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#OneLess campaign: ZSL to make London free from single-use plastic water bottles | Box Appetit

| by Drew Middleton

#oneless, one less campaign, zsl, london zoo

Launched in 2016, the relatively new #OneLess campaign aims to awaken Londoners and the UK’s eyes to the ever-growing issues surrounding plastic pollution.

We break down the campaign’s key goals, the importance of the ocean and Thames in London and Selfridges’ Project Ocean. Alongside this, we help define how to make your pledge, seek environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic and create a community that actively tackles plastic pollution. 

What is ZSL’s #OneLess Campaign?

The One Less Campaign was launched by Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in conjunction with nine Marine CoLABoration partners. It’s purpose: to abolish and rid the UK’s capital city of single-use plastic water bottles by 2021.

ZSL, commonly referred to as London Zoo, promotes worldwide conservation for animals and habitats.

plastic pollution, zsl #oneless

Their angle with this movement is to protect oceanic environments (and bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes) from pollution and harmful waste caused by disposable plastic.

“We welcome more than one million visitors a year to ZSL London Zoo, and that’s one million people we can inspire to help protect the world’s oceans” - Kathryn England, Head of Commercial at ZSL

Both the ZSL London and Whipsnade zoos have now removed all plastic bottles from their shelves. It’s a decision that’s made positive headline news across the UK as 76% of plastic (almost four tons worth) is not reused or recycled.

Their sustainable narrative is applicable planet-wide, however, London is fast becoming an important port of call for immediate influential action.

London: A Coastal City

“As Londoners, our lives are inextricably linked to the ocean through the River Thames”

zsl, one less campaign, london, thames, ocean, plastic pollution

Rivers transport oxygen, water, clean air, fish, nutrients and weather between ocean and land. In the case of the River Thames, these elements of nature are funneled from the North Sea to the City of London.

Unmistakably, these open areas of sea water can become contaminated when humans dispose of plastic defined as ‘single-use’ i.e. bottles/containers/bags which are generally used once before being discarded.

less plastic, refuse single-use plastic

These tend not to be reusable or recycled, and some are manufactured with potentially harmful chemicals. With changes in water currents, plastic can float from the Thames to the ocean where it may reside and pollute for centuries.

Poisonous chemicals also leach into the ecosystem as they float and degrade. Horrible thought, no?

plastic bag, waste, environment, #oneless

Many laws across the globe now aim to counteract plastic pollution including: a 5p charge per supermarket carrier bag used in the UK, both France nationwide and Delhi (capital city of India) banning disposable plastic etc.

Put simply, this is London’s next best effort to follow suite and become an example of a more eco-friendly city leading the environmental cause in Europe.

Building On The Success Of  ‘Project Ocean’

“We aim to drive awareness of the serious threat plastic poses to our oceans; in particular single-use plastic bottles”  - Alannah Weston, Deputy Chairman of Selfridges Group

one less campaign, project ocean, selfridges

First launched in 2011, high-end department store Selfridges in partnership with ZSL set-up ‘Project Ocean’: an annual commitment to fight the growing problem of plastic.

Its main goals are to reduce harmful waste and facilitate behavioral changes around plastic usage in everyday society.

Their primary mission: to protect 10% of the world’s oceans by 2020.

By educating the general public of the ‘Reduce - Reuse - Recycle’ system for plastic,  their narrative is thought-provoking. One simple method is to invest in a reusable glass, steel (or BPA-free plastic) water bottle.

This will cut your use of disposable plastic while allowing you to refill and hydrate regularly, then recycle in the far future.  Watch the Project Ocean info-video below:

Key facts raised:

  • The ocean is our planet’s life support; it regulates climate, contains 80% of life on Earth, and provides more oxygen than all of the world’s rainforests combined
  • 60-80% of all marine debris is plastic: it kills animals and breaks down into our food stream
  • Partnered to create Marine Reserves Coalition:  teamed with Greenpeace, ZSL, Blue Marine Foundation, Marine Conservation Society, The PEW Trusts
  • Ensure no endangered fish or sold or served at Selfridges: formed a guide to help customers navigate away from endangered sea life

project ocean

However, in 2015, Selfridges’ most noteworthy statement was made by removing all single-use plastic water bottles from their food halls and restaurants across the UK. This accounted for around 400,000 bottles each year - which makes for a huge reduction in plastic waste.

From unique food events to artistically gripping window installations and limited edition retail items, the success of Project Ocean continues.

It has helped pave the way for new campaigns such as #OneLess which provide both powerful and personal environmental messages.

Begin Your Personal Commitment To One Less Campaign... Today

steel water bottle, resusable bottle, box appetit

Many of us possess a certain level of apathy when it comes to our own personal waste. This mindset can be recalibrated via consistent education and awareness campaigns, yet both individual and community changes need to happen… now.

The #OneLess campaign recommends a small switch, from purchasing shop-bought water bottles to carrying a refillable bottle daily, as a pledge to ocean care.

To read up on further inspiring topics and understand the raw facts, see our articles that report on and investigate plastic and its pollutive lifecycle:

  1. France becomes the first country to ban single-use plastic including cups, utensils, and plates | September 2016
  2. The Story of Stuff Project is helping to build a plastic-free Earth | July 2016
  3. Plastic Pollution Coalition teams with Hollywood environmental campaigner Jeff Bridges to reduce plastic waste | April 2016

Seek Environmentally Friendly Alternatives


The most eco-friendly options available to you are reusable bottles made from glass or stainless steel. Ideally, you want to invest in one that you can carry on the go for hydration whenever require it.

Glass and steel materials help to dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. They are sustainable, greener than plastic and they are easily recycled materials alongside paper, cardboard, and wood.

However, if you are going to use plastic on a daily basis, ensure it’s reusable and chemical-free. There’s no need to buy bottled water, juice and fizzy drinks from the shop.

drinking water, tap water, potable water, reusable water bottle. refill

This is not only an expensive method of hydration but the number of plastic bottles that become part of landfill is obscene, with between 5.5 and 14.6 million tons entering the ocean each year.

Refill your bottle when you have access to drinkable water and you are good to go.

Inspire Others To Make The #OneLess Campaign Pledge


ZSL’s efforts do not stop at personal commitments. Inspire your close friends, family, colleagues and social media connections to make the pledge against plastic.

To do this, simply: take a selfie or photo with your refillable bottle, then post in social media (Twitter, Instagram) with the hashtag #OneLess - and be sure to tag @OneLessBTL if tweeting.

environmental debate, plastic pollution

Also word of mouth, real-world conversation and debate can go far. Openly speaking about environmental topics such as climate change, animal conservation, and plastic pollution can inspire people to take action. It’s healthy to do so.

If you are a business owner too, consider removing all single-use bottles from the office environment and replace with alternatives or water fountains. A tactic that has been proven for communal everyday change.

Final Thoughts

clean, ocean, no pollution, zero waste, no waste, no plastic

We, as a design company, believe in the One Less campaign’s message passionately. It’s a fantastic building block for environmental change and we consider sustainability at every stage of our product development.

How can we be more environmentally friendly? How do our designs benefit the planet, now and in future?

If London - one of the Western world’s most prestigious, historic and diverse cities - can reduce its high levels of plastic pollution and harmful waste, it can inspire others to follow in its green footsteps.

To learn more about ZSL’s One Less campaign, email: [email protected]

So are you making the One Less pledge? Let us know by voting below…

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