I live on the East Coast of the United Kingdom, in Kent not far out of Dover. When l walk my dog along the sea front, one of the first things l notice before the beauty is the sheer volume of garbage that has been washed up overnight and lies on the shores. It is usually worse after a storm, but it is no less pollutant just after a few tides.
There is all sorts of debris or flotsam that comes to the shore line and l have seen some truly remarkable things – things that l never thought would surface because of their weight, but of course that is the very nature of the sea currents, they are constantly moving and as they say there is nothing quite as powerful as a constant flow of water.
Metal rusted frames, bicycle skeletons, huge water drums, car parts, tyres, metal posts embedded in shattered concrete, broken pallets, parts of cargo containers, plastic walls, and enormous pieces of lumber, telegraph poles, and railway sleepers! Holed rowing boats, lobster traps, footballs, lamp shades, fishing nets, mannequin parts, tables, chairs, life savers, surfboard, dinghy, canoe, fishing buoys, cables, piping and the unusual list goes on. The things that you double take on and think ‘How on earth?’
Once many years ago and not in Kent, l came across a side of a small boat that had an enormous bite out of it!! That can make you shudder! When deep seated fear and fantasy becomes shore bound reality. But equally l have come across the sad remains of other things over my life, some from my own childhood.
I have sadly seen my fair share of dead bodies also, in Malaysia in the mid to late 60’s; it was not uncommon to see the battered body of a human being, a man or a woman and of sadder time’s babies and youngsters – discarded into the seas. I have seen scores of dead fish, crabs, dolphins, whales, sharks all washed ashore for whatever reason that death found them. The seas eventually spit out what they don’t want and that spitting’ can take many different guises.
Back to where l am today, one of the other more common pieces of garbage l see is that of plastic waste, tonnes of it is washed ashore almost daily – it is washed over the walls and flung high onto the ground and where l walk with my dog we see a continued reminder of just how wasteful and uncaring we are as a global community seemingly hell bent on destroying the only planet we have and filling up our oceans with our unwanted commercial waste products.
Every year up to 12 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans … 12 million tonnes!!Unbelievably a colossal figure, which will take centuries to degrade – if it does degrade fully. Around the world we have five known oceanic locations that are labelled ‘gyres’ of marine debris. An area three times the size of the United Kingdom has been adrift within the north Pacific for nearly thirty years.
Every year, thousands of sea animals are killed by either becoming entangled or consuming these plastic wastes. Sea Turtles, dolphins, sharks, whales, sea birds and fish die as a result of engaging in these gyres and other plastic quantities around the worlds’ oceans.
If we unite against this we can together defeat the flow of plastics into our oceans.
The biggest problem we have is that manufacturers are producing more plastics each and every year and not all of them are biodegradable plastics that can be recycled. Consumers have become more carefree with their waste disposal and the actual waste disposals are so over worked and understaffed that they are not able to have all the systems in place to deal with the constantly over filling waste dumps. It is only just over half of all global plastics made that can be recycled and with less than 1 in 10 recycled into new plastic bottles.
In the UK alone, as many as 16 million plastic bottles are dumped into the environment daily!
There are ways you can help:
1] Reuse plastic as much as you can.
2] Carry a reusable plastic bottle with you and both limit and reduce the amount of plastic you use daily!
3] If you see it ‘pick it up’ Picking up and disposing of just three pieces of plastic waste a day would make a considerable difference to the environment, can you imagine if everyone did it?
4] Invest in reusable shopping bags.
[On average 1 plastic bag is used for 12 minutes and YET can take nearly 1000 years to decompose!]
5] Where possible buy bulk and say no to plastic packaging
6] You don’t need to use a straw!
Straws are one of the landfills biggest enemies!
Bring your own straws! Glass or Steel alternatives
7] If you can use more glass instead of plastic. Use jars, recycle jars
8] Do you REALLY need disposable picnic products? Think about that
9] Think how much healthier you would be if you ‘didn’t’ buy a takeaway lunch which has throwaway packaging – but bring your own home made lunch to work with you
Be ever mindful to the harmful effects of BPA [Bisphenol A] which is a compound which is used to harden plastics but comes into contact with food and plastic water bottles and has been linked to in regards to exposure problems which can lead to health problems.
We need to combat the plastics in our oceans of that there is no doubt, but equally we need to reduce the sheer volume of produced and manufactured plastics as well as ‘wake up’ to the global problem itself and not just dance along care freely thinking it won’t affect us.
Because Too late – it is.
Don’t Just Chomp At The Bit – Do your Bit
…. Our Planet Needs Us.