I originally wrote this over a year ago for the Muscles Not Motors Website, for which I am thankful to be a ‘spoke‘, a few months ago but feel compelled to share on this site as well. It’s a never ending story, one we hear time and time again…that is why I try to offer a solution or at least a challenge to myself and to you all vs just ranting! Please read and remember the 4 R’s: REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE & RECYCLE!
Being an outdoor enthusiast, lover of the outdoors, tree hugger, dirt worshiper, earth mama, grass sniffer, forest freak, ocean lover, sun worshiper…whatever name you want to give it…I feel a need to protect these beloved playgrounds from the waste of our existence.
Plastic is abundant on our shores, in our ocean and thus in our bodies. It finds a way to entangle itself around rocks, roots, and marine life and in a vast plastic wasteland in the Pacific Ocean called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is roughly the size of Texas, containing approximately 3.5 million tons of trash. Shoes, toys, bags, pacifiers, wrappers, toothbrushes, and bottles too numerous to count are only part of what can be found in this accidental dump floating midway between Hawaii and San Francisco.
After a cold January surf session in New England a few days ago, as Skye and I were eating some grub, he paused to work something out of his ear. Assuming it was yet another piece of seaweed, he was about to flick it when he stopped, looked at, it and found that it was a piece of plastic from the ocean.
Plastic is a marvel of a creation. Some might even call it man’s greatest creation. It surrounds us every where we look. It is durable, versatile, adaptable, transferable and universal. There is nothing in the world quite like plastic. It’s been estimated that it takes over 1,000 years for a single piece of plastic to break down. That’s an amazing invention on the part of the human race. But wait, 1,000 years…how long does mama earth have? Plastic is forever. How many times have we heard that saying? As great as it is, plastic is also destructive, devastating and deplorable.
Single use plastic is the worst of all. Plastic creates toxic pollution at every stage of its existence: manufacture, use, and disposal. Consumption of disposable plastics—bags, bottles, straws and so forth—has spiraled out of control. Approximately 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. That’s more than 1,200 bags per U.S. resident, per year. These items are used for seconds, hours or days, but their remains last forever.
Plastic is on my mind every day. Right now as I write, Skye is walking around the house commenting on what he is doing that involves plastic: “I’m putting the leftovers in plastic to go into the plastic fridge then I will wash the dishes with this sponge made of plastic materials. Now I am going to turn on my plastic computer so I can download pictures from my plastic camera of our day surfing on plastic composed surfboards.” Thanks, Skye, your making me feel really good right now! That is our reality.
We can all take action! I don’t like to rant for too long without offering suggestions for solutions. Here’s my plan:
My mission from here on out is to work to drastically reduce my use of single use plastic: I will try and practice the 4 R’s: REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE & RECYCLE. (Click on the link to take the pledge!) No longer will I allow a straw in my drink when out at a restaurant…“no straw please”…wow, that wasn’t so hard. I will always remember my reusable bags at the grocery store and if I forget them in my car (where I will make sure they stay), I will stop and turn around to retrieve them instead of just saying, “next time.” Or if I am only grabbing a few items, I will use my strong arms and my empty pockets to carry those items out. And I will never separately bag my various produce items (what the hell is the point of that anyway?). If I forget my glass jar when out, I will no longer use a lid on my to-go tea, coffee or soup. I will always carry silverware in my car instead of relying on plastic utensils while on the road. (That one hasn’t been too hard since we basically live out of our vehicles!) I will use washable rags to wash the dishes with instead of plastic based sponges. And I will continue to get creative with those random plastics containers…hmmm…a plastic container filing rack?! These are simple things, we can do so much.
I will not rely on recycling as recycling of plastic is costly and does not stem the production of virgin plastic product, and I will instead get involved! Check out your local Surfrider chapter, or make it your mission every day you are out in nature to pick up a few pieces. As 15-year old Cobi Emery, the founder of Pickup3.org, would say, just pick up three pieces.
Let’s Rise Above Plastic Together in Whatever Ways We Can!