Opinion: The founder of Beach Buddies writes about how litter is damaging the environment

If you weren’t brought to tears by some of the images and stories during the Drowning in Plastic documentary by Liz Bonnin on BBC television then you need to rethink your life.

We have been saying this for years, but it is now clearer than ever that the human race has caused more damage to the earth in the last 20 years than in the millions of years the planet has been in existence.

The images of animals needlessly dying as they swim around the oceans simply trying to stay alive are the most disturbing we have seen, and the image of the baby seal which died by being choked by a piece of plastic twine will resonate with people in the Isle of Man, because there was a seal in similar circumstances at The Sound, photographed by one of our volunteers earlier this year.

We haven’t received any further images of that seal, which could mean it may also have had the same fate. It also makes you wonder how many seabirds are dying in the Isle of Man after being fed with small pieces of plastic.

To anyone who may have thought that chucking empty crisp packets, sweet wrappers or any plastic items in the street "won’t make any difference" then maybe last night’s programme will make you understand what we have been saying for so many years.

Thank goodness all the Isle of Man’s schools are highly aware of these issues, and many thanks are due to every school in the Isle of Man for allowing us to make presentations during this last two years to raise awareness and show our children that things MUST change in the future.

We are so fortunate to have a fantastic spirit in the Isle of Man and thousands of volunteers keeping our beaches free from litter. We are doing our best, setting a worldwide example and making a real difference, but it looks like we will have much, much more to cope with if Liz Bonnin’s statistics come true - a 500% increase in plastics in the oceans in the next ten years!

Only a few decades ago the oceans were places of beauty, bursting with life. But we have completely messed up everything - meanwhile governments make us all focus on nonsense like Brexit and growing the economy. We have lost sight of what REALLY matters.

Even if we have never thrown rubbish in the streets, we all have to share the responsibility and we should all be ashamed of ourselves for allowing this to happen.

More than ever ’it’s not enough to just stand and stare’.