Wandering: Vacation Thoughts on the Beach, Trash, and Our Environment
I recently took a vacation to Gulfstream, Florida; an island off of Delray Beach. We had a wonderful time, so relaxing. Part of my vacation was twice daily walks on the beach in front of our lodging. The sand was smooth, soft, and not filled with seaweed! And the seaweed wasn’t the stringing sort that I detest.
On these walks, I picked up a few “treasures.” They range from a Bott’s Dot, to what I presume is a seaweed pod, to a variety of whole bottles.
My family has a history of picking up shard (AKA sea glass). My parents picked up 3 gallons (conservatively) on their honeymoon in Bermuda and brought it home via the airplane (ccouldn’tdo that now!). We have been lugging it all around the country on our multiple moves. 50 years later we still have way too much!
I love all the whole bottles I picked up, except the biggest one. I really picked it up to throw it away. That just hasn’t happened yet. Maybe someday I will get around to it.
In any case, I have five different and interesting whole bottles to add to a collection of old bottles. The part that makes me think is….how many bottles are in the ocean for me to have been able to so readily up 5 five whole bottles with caps. It makes me very sad to have such clear evidence of what we are doing to our environment and surroundings. The ocean should not be a waste bin, but it appears that it is.
A few facts about marine pollution from UNESCO:
- There are now close to 500 dead zones covering more than 245,000 km² globally, equivalent to the surface of the United Kingdom.
- The United Nations Environment Programme estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic.
- The North Pacific Gyre, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, occupies a relatively stationary area that is twice the size of Texas. Waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean, including coastal waters off North America and Japan, are drawn together.
- Seven of the EU Member States plus Norway and Switzerland recover more than 80% of their used plastics. These countries adopt an integrated waste and resource management strategy to address each waste stream with the best options. However, waste and disposal remain an issue in most of the world.
Additionally, the Great Pacific garbage patch is nothing to be proud of! Worse yet, it is only one of several garbage patches in our oceans. Throwing that one thing into the wind doesn’t seem like anything, until you realize that one thing x 7+ billion is too much for any ecosystem.
How to clean up the garbage patches? Boyan Slat has a plan! Wouldn’t it be better to not need a plan? To have never done this to our environment?