Activist News

Message from our Antarctic crew

Greenpeace UK - Fri, 2018-03-23 16:05

Our Antarctic crew have a special message for you.

Pop your headphones in, hit the play button and have a listen to a number of the crew explaining why we must stop the expansion of the krill industry.

Feeling inspired?

If you haven’t signed the petition yet, why not join over a million people who are calling for an Antarctic Sanctuary to protect the whales and penguins.

The post Message from our Antarctic crew appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

VICTORY! Holland & Barrett ditch krill oil to protect the Antarctic

Greenpeace UK - Fri, 2018-03-23 13:24

It’s not been a great week for the krill industry. This week, Greenpeace have taken action on land and at sea to call out the massive fishing vessels that are steaming into sensitive Antarctic waters and targeting the bedrock of the Antarctic food chain: tiny shrimp-like krill. And we’re winning.

Hang on, what’s krill?

Krill may be small, but as the main food source of whales, seals and penguins it’s incredibly important for the entire Antarctic ecosystem.The five species of baleen whale who travel thousands of miles to the Antarctic to feed all rely almost exclusively on plentiful supplies of krill.

So with a changing climate already placing penguin and whale populations under pressure, an expanding krill industry is bad news for the health of the Antarctic Ocean. Yet we’ve revealed that krill-fishing companies are expanding operations in the fragile Antarctic Ocean, putting an entire food web at risk. A new Greenpeace International investigation tracked these vessels fishing around the Antarctic Peninsula, in areas that governments are formally considering for protection, as the essential foraging grounds of whales and penguin colonies. What’s more, these vessels are often involved in fishing practices that could damage wildlife and protected ocean areas.

We needed to take action.

The krill industry is betting on rapid expansion in these sensitive Antarctic waters, fuelled by lucrative sales of krill oil as an omega-3 health supplement. The UK is the fourth largest krill oil market globally, so our high street retailers are helping to fuel and justify the krill fishing industry’s expansion plans. But we know there is strong public support to protect the Antarctic – over 275,000 of you have signed a petition to the UK Government calling for an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.


So we took the message straight to the leading UK retailer stocking krill products which have been fished from these areas earmarked for protection: health food chain Holland & Barrett.

And we won!

After just a few days of hungry penguin stickers appearing on Holland & Barrett’s krill products and over 45,000 emails to their CEO in 24 hours, Holland & Barrett announced it had decided to “remove all krill-based products from sale in the coming weeks in line with the recent Greenpeace report that calls for limiting fishing for krill in areas proposed for new Ocean Sanctuaries”.

This is a major boost for proposals to protect the Antarctic this year – and it’s thanks to so many of you who took action. Other retailers still selling krill products fished in Antarctic waters earmarked for protection will find it hard to ignore this swell of public demand, and need to take action now. No retailer should be stocking products that put the Antarctic Ocean at risk.

Action from sea to shelf

The Antarctic Ocean may be many thousands of miles away, but when we work together, we have the power to protect it. At the same time that Holland & Barrett decided to do the right thing, Greenpeace activists braved freezing temperatures to confront a krill fishing vessel in Antarctic waters in a peaceful protest to protect this critical food source for penguins and whales. They occupied a survival pod which they attached to the anchor chain of the ship and unfurled a banner reading Protect The Antarctic.



The krill industry has got too comfortable operating out of sight. It can no longer get away with putting the Antarctic at risk. The Antarctic Ocean is all of ours to protect, not companies’ to exploit – share the news of this victory for people power!

The post VICTORY! Holland & Barrett ditch krill oil to protect the Antarctic appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Holland & Barrett: Help stop the krillers

Greenpeace UK - Wed, 2018-03-21 11:48

With a changing climate already placing penguin and whale populations under pressure, an expanding krill industry is bad news for the health of the Antarctic Ocean. Krill may be a tiny, shrimp-like creature – but it sustains all life in the Antarctic Ocean, from massive blue whales to colossal squids to penguins.

Yet over the past decade, krill fishing activity has become more and more concentrated around the Antarctic Peninsula, and on the edge of the Weddell Sea – areas that have been recommended for protection by government scientists, as the foraging grounds of whales and penguin colonies.

Sales of krill oil health supplements are fuelling the expansion of krill fishing in these sensitive Antarctic waters. The krill industry is in its relative infancy, but has a big ambition to grow quickly in coming years with plans to rake in nearly $400m from lucrative krill oil supplements in 2021 – the lion’s share of the overall krill oil market.

The UK is the fourth largest krill oil market globally, with krill oil products sold and marketed on the high street and online as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. That means even though Antarctic fishing is happening thousands of miles away, we have a big opportunity to influence this global industry – through the well-known UK retailers that stock krill products on their shelves.

