Earth Day 2018 | Drowning in Plastic

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. This year is focused on ending plastic pollution.

Minuscule plastic beads on a north Cornish beach

These tiny beads of plastic were found on a Cornish beach, so tiny if it wasn’t for the brightly coloured pieces they would have gone unnoticed. Easily swallowed by fish and other sea creatures. In other parts of the world the problem is enormous with whole rivers choked with discarded plastic. It is not only their problem to solve, but ours too as we only have the one planet.

Debris washed up on a Canadian beach in B.C

We cannot change the world in a day, but together, each of us can change it for the better. This year pledge to reduce your use of plastic.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | Prolific

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Heyjude

I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

44 thoughts on “Earth Day 2018 | Drowning in Plastic”

  1. The BBC One Show has had a long-running feature on this problem, and recently highlighted how people drinking from plastic mineral water bottles take in untold amounts of microscopic plastic slivers, which the body is unable to process properly.
    I was under the impression that all this stuff went into landfill, or was recycled.
    Perhaps we need more information about why so much of it ends up in the sea?
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. We recycle our plastic items, or at least we think we do! I saw a news item from Indonesia yesterday which was frightening, all the rubbish, including plastic waste, just floating in the rivers and around people’s homes! I recall loads of plastic bags caught on fences in the townships of South Africa and goodness knows what other underdeveloped countries do with theirs. I suspect not all goes into landfill. Education is prime in tackling this as well as manufacturers coming up with ways of creating plastic that is biodegradable. And when you look at how many plastic toys kids have these days…

  2. Plastics are everywhere and in virtually everything. It’s one of those very guilty things we are all participating in. I generate my fair share of plastic garbage. It’s virtually unavoidable. I feel virtuous about recycling, and yet I know so much of it ends up in landfill as ‘spoiled’ by careless garbage disposal by others.

    I could go on a long tirade. Garbage is one of my hot buttons. The picture of the small plastic beads on the shoreline really bothers me. What’s happening to the world’s seas and waterways is deeply disturbing.

    1. It’s scary how much plastic we throw away. I try to avoid anything in plastic, but it is impossible not to buy items. We can only do small things, but together every little helps. I hope.

  3. This is a complete nightmare, but worst of all the fact that it has taken so long for any action to be taken, which of course means that the scale of the problem is enormous….

    1. True. So much of this could have been avoided if action had taken place earlier. I look at all the garish plastic toys kids have today (and far more than they need) and wish parents would buy fewer toys.

  4. I am deeply sceptical that we will be able to solve this problem at all. Man has been too god at ruining this world ever since he first hopped down from the trees in ancient Africa.

    1. Seems to be the major item on the news these days Cathy. Cornwall is banning the use of plastic straws and also encouraging re-usable bottles / coffee mugs. Drinking water fountains would be a good thing to introduce too.

  5. I’m old enough to remember why we switched to plastic bags. Environmentalists banged the drum for conservation of our forests. Paper bags were the great environmental catastrophe.

    The reality was that paper products are renewable and biodegradable. Timber used to make paper bags is planted and harvested like any sustainable crop.

    I think it’s ironic that environmentalists, in a blind attempt to save the trees, created this plastic disaster.

    1. And have we saved the trees? Thank goodness people have started to use their own shopping bags again. I’m all for paper bags (or no bags).

      1. In fact, global satellite imaging has found 378 million additional hectares of forest around the globe. This is larger than the Amazon forest (350 million hectares). In the United States, over the past 100 years, more trees have been planted than harvested so that 8% of the world’s forested land is in the U.S.

  6. I’ve never understood why people buy water in plastic bottles when we all have water on tap and can carry a reusable water bottle. It’s so expensive and wasteful. Our local supermarket recently set up a collection for recyclable soft plastics like packets and we save all ours to go in. It’s amazing how quickly it builds up too. Everything comes in a plastic bag these days.

    1. I’m afraid we are guilty of water in bottles as the OH prefers sparkling water, but we are trying to withdraw and we do recycle the bottles.

  7. It is truly a terrifying problem. I cosciously try to monitor and reduce my plastic use, and although I think I do quite well, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the volume of plastic to avoid. My local greengrocer has taken to pre-packaging a lot of stuff in little styrofoam trays with miles of cling film. They listen politely to my suggestion they desist and carry on anyway. I could take my business elsewhere, but that involves much longer car trips and since I don’t drive an EV, I pollute that way. And the reason I buy so much fruit and veg is to reduce our meat consumption. Aaggh!! Excellent news about the drinking straws though; we can’t even formulate a coherent policy on single-use bags.

