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Captain Buster enlists sociologist in plastics crusade


A fun film teaching kids about the perils of plastic pollution looked to Brunel sociology lecturer Dr Lesley Henderson to help get the message across.

Released globally for the UN’s World Environment Day, Litter Things Matter aims to inspire children to use less plastic, recycle, and pester parents and families to join in.

Its producers, environmental education network Wastebuster, asked Dr Henderson, who researches how people understand plastic pollution, to help get the script right.

“Children appear to have been overlooked when it comes to messages about environmentally friendly use and disposal of plastics,” said Dr Henderson.

“This is a missed opportunity, because single-use plastics such as straws and balloons are culturally embedded as birthday party essentials, and children are well placed to promote pro-social behaviour within their families.”

Following Captain Buster and Cadet Boo’s special mission to Earth to prevent plastic pollution, the video, which reached more than 1.3m people in 16 countries, links to education campaigns in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.  Its creator, Wastebuster CEO Katy Newnham, started the non-profit after seeing the horrors of plastic pollution first hand working as an underwater photographer.

One big problem in persuading people to recycle and avoid single-use plastics, Dr Henderson’s research shows, is that some, especially poorer people, feel their everyday actions do not matter. Another difficulty is that people who live far from the sea feel the problem is ‘far away’. “I’m delighted with how the film emphasises how everyone can make a difference,” she said.

Dr Henderson also advised on award-nominated documentary A Plastic Ocean along with Brunel University London ecotoxicologist Professor Susan Jobling.

Reported by:

Hayley Jarvis, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268176