At the moment, UK sales are helping to fuel and justify the krill fishing industry’s expansion plans. Yet over 275,000 people are backing our call to protect the Antarctic, and put its waters off-limits to fishing vessels. That’s why we’re calling on Holland & Barrett to be on the right side of Antarctic protection, and urge its suppliers to get out of waters that need protection.

Holland & Barrett is one of the leading stockists of krill oil products in the UK, and even sells own-brand packs of krill oil on the high street and online. The krill fishery that supplies all these products is fishing in areas under consideration for protection, meaning Holland & Barrett can use its influence as a buyer to pass on the message to its suppliers: no krill should be fished in areas that are being considered for protection.

Holland & Barrett claims leadership on environmental issues, telling Greenpeace that Holland & Barrett “take great pride in our ethical and environmental friendly policies”. It sells a range of alternative omega-3 fatty acids, from algal oil to brown seaweed and flaxseed linseed oil. Holland & Barrett have defended their sales of krill oil as “harvested from sustainable sources”, certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Yet with vast uncertainties over krill numbers and how climate change will affect krill populations in the Antarctic, how can it be possible to call krill fishing sustainable?

Even worse, a Greenpeace investigation recently revealed that krill vessels are undertaking risky practices in Antarctic waters. Krill companies and retailers need to be doing far more to protect the Antarctic – namely, making sure that no krill is fished in especially sensitive areas earmarked for protection.

Holland & Barrett have previously taken action to protect our oceans, and were the first major UK retailer to ditch plastic bags and ban microbeads. But it is lagging behind on krill oil – several UK retailers such as Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Waitrose do not or no longer stock krill oil products. With ambitions to become a leading global health and wellness retailer, Holland & Barrett can play an important role in sustaining or undermining the expansion of krill oil products globally.

It’s time that Holland & Barrett recognised the role they can play in protecting the Antarctic – rather than justifying industrial expansion in the homes of penguins and whales.

Email Holland & Barrett now to protect the Antarctic.

The post Holland & Barrett: Help stop the krillers appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

In Pictures: A Moment of Truth on International Day of Forests

Greenpeace UK - Tue, 2018-03-20 09:36

Today is International Day of Forests, which raises awareness about the importance of all sorts of trees and woodlands. Our new report “Moment of Truth” shines a light on companies’ readiness to come clean about where their palm oil comes from and finds that brands are not on track to meet their commitments to a clean palm oil supply chain by 2020. With the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforest showing no sign of slowing down species like the Bornean orangutan remain threatened due to loss of habitat. Big brands must reveal where their palm oil comes from and help halt dangerous consequences like devastating forest fires and climate change.

An adult orangutan stands on the ground at Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation in Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan. Fungi  is seen in the rainforest in Kalasou valley, Sorong, West Papua. A Bay Cat (Pardofelis badia) gray morph male is photographed in lowland rainforest, Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo. A stranded orangutan clings to a solitary tree in the PT Ladang Sawit Mas (PT LSM) concession within the Sungai Putri peatland landscape of Ketapang district, West Kalimantan. PT LSM is controlled by the Bumitama group, a member of the RSPO. International Animal Rescue Indonesia rescued several starving orangutans from the oil palm concession after Bumitama cleared extensive areas of their rainforest habitat.

Fallen flowers are seen in a lowland rainforest landscape in the Nimbokrang-Swamp Forest, West Papua.

An aerial view from a helicopter shows fires at forest and palm oil plantations in Pangkalan Terap, Teluk Meranti, Pelalawan regency, Riau. Riau Province Forest Fires Task Force try to extinguish the fire in the peatland area from the air and on the ground. Children playing without wearing any protection – the air is engulfed with a thick haze from the forest fires at Sei Ahass village, Kapuas district in Central Kalimantan province on Borneo island, Indonesia. These fires are a threat to the health of thousands. Mountain forests are photographed on the outskirts of Manokwari, Papua, Indonesia. Greenpeace is in Indonesia to document one of the world’s most biodiverse – and threatened – environments and to call for urgent action to ensure that the country’s oceans and forests are protected. A semi-wild Sumatran Tiger (Panthera Tigris Sumatrae) is seen at the Tambling Wildlife Nature Conservation rescue centre, which is part of the South Bukit Barisan National Park. A large fire scar marks the burnt remains of peatland forest and recently cleared and drained deep peatland inside the PT Kusuma Alam Sari oil palm concession in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan. PT KAS is part of the Alas Kusuma Group. This photo from Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) shows a female and her baby. It’s a new species of orangutan – the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) is the first new addition in almost a century to the small club of great apes, joining its fellow Sumatran and Borneo orangutans. Excavators clear forest inside the PT Karya Makmur Abadi Estate II palm oil concession. PT KMA II contains important areas of mapped orangutan habitat and is a subsidiary of the Malaysian Kuala Lumpar Kepong Berhad (KLK) group. Aerial view of Papua province, Indonesia’s last intact forest frontier. Clouds frame a broad expanse of forest extending to the Maoke Mountains in Jayawijaya district, part of the Central Cordillera highland mountain range in Papua.



