Katharine Wootton

Springwatch's Chris Packham - "I don't do sell-by dates"

Katharine Wootton
Springwatch's Chris Packham - "I don't do sell-by dates"

As Springwatch returns to our tellies this week, presenter Chris Packham has a very important plea for nature-lovers to watch out for waste. 

"About twenty years ago, the world's largest ever leatherback turtle was washed up in south Wales," says Chris. "These animals roam all over the world, mainly in places like Indonesia, but they are in northern water too. They're the largest marine reptile that we have – these creatures were around before the dinosaurs.

 A magnificent leatherback turtle 

A magnificent leatherback turtle 

"And yet, when an autopsy was performed on this whale, they found the reason this magnificent animal had died was because its stomach was congested with plastic bags. It's possible this animal was in excess of 150 years old meaning it would have emerged from an egg somewhere in the world long before plastic was even invented. In its lifetime, we had invented something, mass produced it and dumped it to the extent that we had killed this animal. It was a tragedy and something that highlights how our actions can have an effect on wildlife."

Now Chris wants the public to join in with Keep Britain Tidy's campaign to reduce plastic bag usage and do your bit to help keep the streets and oceans of Britain litter-free. 

"I want individuals to know they can make a difference themselves," says Chris. "We have the power to solve these problems in the world ourselves. I feed the birds in my garden and know that some of those species benefit because of my actions."

Recycling is another battle cry of Chris's. "I'm the most fastidious recycler you'll ever come across. I'm completely OCD about it. I got into the recycling habit about 1990 and now if someone puts something in the wrong bin, I go mad. 

"I sort through the bin to make sure my partner Charlotte hasn't put something in the wrong bin. Food wastage is a complete anathema to me, too. I don't do sell-by dates, I just get sick occasionally. I hate the idea of wasting food."

Now, Chris' latest challenge is about bringing down his carbon footprint. "I'm currently doing a carbon audit. My objective – bearing in mind I have to fly a lot for work – is to become completely carbon neutral. I've been uncomfortable about the impact of my flying for a long time so I'm trying to address that."

  • Springwatch is on weekdays, 8pm, BBC2
  • Chris' book Fingers in the Sparkle Jar: A Memoir is out in paperback now