We are drowning in plastic

Electric Picnic Festival, Stradbally, Ireland
Electric Picnic Festival, Stradbally, Ireland

When I was growing up our milk was delivered in bottles, and groceries and fruit were packed in brown paper bags.  Drinks like coke also came in bottles. We drank water in glasses that came from the tap, our biscuits were stored in tins and food was stored in Pyrex containers in the fridge. Baths and showers were made of enamelled steel; in many homes, the toilet seat was wood. Then Tupperware arrived with its fancy nestable storage containers and plastic lids, our baths were replaced with plastic ones and one day I came home to a new kitchen with its orange Formica bench tops and plastic-lined drawers.  Our love of plastic had begun.

Flash forward to this afternoon when I participated in a beach clean at Sanur beach in Bali. I only cleaned a strip of beach not even 50 meters, on a bit that had supposedly already been cleaned in the morning. The Australian chick who ran the cafe next door to the area I was cleaning (and who also gave me a bag to put the rubbish in) said the locals just swept the area into piles and then just buried the trash on the beach, ultimately resulting in the trash being sent back out to the sea with the next high tide.

I was stunned at what I picked up, most of it PLASTIC!! My haul weighed easily 7 kg. Empty syringes broken flip-flops, plastic bags, about 40 single-use plastic cups and 63 fucken straws! There were also numerous pieces of polystyrene. I once met a guy in the Philippines who had traded free camping for beach cleaning and he said polystyrene was the pits, as once it gets out to the sea it breaks up to a million pieces. Something I had no idea about.  Fishing twine and plastic rings are the worst for it so easy to see the damage it is doing to our marine life.

While participating in the Sanur beach clean, from what I’ve seen on the internet made me very aware of my own plastic consumption not only when travelling but also at home.  When I took a step back and looked at all the packaging that comes with groceries and well pretty much anything you purchase, there is so much plastic!  I am already making a big effort to be more eco-conscious by using shampoo bars and bar soap, instead of liquid soaps stored in plastic, avoiding single-use water bottles and saying “No” to straws.  I’ve just purchased a bamboo straw.

I made a promise to myself a while back that every day when travelling I would pick up three pieces of plastic from the beach, it’s easy to do as I think that every little helps Mother Earth.  For if not now, then when? If not us, then who?