If you watched the 6 o’clock news last week you may have heard about recent global studies surrounding the reality of plastic waste in our oceans.
Scientists and researchers have uncovered startling truths about the perpetual journey our plastic bottles, bags, containers and cosmetics embark on once they come to leave plain sight.
The Mariana Trench is the deepest underwater point on the planet, with a depth of 10,994 meters. By visual comparison, if Mount Everest were to invert underground, the trench would still stretch 2146 meters (2km) deeper.
All types of weird and wonderful marine life have been discovered at the bottom of this abyss, and sadly what’s come to disrupt their flourishing down under is the issue of plastic waste resulting from our mass consumer culture. These plastic particulates are being found inside even the smallest of fish species that live deep below us.
So how do we confront this gloomy truth in order to serve our planet and it’s fellow inhibitors more kindly? Nat Woods from Clean Coast Collective in Australia has some statistics and solutions that might help kick things into gear.
And hopefully have us finally remembering to utalise those trendy tote bags we bought on January 1st when we were full of promise and intent to be a better human…
Can you share with us some of the most sobering facts you have uncovered about the damage being done to our oceans and marine life?
The sobering reality is that current estimates are that there are over 5 trillion tonnes of plastic afloat in our oceans, of which the vast majority has been found to have originated on land (meaning that it flowed out to sea from beaches and inland waterways, rather than being dumped at sea from a vessel). And the key thing about plastic is that it never biodegrades (even if a company tells you it will), plastic only photodegrades, meaning that it doesn’t ‘disolve’ but rather continues to break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Plastic only began to be prevalently used in the 1950/60s, so if we consider that a piece of plastic can take between 500-1000 years to “break down” (into tiny pieces, mind you), then every single piece of plastic ever manufactured still exists today in some form. Now consider how long the average person will use a piece of plastic for – perhaps a plastic straw that they drink from for 15 minutes, or a set of plastic cutlery that they use for one meal – that’s the real sobering reality of plastic and our consumption habits.
What day to day values or changes do you hope people will be driven to embrace in supporting the work of Clean Coast Collective?
We want people to start to slow down. We’ve become a society obsessed with convenience and ‘busy-ness’. We’re too busy to stop and sit down to have our coffee, too busy to eat lunch away from our desks, too busy to cook ourselves a meal. Mealtimes used to be precious, now they’re seen as hassle interrupting our schedules. All this amounts to endless amounts of takeaway containers, cutlery and cups being used and tossed in the bin.
As a society, we need to slow down and value ourselves enough to devote five minutes to a morning coffee sitting down with a real coffee cup. Once you start to value yourself and the time you devote to yourself, you then want to give yourself the best, and grabbing a meal in a plastic takeaway container just doesn’t feel worthy anymore.
What few simple steps can you urge us to take in order to sustain these values?
Slow down. Make time for yourself. And take stock of how much waste you’re creating each day. How much are you tossing in your home or office bin? Once you realise how much you’re creating, you automatically want to start creating new habits that reduce this.
For more on Nat and to support The Clean Coast Collective, visit their website: http://www.cleancoastcollective.org
Image 1: Terence Connors
Image 2: Ratiana Leshkina
Image 3: Clean Coast Collective