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The Human Aquarium Exhibition makes a splash in Leeds to highlight wildlife and environmental issues

By Evie Whitaker

A thought-provoking exhibition arrived in Leeds in February giving a greater insight into what life is like for sea mammals.

The exhibition – located in St Johns Centre – explored the issues of captivity and plastic waste through the use of mermaids, art, sculpture and photography.

The exhibition aimed to raise awareness of the harsh conditions some sea mammals have to go through during captivity.

Messages around recycling at the exhibition urged people to be more mindful with their waste and use less single-use plastic, which has a significant detrimental impact on the environment.

Family-friendly interactive workshops for younger visitors were held every day to convey these important environmental messages through play and creative activities.

On February 22, a series of talks was held at the exhibition from organisations such as the World Cetacean Alliance, Plastic-Free Me, Greenpeace Leeds, Love the Oceans, Zero Waste Leeds and the Real Junk Food Project.

Leeds sets an example for other cities when it comes to recycling

It’s not just the Human Aquarium Exhibition making efforts to reduce the amount of people’s single-use plastics in the city, as Leeds by Example collaborates with Hubbub in a new campaign.

The campaign has seen the arrival of 44 new bins in the city that encourage people to recycle their waste and separate out their different types of rubbish.

The bins are all labelled with fun phrases but make the separation of recyclable waste and single-use plastics clear and simple.

The campaign has placed a major focus on the recycling of coffee cups as they are one of the main items of on-the-go waste becoming increasingly popular in cities such as Leeds.

Hubbub’s Jess Wiles said: “We design positive, playful campaigns that inspire people to make healthier, greener choices.

“Single-use plastic is used once, yet takes over 400 years to degrade.

“As well as being funded by 25 major brands and retailers, we’ve worked in partnership with Leeds City Council, Zero Waste Leeds and Forge Recycling to establish a new on-street recycling network with 44 new on-street bins.

“There’s been a lot of interest from other towns and cities, so we’ll be looking at developing an inspiration guide to help them implement the bits we know work, whilst also seeing how we can continue to build on the momentum in Leeds as the flagship city for recycling on the go, to ensure it continues to #LeedsByExample.”

‘Empty cups, nowt else’

Use your empty coffee cup to vote for house music or hip hop

Leeds Trinity Shopping Centre homes a giant coffee cup as part of the campaign

Ecotopia has also arrived in Leeds in hope to change the way people live in the city by cutting out single-use plastics in their shopping.

The zero waste shop arrived in Leeds Central Arcade some months back and is making an impact on how eco-minded the people of Leeds are.

Single-use plastic facts and figures

Single-use plastics can only be used once before being thrown away, this includes plastic wrapping, straws, water bottles, food packaging and much more.

As a result of single-use plastic we are left with one of the biggest environmental problems, with the harmful plastic ending up in waterways and oceans where it will remain for centuries.

Worldwide only 10-13% of plastic is recycled.

Households in Leeds throw away on average 40kg of plastic in their black bins each year.

This accumulates to an additional 17,000 tonnes more plastic that could be recycled in Leeds every year.

On average, 11% of household waste in Leeds is made up by plastic.

There are some subtle changes that can be made in your day to day lifestyle that make a much greater change to the environment.

By introducing just a few of the ways below to eliminate and reduce your single-use plastic waste you can alter your approach to recycling and plastic, as well as those surrounding you.

Steps to reduce personal single-use plastic waste

Swap out plastic bottles and coffee cups for reusable and on the go bottles and cups

Use reusable bags when you go shopping

By non-perishables in bulk

Use bar soap

Use Tupperware containers instead of Clingfilm

Use reusable or paper straws

Use plastic free toilet paper

Switch to paperless billing

What do you think?