Monday, 29 April 2013

Death by plastics ~ what are YOU doing about it?

Rubbish picked up from our own beach
I recently saw a film trailer which shocked and sickened me more than anything I have seen in recent years.  I challenge you, the reader, to click through and watch it for yourself.  It is about what is happening on Midway Island, a remote place in the heart of the Pacific: the Laysan albatrosses who use this island for nesting and rearing their young ingest objects of waste plastic mistaking it for food - and feed it to their chicks.  Very many of them do not survive...
Now take a look at this short video of the plastics that wash up on the beach - not just big stuff that can be picked up and carted somewhere out of the way, but numberless tiny fragments that wash in with every lapping wave to form a line along the sand - this is being ingested by every living thing that feeds there - micro-plastics for dinner...
It's heartbreaking - and irreversible.  It simply can't be cleaned up.  At best a portion of the bigger stuff can be removed, but the tiny fragments are there to stay and their volume is increasing all the time - or can someone tell me that the production and usage of plastics had reduced?  Dream on!  We must apply the brakes.

Our glorious beach - it could be anywhere in New Zealand - imagine it infested with fragments of micro-plastics!

My heartfelt view is that this horrifying phenomenon, which has always been completely foreseeable and preventable, can only be addressed by individuals taking responsibility for their own part in it.  Never mind that the film about the albatrosses shows a situation remote from our own shores: if we are to have any influence over the headlong course to ruin that we are all ultimately a part of each of us needs to have a good think about our own patterns of waste and indifference and start with how we live and what we do and do not buy - then act, not just now, but consistently and forever.

I have written a number of articles which relate directly to this topic which I list here complete with click-through links - in the hope that they will provide useful points of reference for readers.  Believe you me, I have been living what I recommend:
Packaging is one of the worst offenders:
There is absolutely no need to buy plastic-laden items for gifts on any occasion:
We don't actually need to buy the amount of new and pre-packaged stuff that is commonly available - we simply don't need to buy, or even to have, the amount of stuff that we think we do: we can make our own or mend and make do with what we already have - or share and swap what we have with others.  I've written lots of articles in this vein which can be found on these pages:
I'm sure that lots of readers would say that the world economy would collapse if we all reduced our consumption of new and ready made goods in the way that I suggest.  My view is that we can't afford not to - this planet is the only home we have and the results of our wasteful way of life are rapidly accumulating on all sides; they look set to overwhelm not only us, but multitudes of blameless creatures and other life forms as well.  Those of you who have seen the children's cartoon movie, "Wall-E" will recognise the scenario, especially the opening scenes - of deserted cities piled mountainously high with waste.   

For the sake of this Good Earth, when you are out on your walks if you spot litter pick it up!   I would not believe for one moment that anyone reading my articles would drop rubbish themselves!  I've written about one of my litter collections here:
Polystyrene foam is one of the worst offenders as it it not known to ever decompose - just rapidly disintegrates in to smaller and smaller particles.  Pick it up if you can.


I'm about to start on a campaign of letter writing to businesses whose products I buy which are packed in plastic, and to my supermarkets suggesting they offer packing in paper rather than plastic bags.

I'm sure you have your own ideas of what could help.

If I sound somewhat militant here it is because I'm upset - I can't watch the video about the birds without crying.   
The cry of "My God, what have we done!" must be followed by "What can we do?" - and then doing it - now and forever.
I feel deeply about birds so will close with this poem:
Everyone Sang
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields;
On - on - and out of sight.

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun;
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away… O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless;
The singing will never be done.

Siegfried Sasson

A young shag rests on our beach

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