Although we’ve been producing huge amounts of plastic over many decades, it’s only quite recently that people have started to take notice. In the last few years, there’s been a growing public outcry and worldwide revolt against plastic.

This is actually a pretty new trend.

In 2016, a Greenpeace petition for a UK wide plastic microbeads ban hit 365,000 signatures in just four months, becoming the largest environmental petition ever presented to a government.

Protest groups from the US to South Korea have dumped piles of what they say is unwanted and excessive plastic packaging at supermarkets.

In 2018, angry customers protested by sending potato chip packets back to their manufacturers. They was so successful that the Postal Service was overwhelmed.

The Daily Mail, one of the first newspapers, to really start monitoring the plastic threat has noted that the newspaper has received more mail about plastic than any other environmental issue, even more than climate change.

The BBC series Blue Planet two posted a segment on the impact of plastic sea life, showing footage of a turtle hopelessly tangled in plastic netting and an albatross dead from shards of plastic lodged in her gut. The segment received more full more public reaction than anything else in the series.

Prince Charles has given speeches on the dangers of plastic, while Kim Kardashian has posted on Instagram, but the plastic crisis and claims who have given up giving up straws.

What’s surprising about the anti plastic movement is just how quickly it’s emerged. As recently as three years ago, plastic was in the same situation as climate change; everyone agreed it was bad, but very little was being done about it.

The tipping point seems to have occurred somewhere around 2015, when people suddenly saw plastic not just as trash but as a dangerous substance. This new public outcry seems to have begun with concern over the microbeads that are so prevalent in cosmetic and cleaning products. Shortly after, scientists discovered that microscopic fibers of plastic are eaten by fish and eventualaly make their way into our food stream. Suddenly, trash had taken on a new significance.

The world has been turning a blind eye to the problem for a very long time, but we are starting to wake up. But what can we do about it?