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Joanna Lumley calls on Boris Johnson to tax single-use plastics

Ian West/PA Wire

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Joanna Lumley has said Brexit has distracted politicians from focusing on environmental issues, as she called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce a levy on single-use plastic bottles.

The Absolutely Fabulous actress said the reliance on water bottles made of plastic is causing an environmental crisis which will destroy the planet.

She told PA: "I think it sometimes is extremely hard when there is something grabbing the headlines.

"But I am now going to say something a bit controversial, I think that women are able to cope with lots of different things at the same time so the single issue thing might be a man thing, I'm just thinking of Brexit, I'm sorry, I can't think of anything else.

"We (women) are always having to think of a thousand different things and I think women go 'Brexit, I wonder what is going to happen then... but look about this water...' and I think we can do that and at the same time we can wonder what time the children are coming back from school and what we are going to cook for supper and how we are going to do stuff on top of that.

"We can do a lot of those things, so maybe this is something that women have to wake up to."

She added: "You've got water in your home, it's called tap, so it is largely up to the women and if in the fridge there is always a jug of delicious water or a bottle of water, cold and ready for you to take out, maybe women at home have to do that.

"Whether you're a mother or a housewife or a single person or a person like me, just caring, just do it. It's not so hard.

"We all hated wearing safety belts and guess what, we do it, it's just as simple as that. Just change now, do it today."

Lumley, who is backing a campaign by Brita to reduce the consumption of bottled water, continued: "I'm sure that taxing single-use plastic is the way to go, just to make people think twice about it.

"Either they won't buy it or they know they can get money back which then puts the weight back onto recyclers.

"So much of our lives depends on plastic so we have to be careful not to go insane about it but what we have got to do is be more responsible about it.

"What I would love to see is the petrochemical companies saying 'OK this is the plastic, use it and we will pay you to bring it back again, when you bring it back again we can recycle it.'

"We have got to face up to this, it's no point in saying 'it wasn't me guv', it is us guv, it's my fault, we have got to get it right.

"Let's ask the Government to be tougher about it and let's ask the manufacturers and the retailers and then finally let's ask us."

Lumley said she believes it is important to use her platform to draw attention to issues she cares about, adding: "Almost the only benefit of fame, I would say, is being able to draw attention to things.

"That is all fame is worth, it's worth nothing else. But if you've got it for whatever reason it's usually just from being on things, like on television shows.

"A prima ballerina is not famous, she will walk down the street and you won't notice her, an opera singer won't be noticed, but television makes you famous so now you've got it, you're wearing it like a badge and you can't get it off, it's more like a tattoo.

"So use the tattoo beautifully and make sure that what you espouse is a true and good cause, put that in the front of your heart.

"Money is always lovely but make sure that behind it is something that you truly believe in and if you can influence a few people to think 'I will try that', that sounds like a good thing."

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