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Categories: Activist News

Time is running out Carex – come clean about palm oil

Greenpeace UK - Mon, 2018-03-19 16:02

Indonesia has more threatened and endangered species than any other country on Earth – largely due to the destruction of their habitats. The Bornean orangutan population has decreased by half since 1999 with over 100,000 lost in the last 16 years. In 2017, a new species of orangutan was discovered in Sumatra, but it is already endangered.


Around 24 million hectares of Indonesia’s rainforest was destroyed between 1990 and 2015 – an area almost the size of the UK. And since 2012, 146 football pitches of rainforest has been lost every hour – that’s one football pitch every 25 seconds. Indonesia has also become one of the biggest climate polluters. In 2014, it had the fourth highest GHG emissions, most of this as a result of deforestation.


And what’s the main driver of this environmental destruction? Companies that are clearing forests to grow palm oil – a product in about half the products on our supermarket shelves. In case after case, NGOs have linked major brands to palm oil companies that destroy rainforests and exploit people. In the past decade, companies like Unilever, Nestle and Mars promised their customers that they would clean up the palm oil in their products by 2020 – for the forest and the climate. With less than two years to go however, forest destruction in Indonesia shows no sign of slowing down.


Today we launch a new report, Moment of Truth, which reveals that brands are not on track to keep their promise of a clean palm oil supply chain by 2020. Moreover, much of the palm oil that brands, including those that have made such commitments, use in their products still comes from producers that are destroying rainforests. In January 2018, we challenged 16 of the world’s leading brands to disclose the palm oil companies and mills that produce the palm oil they use. Eight leading global brands have taken the unprecedented step of naming the companies that produce their palm oil. In every case, this information reveals that brands have forest destroyers in their supply chains – confirming that there is still a long way to go before brands can claim their palm oil is deforestation-free.


But we can not afford for companies break their promise. If they don’t reach their targets of no deforestation palm oil in their supply chains by 2020 then there will be dangerous consequences for the climate.


So we are going to hold brands accountable. Starting with Carex.


Despite promises to change, Carex, which claims to be the UK’s number 1 hand-wash is refusing to even say where their palm oil comes from. Carex needs to come clean about where the palm oil used to make their products comes from, remove suppliers that are driving deforestation from their supply chain, and protect the forest and our climate by phasing out deforestation from its supply chain before it’s too late.


We must get brands to stick to their word and make sure that they don’t use palm oil that is made at the greatest cost: the rights of people, the lives of orangutans, our forests and our climate. That commitment doesn’t start in 2020. It starts now.


The post Time is running out Carex – come clean about palm oil appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

10 amazing things about Antarctic krill

Greenpeace UK - Mon, 2018-03-19 12:17
With beautiful black eyes, and otherworldly translucent pink bodies, Antarctic krill are alien-looking animals. And they’re a lot more than just whale food. To get to know them a bit better, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the best bits about these tiny shrimp-like ocean critters. Antarctic krill are massively important for the Antarctic Ocean, but they also happen to be fascinating animals in their own right.


  1. There are about 85 species of krill around the world, but by far the biggest and arguably most important on the planet is the Antarctic krill: they can grow to a gargantuan 5 or 6cm long, and live to be maybe 5 years old.
  2. They are ‘arthropods’, which means they have jointed bodies and lots of pairs of legs. The legs at the back end of the body are adapted for swimming, whilst those at the front are ideal for catching food.

  3. They are able to generate their own light – a fancy ability known as bioluminescence. That basically means krill swarms are one big pulsating crustacean disco party.

  4. They are the basis for the entire Antarctic food web, where they are eaten directly by penguins, seabirds, seals, fish, and whales. Anything in the Antarctic that doesn’t eat krill, probably eats something else that does. Blue and humpback whales migrate to the Antarctic from warmer waters every year just to feast on krill.

    Humpback whales feeding for krill in the Antarctic © Christian Åslund / Greenpeace

  5. It’s easy to tell when penguins have been eating krill, because it turns their poo pink!
  6. Krill migrate up and down every day, between the safety of the depths during the day to the food-filled surface waters at night.
  7. They have sex near the seafloor. Foreplay for krill involves diving down several hundred metres first.
  8. Though tiny by human standards, krill swarm together in massive numbers, with as many as 30,000 animals in a cubic metre of a krill swarm.

    Macro detail of krill in the sea at night.

  9. In a neat trick to avoid predators, it’s thought that krill have the ability to spontaneously moult their shell and make a quick getaway. When times are tough they can also shrink in size, conserving energy by staying smaller when they moult shells rather than growing ever bigger. Because of this, you can’t tell how old a krill is just by size.
  10. Antarctic krill are climate heroes! Scientists have recently discovered that krill play a vital role in capturing carbon and depositing it on the sea floor – thereby locking it up and keeping it out of the atmosphere.

