We live in a convenience culture, where we are exposed to some form of plastic material every single day.
We can recycle our plastic as much as possible, but the reality is, the majority of it will, at some point, end in the Pacific Ocean, in what is known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
- There is a huge plastic waste dump site in the Pacific Ocean that is twice the size of the continental United States *source ecology.com
- According to the UN Environment Programme, plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals. Syringes, cigarette lighters and toothbrushes have been found inside the stomachs of dead seabirds, which mistake them for food. *source independent.co.uk
- ”Every little piece of plastic manufactured in the past 50 years that made it into the ocean is still out there somewhere,” said Tony Andrady, a chemist with the US-based Research Triangle Institute. *source independent.co.uk
- Plastic is believed to constitute 90 per cent of all rubbish floating in the oceans. *source independent.co.uk
- Hundreds of millions of tiny plastic pellets, or nurdles – the raw materials for the plastic industry – are lost or spilled every year, working their way into the sea. These pollutants act as chemical sponges attracting man-made chemicals such as hydrocarbons and the pesticide DDT. They then enter the food chain. “What goes into the ocean goes into these animals and onto your dinner plate. It’s that simple,” said Dr Eriksen. *source independent.co.uk
- In a new report, Greenpeace said at least 267 species — including seabirds, turtles, seals, sea lions, whales and fish — are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris. *source msnbc.msn.com
- Hawaii to be Hit by Great Pacific Garbage Patch *source magtrends.com
- The tsunami that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake caused a staggering loss of life, and led to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown. It also jettisoned millions of tons of debris into the Pacific. It’s very difficult to know just how much debris was dragged out, but estimates put it at anywhere from 5 to 20 million tons. *source smartplanet.com
What can we do? We all know we should recycle our own plastic responsibly, we can go one step further in collecting irresponsibly discarded plastic trash and place in the appropriate recycle bin. We can change our plastic toothbrush to a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush, and we can take our own reusable grocery bags to the supermarket.
But really, the best we can do, is refuse plastic from any source; plastic food packaging, plastic shopping bags, disposable plastic lighters, plastic water or soda drink bottles, plastic containers, and new plastic toys. Difficult? For sure! We are surrounded with plastic in every direction. But if we all try to minimise our plastic use, the least we can do is reduce the risk of a much larger mass of plastic ocean soup which horrendously damages our fragile ecosystems. Recycle? Yes. Refuse.. better.
Thank you to Megan Bayliss for addressing this matter in her fantastic Junk Wave recycled craft workshop today.
It is not often we get to see ‘behind the scenes’ of an artist using recycled materials.
Here is a wonderful video c/o Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang. The couple make sculptures, prints, jewelry and installations with the plastic they find washed up, raising a deeper concern with the problem of plastic pollution in our seas.
One Plastic Beach from High Beam Media on Vimeo.
They can be found on BeachPlastic