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‘I was dismissed as out of touch’: Prince Charles says he warned of dangers of plastic 40 years ago


By Jennifer McShane
02nd Nov 2018
‘I was dismissed as out of touch’: Prince Charles says he warned of dangers of plastic 40 years ago

A topic of frequent conversation when it comes to environmental issues is the plastic crisis that we are currently experiencing. Companies and brands around the world are banding together in an attempt to tackle the issue, but a member of the royal family says he forewarned of this very situation almost four decades ago, and was dismissed at the time.

Related: Burberry, H&M, Zara among fashion brands helping to combat global ‘plastic crisis’

In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Prince Charles explained that he had felt passionate about green issues from climate change to global warming since he was a teenager. In the profile, which was taken to mark his 7oth birthday on November 14th, the Prince of Wales recalled a speech from 1970 in which he spoke out about the dangers of “indestructible plastic containers” but said his views were deemed “old-fashioned” at the time.

“I don’t really see any value in saying, ‘I told you so,’ he said of the current situation.

“As a teenager I remember feeling deeply about this appallingly excessive demolition job being done on every aspect of life . . . In putting my head above the parapet on all these issues, and trying to remind people of their long-term, timeless relevance to our human experience — never mind trying to do something about them — I found myself in conflict with the conventional outlook,” he explained.

“Nobody was really interested and I was considered old-fashioned, out of touch and ‘anti-science’ for warning of such things.”

“One of my duties has been to find solutions to vast challenges we face over accelerating climate change. However, it seems to take forever to alert people to the scale of the challenge. Over 40 years ago I remember making a speech about the problems of plastic and other waste, but at that stage, nobody was really interested and I was considered old-fashioned, out of touch and ‘anti-science’ for warning of such things,” he continued. “If we don’t engage with these issues, and many other related and critical problems that they inevitably compound, we will all be victims.”

 

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The speech he recalled took place in 1970 at a countryside conference in Cardiff, when he was 21.

“When you think that each person produces roughly 21lb of rubbish per day and there are 55 million of us on this island using non-returnable bottles and indestructible plastic containers, it is not difficult to imagine the mountains of refuse that we shall have to deal with somehow,” he said at the time.