Krill are awesome. They are also essential for all other life in the Antarctic Ocean, and much further afield too. But they are at risk from industrial fishing – being scooped up in their thousands to be made into Omega 3 pills and fish meal. This year, we have the chance to put a massive part of the Antarctic off limits as a protected ocean sanctuary.

Sign our petition and help protect the Antarctic.


The post 10 amazing things about Antarctic krill appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Oil companies are trying to drill in our national parks. Again.

Greenpeace UK - Fri, 2018-03-16 12:26

A few years ago, fossil fuel companies were banned from fracking in Britain’s national parks.

Now they’re back.

A handful of companies want to start a shale oil rush in southeastern England, using diluted acid to dissolve the rocks and release more oil.

This ‘acid drilling’ technique lets them get around restrictions on fracking, and drill for oil in some of our country’s most special places.

Local people are already running a brilliant campaign to protect their community from this new wave of drilling – let’s show that the whole country is with them.

Tell the government: stop all fossil fuel drilling in protected areas. Sign the petition.

Drilling on protected land

Oil companies have bought up drilling licenses across the south east of England – and Greenpeace investigators found that these licenses cover nearly 180,000 acres of protected land – about 40% of the total area licensed for drilling. National parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, and sites of special scientific interest are now at risk from oil drilling.

On this map, oil drilling license areas are marked in red. National parks and other protected areas are in green. No country for oil men

These places are protected for a reason.

They’re the quiet forests where rare creatures hide in the canopy.

They’re the river banks where friends drink tea and make memories around tiny camp stoves.

They’re the unique valleys where scientists work to understand our work.

And they’re the old hills that still echo with Saxon stories and Roman footsteps.

The truth is simple, and obvious to anyone who’s really looking. Oil companies don’t belong here.

Thousands of new wells

The companies have told investors they can get a billion barrels of oil from this region, and there’s no way they’re getting that from the dozen-or-so existing wells in the area.

If they want to live up to their own hype, they’ll need to drill thousands of new wells, then ‘stimulate’ them using acid. Acid drilling has some similar risks to fracking – but right now it’s barely even monitored, and much less regulated.

Of course, all the safety regulations in the world don’t change the basic facts of climate change. If we want to avoid climate breakdown, new oil supplies like this one simply need to stay in the ground.

There’ll be other ways to help over the next few weeks, but signing the petition is the best way to start. Add your name and we’ll keep you posted on other ways to get involved.

The River Test site of special scientific interest – one of the places that falls within a licensed oil drilling area.

Do you remember a few years ago, when the government was “going all out for fracking” and pundits were predicting it’d be huge? There’s a reason that hasn’t happened.

Ordinary people decided to draw a line. They spoke up and got organised. And today, although the government still officially supports fracking, there still isn’t a single production well in the UK, and some fracking companies’ finances are looking shaky.

We can do the same again for acid drilling. Let’s get started.

The post Oil companies are trying to drill in our national parks. Again. appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Strange things lurk in the icy depths of the Antarctic Ocean

Greenpeace UK - Wed, 2018-03-14 18:04

Cute penguins might get all the press, whales certainly give the wows, and big-eyed seals bring the feels – but there’s a lot more to the Antarctic Ocean if you’re prepared to dive a little deeper.

Some very strange things lurk in the icy depths of the Antarctic. Extreme conditions produce extreme animals, and these are worthy of starring roles in science fiction movies, their own X File, and perhaps a few nightmares too.

Whilst we at Greenpeace obviously believe that all critters, however creepy, are worthy of their own special place on the planet, we wanted to give you a quick peek at some of the beasties from the deep that you probably have never heard of. All of them play their own essential roles in the Antarctic Ocean, although many of them lurk in less savoury or glamorous parts of the web of life.

Without further ado, let’s meet the weird and wonderful things that go bump in the depths:


Basket star

Another relative of the humble starfish is the lusciously-tendrilled Chilean basket star. Intricate, otherworldly and alien, this is an animal that has evolved coiled, many-fingered branches along each of its five arms.

They like to perch on top of a rock or handy sponge to spread their interwoven basket of waiting arms armed with tiny hooks as wide as they can to catch passing and falling food. The branch-like appendages then curl around the tasty morsels and transfer them to the basket star’s mouth, which it is sitting on (which is handy, because it’s also its bottom!).


Antarctic feather star

A feather star is basically a specially adapted cousin of the starfish which looks like a cross between an animated palm tree and a feather duster. Their body design is quite simple – a glorified mouth surrounded by feathery arms.

Most of the time they stay rooted to the seafloor, catching passing morsels of food falling from above – but when they need to move they swim in a mesmerising, ethereal way that has to be one of the most amazing forms of locomotion in the natural world.


Crabeater seal

On the face of it, these blubbery furballs might not seem the weirdest thing swimming in the Antarctic ocean – but wait until they give you a grin. With a mouth full of specially adapted teeth more fitting for a comic book villain, they are able to catch and filter out mouthfuls of tiny Antarctic krill as their staple diet.