    1. I hate prepacked fruit and veg and always try to avoid buying it that way. Which is why growing your own is so nice, if the S&S would allow me to! We have cut out meat this year and although not strict by any means (we still enjoy the odd roast chicken dinner), we are trying to reduce consuming animal products, I am too fond of cheese though and vegetarian cheese does not do it for me, though I am fine with soya / rice / almond milk.

      1. 😀 I will have to try harder on the fruit and veg front. Perhaps the farmer’s market; although that will require much more organisation on my part as the nearest one is only on at the weekend. And I can’t blame weather for my minimal home-grown produce; this last year I’ve managed only to produce figs, kale, citrus, herbs and chilies in decent quantities.
        I found meat fairly easy to do without (except fish, and duck — which is a rare but much-enjoyed treat), but like you I am far too fond of cheese to contemplate a vegan diet.

  8. I think we are almost past the point of no return. Just a week ago councils in this area are stopping saving recyclables as China is being more selective about taking our rubbish. So as of last week all our yellow top recycle bins go straight to the land fill sites. From June 1 supermarkets in Queensland are not using plastic bags (I always take my reusable bags when shopping) some of the other states and territories have been doing that for years. But there is so much plastic rubbish already out there I doubt it can ever be cleaned up. And then where do they put it??? A truly horrific scenario. We must all keep trying though, lots of small steps, buy a refillable stainless steel water bottle, take your own cup for coffee, compost scraps etc etc. you’ve touched a very raw nerve Jude

    1. I have to wonder where our plastics go to. It shouldn’t be too difficult for a country like Australia to set up its own recycling and processing plants surely? Being one of the richest countries in the world you’d think they could do this. It’s amazing what plastic can be turned into.

        1. Such a shame. And so wrong in many ways to expect another country to deal with our own rubbish. It annoys me to see rubbish shipped elsewhere for other people to pick over and deal with. we still ship stuff to India, China and south-east Asia. And still some people do not recycle anything!!

        2. China is getting fussy about the quality of rubbish it takes. It must be “clean”, non contaminated, before they will take it. So, for example, if a tin is not rinsed or a pizza box has crumbs it is rejected

        3. We have to do that here or it won’t be picked up. In fact takeaway food cartons are not collected. But I don’t buy takeaway food except for fish ‘n’ chips and Cornish pasties.

        4. Toughening up here now. But how can they tell what you put in the bin at collection point… it is up to individuals to do the right thing

  9. That last comment seems very sensible, Jude. Many of us are aware and horrified by the problems but it still feels like an unstoppable tide. What Pauline said about China refusing their rubbish… well, why on earth should they take someone else’s rubbish when they can generate more than enough of their own? I expect it comes down to money. We try to beachcomb plastics and rubbish whenever we can.

  10. On a mission to reduce our plastic. Clingfilm and packaging are the ones I’m working on at moment, already found alternative ear buds and plastic bags have been a no go in house for years. But boy the shops and manufacturers don’t make it easy.

    1. You’re right. Some things just don’t come in an alternative packaging. I rarely use cling film these days, I reuse ice-cream tubs a lot for storing leftovers, freezing double amounts of food and even growing seeds in! And I try to avoid black plastic as much as possible because we can’t recycle that. Manufacturers need to be more responsible: biodegradable plastic, glass and cardboard. We might need to pay more, but if that’s what it takes then so be.

  11. Well said Jude! I do try, I use soap not shower gel. I don’t like squash and sweet fizzy stuff and try to remember my water bottle when i go out. As you say, every little helps 🙂

  12. Snorkeling in Vietnam last year was bittersweet for me because of the plastic pollution off Nha Trang. I was literally grabbing handfuls as I swam. It’s really telling that a photograph of a seahorse holding onto a discarded cotton bud – while also a finalist in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition – has become “the poster child for today’s marine trash crisis.” See https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/09/seahorse-ocean-pollution/.

    Those plastic pellets have also recently washed up on beaches around Fish Hoek so I suspect it’s a worldwide problem.

    We’ve been recycling our household waste for some time now and 90% of mine is packaging. That’s scary.

    1. Soooo much packaging. We really need to return to a more sustainable way of life eating what grows in season. It would be beneficial for our health too.

      1. You are absolutely right. We don’t need exotic fruit all year round. When we buy our weekly groceries we try to avoid plastic as much as possible, but when we unpack, we always end up with an enormous pile of plastic. Wicked, isn’t it? It’s frightening to see how plastic ends up in nature, even each time the washing machine has done its work. Who knew that semi-synthetics were such a polluter some years ago??

      2. Absolutely. Beauty products are the worst – normally boxes triple the size of the actual product. Barbara Kingsolver wrote a great book called “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” which changed my way of thinking completely.

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