BBC's spectacular 'single-use plastic' own goal
A mere three days after the Director General of the BBC had announced a three-step plan to remove single-use plastic from operations, the broadcaster's award-winning soap conducted a balloon release.
The BBC has just invested several million pounds and four years of filming Blue Planet II. Its key and primary message is to educate the world that our oceans are overwhelmed with plastic pollution. And the message is getting through. The series is having a positive impact.
On 13 February 2018 Tony Hall, the BBC's Director General, unveiled a raft of measures to scrap single-use plastic from BBC sites by 2020.
These include scrapping plastic cups and cutlery, trialing a coffee cup recycling scheme and a review of packing of products the BBC buy and catering on location.
Like millions of people watching Blue Planet II, I was shocked to see the avoidable waste and harm created by single-use plastic. We all need to do our bit to tackle this problem, and I want the BBC to lead the way.
It seems however that not everyone within the Corporation has read Tony Hall's memo and got the 'Blue Planet' message. Or perhaps the artistic whims of the BBC producers have put their egos before the environment.
Eastenders - the BBC flagship soap - prides itself in being eco-friendly and sustainable, and in fact the programme has won an award for this. However on 16 February 2018 Eastenders gave 6.5 million viewers positive permission to conduct a balloon release. They taught the nation that sky littering is now socially acceptable. This act clearly demonstrates that BBC production personnel are not aware of the true cost of balloon releases to farm, wild and marine life and that it is no longer environmentally ok to release balloons.
The footage added nothing to the story. It was not a moment where key information was revealed and, in light of the Director-General's announcement, it would have easily been edited from the programme.
Did that scene really add anything to the drama? Nope. But the drama will continue in our seas. Marine Conservation Society
The balloon release also broke the Balloon & Party Industry Alliance code of practice.
No ribbons or strings should be attached to the balloons
Following the Eastenders balloon release the Marine Conservation Society reported that there has been a 50% rise in balloon litter on UK beaches between 2015 and 2016.
Sadly Eastenders missed an environmental opportunity to educate the public that there a number of better alternatives to balloon releases. These include flying a kite, lighting candles, planting a tree, creating a wild flower garden, blowing bubbles, throwing natural flower petals into the sea or saying a prayer.