Bristle worm

Okay, you might need some moral support for this one. Antarctic bristle worms are like demonic tinsel. Undulating bodies flanked by glittering gold hairs in no way make up for a monstrous bulbous head full of fearsome jaws.

Luckily these shimmering horrors only grow to about 20cm long and they’re not likely to turn up on any Christmas tree near you. Unless you’re on the *really naughty* list.

Siobhan Leachman / CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain


Giant sea spider

Sea spiders can be found around the world, and are normally quite insignificant in size. But in the icy Antarctic they take things to extremes – and grow to a startling size. It’s part of a recurring phenomenon where animals that live in deeper and colder waters tend to grow slower and grow much, much bigger.

At a dinner-plate 25cm across these sinister spindly hunters stalk the seafloor on impossibly long thin legs. As well as having a freakish nose-like proboscis, they have such tiny bodies that some of their internal organs have to be stored in their legs.

North Atlantic Stepping Stones Science Party, IFE, URI-IAO; NOAA/OAR/OER


Hoff Crab

Confusingly, the Hoff ‘crab’ is a type of lobster, and relatively new to science. This pale ghostly crustacean is found hanging around deep sea superheated volcanic vents, which are some of the most extreme environments on the planet – so they’re pretty badass.

These pasty fellas are named after 80’s heartthrob David Hasselhoff, because they, like him, have an exceptionally hairy chest. However the Hoff crab’s chest hair is covered in bacteria, which it picks out and eats. Yum!

David Shale /


Sea pig

Sea pigs are distant cousins of starfish and sea urchins, and they look like someone filled a pair of pink rubber gloves with snot. They have a face only a mother sea pig could find, never mind love.

These gelatinous grazers trundle across the sea floor, snuffling through the mud to find delicious decaying scraps to eat. Those appendages are filled with fluid, and can be either legs or antenna, depending which is most useful.

Ocean Networks Canada / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Giant Antarctic isopod

Looking like a giant woodlouse or pill bug with an armour upgrade, giant isopods are a feature of deep sea floors the world over, and can grow to as much as 45cm in length. Thankfully the Antarctic giant isopods are a bit smaller, probably only about the size of your fist, but what they lack in length they make up for in crusty, monstrous, post-apocalyptic good looks.

Despite looking like massive insects, they are actually crustaceans, like crabs, shrimp and krill. They’re able to roll up into a protective ball when they feel threatened, and, just when you thought it might be safe to get into the water, they can swim – which they often do upside down in full-on ‘Alien’ movie face-hugger horror.

Doug Allen /



Semi-transparent bodies and oversized heads give the Antarctic icefish a ghostly appearance. It’s able to extend its jaws to catch food, and despite having no red blood cells is one of the only fish able to withstand freezing Antarctic waters by having an inbuilt ‘antifreeze’ in its transparent blood.

©UweKillsCC BY3.0


Colossal Squid

The biggest invertebrate on the planet possibly lurks in the depths of the Antarctic ocean.  They have the biggest eyes in the animal kingdom, roughly the size of a dinner plate (or a giant sea spider with its legs stretched out!) – all the better for seeing in the inky depths.

Despite its enormous size, with a body of at least 2.5 metres before you add tentacles, we know surprisingly little about these deep sea dwellers. They have eight arms and two tentacles which are extra long and have rotating hooks with which to ensnare their prey. Colossal squid are tough fighters, and engage in deep sea battles with ravenous sperm whales which have never been witnessed, but we know about from the beaks of squid in sperm whale stomachs, and the sucker scars left on their body.


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Categories: Activist News

Guest Blog: Action on plastics shouldn’t make life suck for disabled people

Greenpeace UK - Wed, 2018-03-14 17:56

Greenpeace have been campaigning to raise awareness of the harmful impact plastics have on our oceans for several years: from microbeads to single-use plastics such as bottles, bags and straws. Nonetheless, it’s fair to say that the horrifying scenes captured by Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet 2’ showcased the hazards faced by marine life, and intensified the momentum behind such campaigns.

In responding to public concerns, a number of transport providers, cinema and restaurant chains and sports venues have, understandably, committed to phasing out the provision of plastic straws. A few companies have replaced plastic straws with paper or metal alternatives, whereas some are withdrawing all straws from public display until a suitable alternative is sourced, or withdrawing straws altogether.

As politicians in Westminster and Holyrood look to exercise their clout in the anti-plastics debate, it’s important that we consider the wider implications of a ban, particularly for disabled people, as we move towards eradicating single-use plastic straws.

The average plastic straw is cheap, flexible, can be used for drinking cold and hot beverages, and is readily available. For some disabled people these attributes are vital for independent living. It’s important to note that the umbrella of ‘disability’ includes people with different needs and impairments, and that it’s the universal accessibility of the plastic straw that makes so many disabled people anxious about an outright ban.

