TO celebrate the Year of Young People, every week in 2018 The National is giving a platform to young people in Scotland. This week, 26-year-old scientist Charlotte Young

I’LL never forget the day my parents took me to Bristol Zoo. I was five years old, extremely excitable and the thought of seeing elephants, lions and monkeys for the first time blew my mind.

The whole day I ran from one exhibit to the next, trying my best to press myself through glass, leaving sticky finger and face prints on each viewing window before racing to the next. But it wasn’t until I entered the elephant house and heard the low rumble and shrill trumpet of a 40-year-old Asian elephant that my future was decided for me.

After leaving the zoo that day, my obsession with animals grew. My 30 minutes a night of rationed internet access on a 1990s PC was spent looking up species on Wikipedia. The passion continued throughout my teens and before I knew it I’d graduated from the University of the West of England, Bristol with a degree in Conservation Biology. Then in September I began an MRes at the University of Glasgow looking at coral reefs and the movement of carbon.

During my degree I learnt of the power of science and how it could be used to understand the world around us and to safeguard species. Since then I have worked within the realms of marine science and much of my work has been on an issue that is tiny in nature but poses a mighty threat.

Microfibres are small, synthetic fibres emitted from your clothes when washed in washing machines. They end up in our oceans and in our fields through discharged waste water and sewage sludge. Once they enter these ecosystems, fibres are often ingested by a variety of organisms, including many fish and shellfish species that we eat. Microplastic ingestion has been contributed to adverse health affects in a number of marine organisms and its presence in the food we eat could expose us to harmful plastic-related chemicals known to be toxic.

Microfibres are the most abundant form of plastic pollution in the marine environment, yet despite the threat they pose they are being forgotten. That is why I have launched a campaign to make sure it is no more. I’ve called it Fight The Fibre.

The campaign calls for action against microfibre pollution and I’m working with other passionate and like-minded people to lobby government for efficient microfibre filters to be included on all washing machines.

On Monday I will be taking part in the Glasgow Pint of Science festival, where I’ll be speaking about the issue, raising awareness and gathering support for the parliamentary petition.

It is vital that we get the conversation about microfibers started, that we continue to ride the plastic tide of change that is happening, but most importantly, that we start to fight the fibre. It’s a problem that can’t be washed away.

Pint of Science Festival runs from Monday to Wednesday in cities including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. For full listings see