The heartbreaking footage of the pilot whale who carried around her dead newborn, poisoned by its own mother’s milk toxified by plastic waste, was for many people the lingering memory of David Attenborough’s awe-inspiring yet frequently poignant series Blue Planet II.
Attenborough’s sobering warning about the devastation plastic waste is causing to our oceans resonated with just about everyone who watched it.
In fact, one poll found 88% of people who saw the episode in question, broadcast in November 2017, say they have since changed their behaviour towards plastics.
The travel sector has, for several years, made a concerted effort to address the issue of plastic waste. Abta’s 2018 Make Holidays Greener campaign switched its focus to plastic waste, and the association has pledged to expand on this work this year.
Nikki White, Abta’s director of destinations and sustainability, described the change in attitudes following Blue Planet II as a “tipping point in public awareness on the damage plastics can have on the environment” and called for businesses to “drive forward change in their approach internally, as well as with suppliers and destinations”.
Attenborough returns to our screens on Friday (April 5) with what is set to be another spectacular and thought-provoking eight-part series entitled Our Planet, which this time has been produced in partnership with Netflix where it will air rather than the BBC.
The first episode highlights the diversity of habitats across the world and the “fragile” connections between them, and features footage of Peruvian seabird colonies, lesser flamingos nesting in Africa, wildebeest in the Serengeti and polar bears on Svalbard.
More than 600 crew worked on the series, which was filmed in 50 countries across every continent on the earth. Our Planet will be accompanied by a range of initiatives and online resources “to help people of all ages understand the importance of Earth’s habitats and how they can help them thrive for generations to come”.
Many businesses throughout travel have undoubtedly taken important steps towards reducing plastic use, particularly single-use plastics.
Blue Planet II marked a sea change in attitudes towards plastic use; the question now is whether Attenborough’s latest series will once again inspire people to act, to assess their habits and make positive and proactive change – and if so, what issue is set to become the focal point for change?
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