Disabled people can take longer to drink; therefore, a soggy paper straw increases the risk of choking. Most paper and silicone alternatives are not flexible, and this is an important feature for people with mobility related impairments. Metal, glass and bamboo straws present obvious dangers for people who have difficulty controlling their bite, as well as those with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s.  Some disabled people use straws when drinking coffee or eating soup, yet most of the alternatives, including the leading biodegradable straw, are not suitable for drinks over 40°C. In addition, re-useable straws in public places are not always hygienic or easy to clean – would you drink through a straw that’s been passed around the public?

One of the most common rebuttals from non-disabled people is that disabled people should just bring their own straw. Think about that for a moment. In addition to our Blue Badge, medicines, bank card and phone, we must also remember to carry a straw at all times just in case we get thirsty?

Then there is the cost. According to Scope, disabled people in the UK already face extra costs of £570 a month related to their impairment or condition. Passing yet another cost onto disabled people isn’t suitable if you accept that society bears a responsibility to make the world more accessible for everyone. After all, environmental justice without social justice isn’t justice at all.

What can we do?

I’m part of a disability rights group, One in Five, that is calling on manufacturers to produce an environmentally friendly flexible non-plastic straw that is suitable for hot and cold drinks – and we need support from non-disabled people too. When companies are discussing their needs with suppliers, they’re unlikely to buy four or five different straws; therefore we need a universal solution.

During an episode of BBC One’s The One Show last month, the Managing Director of Iceland Foods, Richard Walker, exhibited a clear, paper-based and recyclable alternative to the plastic film that covers many of their frozen meals. Although it’s still in the developmental stages, this demonstrates that companies will respond to consumer demands and that an environmentally friendly straw that meets the needs of disabled people and doesn’t pollute our oceans is not beyond our capabilities.

I think it’s important to point out that in the last few weeks, not one disabled person I’ve discussed this topic with is against the principle of banning unnecessary single-use plastics. In fact, many of the disability rights activists I know also champion animal rights and the need to protect our environment for future generations.

As we move to ridding our oceans, beaches and parks of unnecessary single-use plastics, disabled people shouldn’t be used as a scapegoat by large corporations, or governments, unwilling to push suppliers and manufacturers to produce a better solution. Instead, we must all work together to demand an environmentally friendly solution that meets all our needs, including those of disabled people.

The post Guest Blog: Action on plastics shouldn’t make life suck for disabled people appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

The Antarctic: A Place for Penguins Not Industrial Fishing

Greenpeace UK - Wed, 2018-03-14 16:53

This blog was written by Chris Packham. TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham is a wildlife expert, photographer and author with a passionate concern for conservation and the environment.

Penguins have lived in the Antarctic for millions of years.  They’re perfectly adapted for surviving conditions in one of the harshest environments on earth.

Emperor penguins’ agile flippers mean they almost fly underwater, swimming as deep as 500 metres beneath the icy Antarctic surface in search of food.  With none of the alternatives open to other birds, Adelie penguins build their nests from stones, and the exchange of useful pebbles is central to their mating rituals.  Gentoo penguins are so streamlined they can reach speeds of 22 miles per hour underwater, useful when your search for food might involve dodging deadly Leopard seals.

Penguins survive in the Antarctic because of krill.

Krill are small crustaceans, pretty similar in appearance to shrimp.  There are several different species – the ones that live in the Antarctic are the biggest, but they still only grow to be 6 cm long.  They gather in huge swarms of millions of individuals, and they are central to all life in the Antarctic. Almost everything there eats krill – not just penguins, but Crabeater seals, Humpback whales, Black-browed albatross and more – and those that don’t eat krill probably eat something that does.

But Antarctic animals aren’t the only ones with an appetite for krill.  Industrial fishing ships are hungry to expand their operations further, as revealed in a new report from Greenpeace, and hope to catch krill in previously untapped waters.  It is processed and ends up as food for fish farms around the world, or is even sold as unnecessary ‘krill oil’ health supplements. The industry uses nets or even massive suction tubes to scoop up swarms of krill.  And they’re taking it from exactly the places that penguins feed: I’ve led expeditions to the Antarctic and seen boats fishing just a mile or so from huge penguin colonies.

The simple truth is that the science that these companies are using to justify their business is out of date.  No one knows enough about krill populations, let alone about the local impacts of catching krill so close to areas of astonishing biodiversity.  Also, any industrial fishing brings with it other threats. We’ve seen fishing accidents all over the world: oil spills, ships running aground, huge fires. Just one of these could have devastating results in such a remote and extreme environment.

This is why I am supporting Greenpeace’s campaign for Antarctic Ocean Sanctuaries.  These huge areas would be off-limits to fishing ships, and would mean protection for places that are vital as foraging grounds for penguins and other wildlife.

