day. 

It was in 2018 when Coren, on her first trip to Bali, realised how far from reality the touristic ads sometimes are, and how big of a problem plastic pollution is. Millions of plastic pieces washed up on beaches, so many that, ‘picking a bag full wouldn’t have made an impact’. 

I don’t think we can ever be completely plastic-free with everything coming wrapped in it, from food to the clothing we buy. I do think, however, that small changes, collectively, have a big impact on our environment. It’s all about where you start,” says Coren.

This idea of change helped Coren to create a company that aims to make an environmental difference. In October 2019, within the privacy of her own bedroom in Hertfordshire, Coren made her first step in building the SeaForYourself legacy. As she assures, from the packaging to the product, nothing contains any single-use plastics. Moreover, Coren uses freight shipping to deliver her cutlery from Asia, not air freight, which minimises the impact on the ecosystem even more. 

“I am not hoping to resolve the issue of plastic pollution overnight, but my products and my social platforms are aimed at people who struggle to step back from the disposable lifestyle.”

Swapping one-use plastic cutlery to its sustainable alternative is a good start in leading an environmentally-aware lifestyle. As Coren says, ‘this process does not have to be extreme or break the bank.’ Starting with replacing plastic bottles, bags and toothbrushes with their eco-friendly alternatives, going further with shopping at your local markets and zero-waste shops, all of those initiatives result in reducing your plastic footprint to a minimum.

‘My single action won’t make a difference’ is probably rolling through your mind right now. As Coren explains, individuals do not have a chance to see the bigger picture of the change that reducing plastic from their lives makes globally. But it doesn’t mean there is no change at all. 

“Consumer giants will definitely notice the difference when we stop buying products wrapped in plastic,” says Coren. “For example, when the 5p carrier bag was introduced in 2015 consumers noticed a 90% decrease in their purchase, preventing many plastic bags from ending up in landfill or being found in oceans and lakes.”  

Cutting off our relationship with plastic is not the only way we can contribute to the health of our planet. Numerous fundraisers and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) are actively campaigning against plastic reality, waiting for any, even the smallest donation, to make their voices loud enough for politicians and wealthy businessmen to hear. 

“SeaForYourself gives 20p from every sale to an organisation of our choice that helps reduce plastic. We are choosing a new cause every three months to support more than just one activist group. We also provide those groups with publicity on our social media. These are always NGOs who rely on donations to support their cause. As a long-term goal, we would like to support one NGO with the running of more campaigns.”

But Coren’s company does not stop at providing sustainable cutlery and supporting environmental institutions. She decided to use the power of social media to take another step in convincing people that a plastic-free life is possible if we all try hard enough.

“Our campaign is a virtual clean up until the end of 2020. Starting from Wednesday 17th June, I set my followers the task of collecting rubbish within a mile or more of their own home. To spread plastic pollution awareness, and show their support, they had to take a picture holding the rubbish they collected, and the number of miles they have done tagging SeaForYourselfco on social media. My aim is for us all to collectively walk the distance around the world collecting rubbish! That is 24,901 miles!” 

Every piece of plastic ever produced still exists across the world somewhere. This could be broken down into microplastic, which is harming our marine life.

Since the 1950s, around 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide.

73% of beach litter worldwide is plastic, including bottles, cigarette butts and food packaging.

1 million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute.

Plastic is killing more than 1.1 million seabirds and animals every year.

These are facts that worry Coren (and me as well) as they can get even worse if the world does not act now. These are facts that cannot be denied by making climate change an ‘ideology’ or plastic pollution activists’ work just an ‘exaggeration’. We have to wake up before it’s too late to realise that we have to change our way of living to live at all in the next couple of decades. 

Let’s put an end to the mistakes the previous generations made. Let’s show the next generation that this planet is our home and we have to take care of it, collectively, from its foundations up to its roof. 

For more info about the SeaForYourself campaign visit @seaforyourselfco on Instagram

To buy Coren’s beautiful bamboo cutlery go to https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SeaForYourselfco