Being alive and able to read in this day and age it’s highly likely you’ve heard about the plastic pollution problem that is threatening our environment and future generations. Studies, articles and pictures come up in our feeds and the news on a daily basis. Especially, if you’re interested in activities involving nature and hang around sites related to National Parks, World’s Beaches, Best Diving Sites, Dive Destinations, Hiking Trails etc… or if you’re into culture and history and look into World Heritage Sites and Third World Cultures or Global Economies and major issues facing nations.
You’ve likely also heard, at least once, about “the Great Pacific Garbage Patch”(or the gyres) and the, now, argument about what it actually is. Promising us another few years to be wasted until “they”, whoever they might be, are convinced that there is something called the Garbage Patch – because they invariably can never just go out and look at it for themselves, they have to be convinced through talks. There is one thing for certain that comes from all sides of the environmentalists and scientists who have seen and researched the area. Even if the patch is not a huge garbage dump made of all types of plastic bottles, nets, caps making up a floating island, and it’s mostly invisible from above having gone through the tides of time, salt water and major storms – there IS a huge problem that is caused by plastic in our oceans.
All you have to do if you are skeptical is to stand by the beach on any island – from US shores to Japan to Africa to Australia, and just look around. There are LOTS of plastics washing ashore. Most times, they are extremely small to be picked up by hand, others have labeling in different languages signaling to production and consumption on foreign lands.
I know it’s true – I’ve seen it on Okinawa, Bonaire and beaches of California. They all broke my heart to bits. The pictures of the turtles and dolphins flashing back in my mind, it became extremely clear to me that every piece of plastic was at one point in one of our hands. They held the water that hydrated us while we were working out, the Diet Coke at the office BBQ, the straws the kids were happily using at the birthday party in the backyard, the caps we had meant to collect to give to donation – the toothbrushes, shampoo containers, empty oil bottles that were mindlessly discarded as just “garbage”. And of course, the most important and memorable are those plastic bags that we carried the drinks from the grocery store to the beach party. All of those items are now threatening the very core of our food chain – the entire seas and their ever fragile ecological balance from corals to whales.
This is HOW we are connected.
The sadder truth to all of this is that we have a solution for almost every single bit of these things. We can find the recyclable, biodegradable alternatives. We can choose to give more time, money and energy into proper recycling practices across cities and bigger communities. We can demand manufacturers to only make recyclable materials by only purchasing them and not the alternative “cheaper” products. This is not just about picking up what we see on our streets anymore, it’s the neighboring ones too. Any street that we pass, any bin that we see. Any beach that we sit on. They are all ours. Any material that fails to reach its proper recycling facility succeeds to harm and threaten the beauty of that snorkeling experience we are looking to have when we go to one of the far off islands. Not to mention the health and nutrition of the seafood we will be having that night directly impacting our own well-being.
To relate some of what really shook me – I will be posting photos from Bonaire. Right off the east coast facing Venezuela. A remote part of the world, difficult to access until just a couple of years ago, still very limited “tourist” activity on this shore due to high waves and wind. Unfamiliar land, familiar junk.
In a different post I’ll add the photos I’d captured in Okinawa – right off the south coast facing Taiwan. Again remote shores littered with plastics from easily accessible products.
Unfortunately the examples are limitless. They are on every coast, even Hawaii – the Paradise Islands!
Meanwhile check out this link on the National Geographic site – #plastics – full of plastic debris captured by travelers around the world.
Armed with this alarming information I am dedicating the next few months of my life into getting involved first hand – taking part in the research (the state of various oceans and marine life) – finding and proposing solutions and organizing and participating in clean-ups. Providing information about the threats that we face on the different islands and coastal habitats.
Learning about solutions and ideas we are in need of and looking for help to find ways to apply, or others that are already implemented and are making a difference.
Asking businesses I come across on a daily basis – restaurants, cafes, bookshops, hotels, etc – how they might be able to implement a small change or influence a wider action in their industries.
Together we can resolve this problem because the solution is right here. It’s US. You and me and all those around us who unavoidably use plastics. We have options. It really is simple, and there is no reason to wait 10, 20, 30 years as the “leaders” of the world say will take to make a change. People and nations do these daily! They decide a change is needed and they just do it. California is a prime example, they banned many single use plastics, collectively accepted the need for recycling, changed their curriculum in education raising kids who are all aware of the impact every single one of us have and are reducing individual waste, while the majority of the rest of the nation is still in debate on the topic.
My goal in all of this is to connect the solution providers (the ones with ideas, methods, products etc.) to those who are in need of a solution – (businesses looking to reduce the plastics, cities looking to improve the health of their waterways etc). Give those of us who are aware of the situation the opportunity to extend our passion, skills and expertise to the areas that really need them.
Not sure how this blog will truly take shape yet. It might start off as a hodgepodge of my own photos of the discarded plastics I find, my own commentary etc. Some days might just be a couple of links to sites by amazing people and organizations who’ve dedicated themselves to this cause already. I’m just taking the leap and starting somewhere. Hang with me here. 😃
My vision is to have a collection of the changes we made in a full year. We might only have 2, or maybe by a miracle we can have one per month. There’ll be a list of challenges faced and things we still need to overcome. Whatever the number, big or small, it will have an impact and we will have done it together.