Only governments have the power to create these Antarctic Ocean Sanctuaries.  But we need the companies that are catching krill to act as champions for our oceans rather than blocking environmental protection.  I challenge these krill companies to stop fishing in any areas that are being proposed as protected areas in the Antarctic, and to use their political influence to help lobby for the creation of those sanctuaries.

If these companies change their ways, they could tip the political balance in favour of Antarctic protection.  And it’s in their interests too: more ocean sanctuaries means healthier oceans, which means more fish for us and for wildlife.

The post The Antarctic: A Place for Penguins Not Industrial Fishing appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

My Journey to Protect the Antarctic

Greenpeace UK - Wed, 2018-03-14 16:10
Meena Rajput from Greenpeace UK

I’m writing this on International Women’s Day, on a Greenpeace ship in Punta Arenas, Chile, getting ready to sail back to the Antarctic Ocean to bear witness to the threats it’s facing from the krill Industry.

It feels amazing to be on this ship today as part of a campaign to secure the largest protected area on Earth – an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary – especially because up until recently women weren’t allowed to work in Antarctica. It was thought that the conditions were too extreme for us, or that we would get bored because there are no shops there. So, today, it feels amazing to be one of eight women who are sailing to the Antarctic Ocean with Greenpeace to make history.

Having joined Greenpeace 4 years ago, I’ve realised that protecting our planet requires everyone and every skill, to put enough pressure on large industries and governments. Only then can we achieve ambitious goals like creating a sanctuary in the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea – an area which is 5 times the size of Germany. We need people in our offices, on the ground, in their local communities, at home and on our ships, all working together with their own unique skills. This is how I ended up on the Greenpeace ship as part of a three-month expedition to the Antarctic Ocean.

In January, we deployed submarines deep into the Antarctic Ocean so scientist Dr Susanne Lockhart and marine biologist John Hocevar could explore the seabed and identify vulnerable marine ecosystems. In February, we showed the world what needs to be protected through beautiful imagery of the Antarctic Ocean and its wildlife, and explained the threats it faces from climate change.

Dr. Susanne Lockhart and submarine pilot John Hocevar diving in a submarine in the Antarctic.

And now, we will bear witness and expose the krill fishing industry that plans to expand further into the Antarctic Ocean. This ocean is already suffering the impacts of climate change – we cannot let big industries become another threat.

The Antarctic is one of the last remaining places on Earth that we haven’t destroyed for greed and money. Its ocean is home to beautiful penguins, whales, seals and the colossal squid (which has eyes the size of basketballs). The Antarctic is a vast natural art-gallery, full of jaw-dropping icebergs and mountain regions.

And importantly, the health of the Antarctic Ocean affects us all – the oceans regulate the climate, provide food for millions of people around the world, and produce over 50% of the oxygen in our atmosphere: every second breath we take comes from the world’s oceans.

As someone who hugely respects and appreciates nature, I started the expedition in January with a pretty clear intellectual understanding of why this ocean should be protected. But when I actually saw the beauty and the wildlife, I developed a new emotional understanding of why the ocean must be protected.

Humpback whale in the Antarctic

When I saw the beautiful whales I knew they were there to spend months feeding on krill before leaving for warmer waters. What they were eating now would have to sustain them and their young for up to three months. I knew many of the whales would also be pregnant.

I loved seeing the penguins waddling and sliding around on their bellies. But watching them as they swam for hours upon hours, with such strength and determination to bring food home to their chicks, gave me a newfound appreciation for how hard they work to survive.

My favourite moment was when one little intrigued Adélie penguin waddled straight up to me and looked me up and down and around. He was so friendly and curious. It was a beautiful moment symbolising how these creatures have no reason to fear us and that’s how it should stay.

Here are some of the curious little penguins. Photo by me

At that moment I realised, there was no way I could stand by and let the krill industry threaten these brilliant creatures, nor the harmony or the beauty that exists in this magical place. To me, greed does not justify the destruction of something so beautiful and balanced, especially when the consequences of this destruction are so clear.

So I’m now on board for the final part of our expedition to take action. Along with others, I will bear witness to the threat the krill industry poses. I know we’re backed by millions of people around the world who have called for an Antarctic Sanctuary.

Our expedition is so important because it will help expose the threats that are facing this beautiful ocean. This evidence, as well as the research gathered by scientists in January and February, will bolster our case to the Antarctic Commission in October 2018. Here the krill industry is a significant lobby, capable of undermining efforts to create ocean sanctuaries. We need to lobby harder to convince the Antarctic Commission of why an expansion of industrial fishing could be devastating.

Krill fishing vessels in the vicinity of Trinity Island in the Antarctic

Being an activist means being active – doing something about the things we care about. We are all activists in our own way – whether we sign a petition, chip into a campaign, lobby politicians, conduct research, take photographs and video footage, or stand on the frontlines. If we stand alone,  it can be hard to make a difference. But when we do all of this together, our impact is huge.

