Environmental problems associated with worldwide overuse of plastics, and in particular single use plastics, are now regularly highlighted by mainstream and social media. Media images are often distressing as they portray the environmental impact on various habitats whether on land or within the Earth’s precious waters. Seeking solutions to the problems faced seems an overwhelming, if not impossible, task.

When I started shotgun shooting earlier this year, I was completely unaware of the potential negative impact that wads from fired cartridges might have on our environment. Shotguns are one of the most commonly manufactured and utilised firearms across the world leading to the possibility of many shooters being unaware of the potential consequences to the environment.

Wads that have been carelessly discarded may all too easily enter animal and human food chains as non-biodegradable plastic debris at any point. These wads can then have a severe impact on the sensitive habitats within our world, damaging them and harming their inhabitants.

Even though plastic wads might eventually break down after a very long time, they never completely disappear. They break down into micro-plastics. These extremely harmful micro-plastics enter the aquatic ecosystem, the same ecosystem from which we harvest our seafood products. Personally, I wouldn’t like to eat plastic, and I am sure that others wouldn’t like to either!

The shooting community can address the environmental issues within its control. Education and effective communication will spread awareness of the existing potentially harmful effects of incorrect disposal of spent cartridges. Investment into new biodegradable alternatives, researching the potential of biodegradable cardboard shells and fibre wads is an alternative to plastic, recycling and upcycling should be the priority for the shooting community.

By making small changes, the shooting community can contribute to the overall wellbeing of our planet. We might not be equipped to tackle the whole environmental issue but the small changes we can make add up and make a difference.

Seren Middleton

My name is Seren, I’m 13-years-old. I’ve been attending game fairs since I was a toddler and actively taking part in the many activities they offer. This encouraged my love of the countryside and, more recently, shotgun shooting. I’m currently having shotgun lessons and have the ambition of shooting competitively in the future. In fact, I’d love to represent my country in the Olympics one day! I often tag along with my dad when he goes deer stalking and he’s taught me lots about deer management. I have four dogs and 18 chickens which keep me pretty busy when I’m not at school. As a teenager with access to the internet and the media, I’m very aware of the impact that we humans are having on our planet. I’m living in a time where so many things are considered ‘disposable’ and I know that this isn’t sustainable in the long-term. I’d love to be able to investigate new products and alternative ways of doing things within the sport of shooting and spread awareness.

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