Musician Dougie Poynter on why he wants to encourage the UK's biggest venues to ditch plastic
The INK. bassist recalls his wild and wonderful trip with WWF at the Tempus Earth Gala
Dougie Poynter is perhaps best known for his astronomical rise to fame with pop-rock band McFly, but after 15 years of touring the world's most illustrious music venues and stadiums, the bass player has been inspired by some of the London venues taking a stand against the impact of plastic.
Poynter's music career began with McFly when he was just 15 years old, a British band that would see the bass player and his bandmates Tom Fletcher, Danny Jones and Harry Judd become household names, breaking the record for youngest group to have a No.1 charting album, before forming supergroup McBusted in 2013.
His latest project is rock band INK., formed with vocalist and guitarist Tod Dorigo and drummer Corey Alexander, who have just completed a month-long tour of the UK's grassroots clubs – and supported the likes of Marilyn Manson along the way. The band celebrated the end of the tour by attending the Tempus Earth Conservation Gala at the Dorchester London on 31 May, an event promoting wildlife conservation and which raised £100,000 in aid of WWF.
"The tour was rad. We played 20-odd shows around the UK over the month – many in very small clubs. What's interesting is the amount of plastic that is at venues that just gets chucked into landfills [at the end of a gig]," Poynter told Tempus, recalling how he witnessed the "sea of plastic cups" left on venue floors after a performance had ended.
"Fortunately, there are places like London's The O2 that has an on-site recycling facility, and they even recycle chewing gum left under seats and turn that into recycled cups," he said. "What I'd really love to see is venues following what The O2 is doing." >>
The anti-plastic movement is gaining traction in recent months as the reality of plastic pollution in our oceans has featured in high profile programmes such as Sir David Attenborough's Blue Planet as well as WWF campaigns. But it's not the first time Poynter has been involved with WWF – he joined them on a wildlife conservation trip seven years ago.
"[McFly] did some small things here and there with WWF, trying to get kids involved and active. Then I was lucky enough to be sent on a trip to the Virunga Volcanoes, where the mountain gorillas are marooned on these volcanic islands," he said. "Back in the 1970s there were only 300-400 left in the wild. By the time I got there, there were 700 and now I think the numbers have increased to around 900."
While on the trip, Poynter was reminded that despite being used to humans thanks to the pioneering work of primatologist and conservationist Dian Fossey, the gorillas are still entirely wild animals. "I got a little too up close and personal," he laughed. "The WWF say when you go in, you know, this isn't a petting zoo. The first group of gorillas we visited had been habituated from the Dian Fossey days, but the second group had only been habituated for three years. The silver back and black back gorillas of the group were not happy to see us – and we got charged at a couple of times."