Their mission is to inspire a love of the natural world and encourage people to protect it. As part of this they are committing to minimising their own environmental impact. Over the coming months they will assess the facilities they offer their visitors to ensure they are providing acceptable alternatives, including water fountains and reusable bottles. They will also be looking at ways to encourage visitors to bring their own bottles.
Their decision reflects growing concern from many scientists and environmentalists about the impact of plastic on the world’s oceans. Research from the Museum’s own scientists, in collaboration with Royal Holloway, has shown the extent of unseen plastic pollution in the Thames and the presence of plastics in the stomachs of fish in the river. They have already stopped offering plastic straws to visitors and are looking into further ways they can reduce the use of plastic on our sites.
Professor Ian Owens, Director of Science at the Museum, commented that it is vital that scientific institutions like the Museum lead the way in the fight to understand and protect the natural world. The scale of ongoing plastic pollution is having a devastating effect on many marine species and the ecosystems that sustain life on Earth. Millions of single use plastic bottles are purchased every day in the UK alone, and billions end up in the sea every year.
The Museum is visited by over 4.5 million people every year and reaches millions more all over the world through digital channels.
Professor Ian, also commented that ‘Our decision to stop selling single use plastic water bottles is about becoming part of the movement towards a refillable culture and doing our part to encourage a mass lifestyle change that will help reduce the deluge of plastic into our seas.’
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