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BBC Targets Environmental Impacts of Plastics, Textiles in New Documentaries

Image credit: BBC/Twitter

In response to the success of its “Blue Planet II” nature documentary series and the substantial social media response that followed, the BBC will launch two new programs that explore the impact of plastics and textiles on the environment.

Presented by Liz Bonnin, a BBC science and wildlife presenter, Drowning in Plastic is a 90-minute documentary that delves deeper into the issue of marine plastics, which was touched on briefly in “Blue Planet II.” The film, which will air on BBC One, will investigate the full scale of the world’s plastic problem — how plastics are leaking into the environment, the ramifications for ecosystem health and what we can do to save our seas.

Bonnin will track and follow plastic waste to discover where it travels once it reaches the ocean, creating a detailed picture of how plastic is carried around the world on ocean currents. She’ll travel to some of the planet’s ‘plastic hotspots’ to investigate the problem at its worst and find out why these regions dump so much plastic in the sea.

The show will also highlight some of the solutions scientists around the world are developing to rectify the seemingly unsolvable problem.

“I’ve been studying wildlife in some of the most remote and spectacular parts of the planet for over a decade now and I’ve had the great privilege of exploring many of our magnificent oceans and even their depths. All of it has instilled in me an enormous admiration and respect for our marine environments. But I’ve also been horrified at the scale of the plastic pollution I’ve found along countless shorelines and out in the open sea,” Bonnin said.

“As an island nation and as a global species, we have a responsibility to address the way we view, use and dispose of plastics to prevent this problem from becoming a catastrophe. Hope lies in scientific research, but each and every one of us can become a part of the solution as responsible custodians of our blue plant. I hope that our film will serve to inform and inspire to this end.”

Next, “The Truth About What You Wear” will examine the environmental impact of the clothing industry. Revealing how fast fashion is threatening endangered species, Stacey Dooley will hold industry heavy-hitters accountable and challenge them to change their practices in order to help save the planet’s wildlife.

The 60-minute program will be accompanied by specially commissioned, new short-form content on BBC Three.

“Ten years ago I was involved in ‘Blood, Sweat and T-shirts,’ which brought to the attention of young consumers like myself, the human rights abuses in the clothing industry. Although there’s still a long way to go, some real improvements have been made here. However, many consumers, myself included, are unaware of the devastating environmental impact that the clothing industry is having on our natural world. It’s hugely important that we all become aware of the damage being caused and to show consumers that we have the power to make positive change,” Dooley said.

The new programming not only demonstrates the broadcaster’s commitment to capturing the unprecedented speed at which the natural world is changing and shed light on important issues, but also calls attention to viewers’ growing awareness and interest of environmental issues. According to The Guardian, “Blue Planet II” was the most-watched program of 2017, with the first episode drawing an audience of 14.1 million people. What’s more, this makes the nature documentary the third-most watched show in the past five years, surpassed only by the 2014 football World Cup final and the 2016 “Great British Bake Off” finale.

“It’s not that we haven’t tackled these subjects on BBC1 before, but I think the public conscious has changed. I think there is an appetite to understand beyond the headlines,” said Tom McDonald, head of commissioning for natural history and special factual programs at the BBC. “We are not here to campaign, we are not here to lobby, but there is a consensus among scientists that the world is changing. I don’t think there is anything contentious about looking at what is happening in the world.”

Drowning in Plastic and “The Truth About What You Wear” will air on BBC One later this year.


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