I couldn’t help it when a groan slipped out while reading yet another email about horrible, terrible, very bad plastic. Another outcry against the toxic, non biodegradable stuff, killing the poor innocent creatures of the ocean, blah blah blah. All this while sitting comfortably in my warm home, sipping tea to my heart’s content.
I live so far away from the Texas-sized swirling vortex of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean and all the litter lining every shoreline on earth. It’s easy to ignore one little email and go on with my day when I’m not face to face with it.
Well, lucky for us that there’s a group of guys who decided to make it their business:
For three years, Bryson Robertson took to the seas with some friends from his native South Africa and documented the global plastic catastrophe. Robertson is still trekking across the planet, giving presentations on his voyage and warning against the dangers that plastics impose on the ocean.
- 50% of plastic floats. It sits at all levels of the water column, which affects fauna and flora through the entire ocean. It sits innocently, mimicking a jellyfish, and then BAM, a turtle dies because it mistook it for lunch.
- Just clean up the beaches, you say? Sadly, only 5% of beach garbage isn’t plastic. The bulk of the garbage breaks up into little pellets, making it very difficult to collect.
- There are 5 permanent gyres in oceans where plastics & other debris accumulate. Five plastic islands.
- While plastic bottles can be recycled where facilities exist, you can’t make a new plastic bottle from it. In other words, you can REcycle it, but not DOWNcycle it.
So this brings us to the familiar song and dance. Reduce your plastic intake, drink tap water, and tell your family and friends about it. It’s a great song, and dancing is always fun when people join in.
In other words, our local actions have global consequences, and you should be able to feel good about making a difference each time you bring your own bag on shopping trips. It isn’t anything to groan about.
Like me, you’re probably changing your wardrobe to acclimate to the Canadian climate. While you’re tucking away your Bahama swimming shorts and flowery tank tops, make sure to shelf apathy and indifference. You may rather be sitting beach-side with a mojito watching the sun set, but that fantasy may become nothing but en empty fish bowl if we don’t each take steps towards protecting the plants and animals that live in the tropics.