A recent report by Dr Jenna Jambeck, University of Georgia, claims that 8 million tonnes of litter is dumped in the oceans each year. Natalie Fee, singer-songwriter, TV presenter and plastics campaigner, is using World Oceans Day to ask, “How do we address this plastic marine litter problem, City to Sea: Bristol Fashion?”

World Oceans Day, 8 June, is a significant date for Natalie Fee: it was this day last year that started her on a journey which culminated in bringing together experts in the field to ask serious questions and look for practical actions at a city-level to make changes.

Having had a fear of the sea, Natalie admits she was out of touch with the growing problem of plastic pollution. But after seeing the the film Midway, which shows young albatross living in the middle of the Pacific dying on a diet of plastic bottle tops, she was moved to do something more. During the course of the crowdfunding campaign for a music video, Natalie met a great number of people in Bristol working on the issue of plastic pollution, and identified an opportunity to bring everyone together.

“It also seemed timely as it was Green Capital year. Bristol is such a can-do, forward-thinking City and I was curious to see what solutions or initiatives could materialise if people collaborated.”

Each year, numerous volunteer groups conduct litterpicks along the banks of the Avon, Frome and Severn; regular offending articles are plastic bottles, plastic bottle tops, polystyrene takeaway containers and earbuds (which are flushed down the toilet). It was the devastating scenes on the riverbanks of the Avon after this spring’s high tides that spurred Natalie into action.

Just over a month ago, around 30 people living in Bristol and working in fields relating to marine and river health attended the first City to Sea meeting, hosted by Natalie and her newly formed ‘City to Sea’ volunteer team. A number of initiatives were identified following break-out groups, and these will be debated in more detail on 8 June with the premise of stemming the flow of plastic litter heading into the Bristol Channel.

Bristol residents, businesses and organisations are all invited to join the panel of experts – Chris Sherrington (Eunomia), Thomas Bell (Director, Changes Us), Jo Ruxton (Plastic Oceans) and Melinda Watson (Raw Foundation) – in a lively debate which will form the basis of a Bristol Plastic Charter.

“If San Francisco can ban the plastic bottle and New York the polystyrene takeaway carton, just imagine what Bristol can do during its year as Green Capital! I’d like us to become an example to the rest of Europe, of how we stopped so much plastic litter flowing out of the Avon.”

The event will be filmed by Made in Bristol TV to form a two-part current affairs show, and the debates will be followed by an artistic response to marine litter: the launch of Natalie Fee’s new music video, which was crowd-funded in Bristol on World Oceans Day last year, and four short animations that highlight the issue through poetry and comedy.

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