As social media users, we receive a bombardment of single use plastic item reducing social media posts (oh no, here’s another one) and as a result, perhaps, just perhaps the cries to bring this assault on our environment are being heard and acted upon? It’s exciting to see or hear about folk taking a genuine interest in cutting down on the consumption of wasteful packaging in their day-to-day lives (which has far outweighed the importance of recycling it). It is encouraging to read about proposed government bans on certain items globally too. According to “Plastic Oceans UK”, 300 million tonnes of plastic is manufactured each year and half of that is destined to be a single use item – used for just a few seconds before being thrown “away” (wherever “away” is).
We have all heard about ocean plastic gyres, circulating a global gloopy mess of toxin attracting micro plastics, which then goes on to find its way up the food chain. As do we all know that the stuff chokes our wildlife and its potential carcinogenic properties when we finally come to consume it. But, with any news, whether it’s war, politics or natural disasters, it’s easy to scroll on to the next “news” item (cat videos, airport check in’s, pictures of peoples dinners etc) then turn the phone or ipad off and think about something else – it’s just what we do. Talk about something too much, and we become conditioned to it and we start to digest less of the information and eventually it gets boring.
Wherever my diving projects took me in 2017, they provided me with more than an insight into this well documented ocean full of plastic. Sadly, I really didn’t have to look far for these these endless social media posts to be brought to life and upon witnessing this global issue for myself in 2017, more than any other year, the posts simply yelled – the struggle is real!
Wherever I went, be it Egypt, the Philippines, Mexico, Portugal or the UK, I saw the same story and strongly felt the need to document it.
Xcalak at the south eastern foot of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is reported on Wikipedia as being “one of the last, unspoilt stretches of the Mexican Caribbean”. Sadly, the beaches here now come with a seemingly endless tideline of plastic pollution. As do many of the less populated beaches of Mexico’s Cozumel Island – unless they’re associated with a resort, where a team of people is sent out to tidy the place up. Muck diving in the Philippines was where I would witness clown fish often living in crisp packets, of nappies, rather than their usual anemone home. The tide of plastic bottles on a beach in Egypt compared equally to the tide of plastic items I discovered along one of Portugal’s most beautiful stretches of coastline. The barrier of mainly fishing gear and fishing related flotsam and jetsam on Chesil beach, post storm, paints quite an interesting picture too.
Today, It’s genuinely difficult to be shocked into action as we are plied with “news” and “stories” throughout the day on our devices. But for me, having seen the same scene play out over and over again in real time whilst in or on the ocean, I’ve ramped up my efforts to do my bit and to try to stop buying the stuff, way before I think about recycling it.