I feel very honoured to be part of this expedition, very determined to protect this beautiful place and the beautiful creatures that live here, and very positive about our hopes to create the largest sanctuary on Earth.

Before we reach the Antarctic Ocean we need to make the journey across the Drake Passage: an ocean passage known to all sailors as one of the most treacherous seas on Earth… but there’s no way I’m getting seasick on International Women’s Day!

Image through a porthole of Greenpeace ship while sailing through the infamous Drake passage

The post My Journey to Protect the Antarctic appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Forests, palm oil and the people: Silas’ story

Greenpeace UK - Tue, 2018-03-13 16:28

“It was about time ordinary Liberians took a stand on what was happening,” says Silas Siakor, a Liberian activist. But Silas himself is anything but ordinary.

Silas the film follows him and the NGO he founded, Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), as they expose the government’s lucrative, illegal deals with palm oil companies involving the sale of Liberia’s forest land. Alongside his team of investigators at SDI, Silas tirelessly travels the Liberian countryside uncovering the extent of the crime: half of Liberia’s forest land, and 25% of the country’s entire land mass. 

This is the film that the Liberian government hoped no one would ever see.

For Silas, the heart of the problem is that these lands are already spoken for – by communities like Jogbhan, whose people depend on the forest for their homes and livelihoods:

“The forest is all they’ve got… they depend on that for medicine, protein, fruits. Their agricultural system all depends on the natural forest around them” Silas says. But when the companies move in, “they become prisoners to the company on their own ancestral land.”

“We cannot stand by and allow multinational companies to destroy our forests. Because when they do, when they tear down the trees and strip the land, they tear down our people and strip away their lives.”

Deforestation taking place in Liberia.

The phone app TIMBY (This Is My Back Yard), is the quiet star of this film as it allows investigators and citizen reporters alike, whatever their location, to take photos and recordings of the things they witness. The app shifts the balance of power and makes it impossible for people in to avoid the truth.

In the words of Silas, “No more business as usual.”

Silas is the closing night film at Human Rights Watch film festival at the Barbican in London, 16 March. Buy tickets >

The post Forests, palm oil and the people: Silas’ story appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Antarctic Mother’s Day

Greenpeace UK - Sun, 2018-03-11 09:00

When it comes to parenting strategies, there is no end of diversity in the animal kingdom. And however different they are, somehow, they all work out.

This Mother’s Day, as we campaign to protect their home, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the most amazing mothers in the Antarctic Ocean.

It’s dizzyingly difficult to choose between so many poles-apart parents with such different approaches. There’s the Antarctic krill which lays as many as 10,000 eggs at a time.  The Wandering albatross that flies for thousands of miles to reunite with her life-long partner to raise a chick. The penguins who risk life and flipper to nest in safety for their fuzzy babies. And there are the squid and octopus mothers that can literally give their dying breath to see their young safely into the world.

But, for us, the most amazing mum in the Antarctic Ocean has to be the blue whale. And this is her story.



Female blue whales are the biggest animals that have ever lived, yet those in the Southern Hemisphere depend on tiny Antarctic krill to survive. With a heart as big as an adult gorilla, and the ability to swallow half a million calories in a single mouthful, these gentle giants are truly astonishing animals in almost every way.

For us though, it is their devotion to their big blubbery babies that is second to none. To keep their young ones safe, the mama blue whale will travel thousands of miles to sheltered tropical waters, which are safer, to give birth and nurse their calf.

The problem is, there is little for whales to eat in these  breeding sanctuaries, so the mother starves herself when she’s giving birth and looking after the new baby.

Blue whales are already about eight metres long, and weigh about four tonnes when they are born. They suckle milk from their mother like all mammals do. To feed the newborn, the mother turns some of her own blubber reserves into fatty milk so rich that the baby can gain 90 kilograms in a single day.

This is an enormous physical stress on the already-starving mother whale, but it’s a successful strategy for them, as long as they can replenish that blubber when they need to.

When the time comes to leave the safety of the breeding ground, the whale travels with her baby to the Antarctic Ocean – to fill up and feast on massive swarms of calorific krill. Along the way she has to swim slowly, so the calf can keep up, and be wary of marauding pods of killer whales she might need to fend off.

All of this while she is basically starving, and becoming more and more weak.

The mammoth journey could be as long as 5,000 kilometres each way and last for four months, so getting to the krill-rich Antarctic feeding grounds uses up the very last of her strength.

But, eventually, she’s made it! She and her baby can now gorge themselves on delicious krill, allowing the youngster to grow even bigger and stronger – and the mother to replenish her strength and blubber reserves. They will spend the Antarctic summer feeding, growing and recovering.

Mama blue whale has the biggest heart on the planet, and her devotion to keep her baby safe crosses entire oceans.

Happy Mother’s Day!


The post Antarctic Mother’s Day appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

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