If you look about yourself I bet you will quickly find plastic all around you. When I look around myself my pen, cellphone, computer keyboard, the outlet, the cords connecting my computer to the wall and even my trousers are made (at least partially) of plastic. It is something we tend to turn a blind eye to; with so many other things to think about who has time to fight a war on plastic too? Plus, it is embedded in so many aspects of our lives (one day survey how much plastic you encounter, you will be shocked!) that it seems impossible to even attempt to challenge the plastic mania. Yet here is the thing, we must challenge it.
Plastic has a very real impact on the environment, and one place where that can be easily seen is the marine world. Plastic pollution affects all water systems in the world from fresh water to seas and oceans. Recently this problem was highlighted when a sperm whale was found on the Mediterranean coast having died due to ingesting over 8.1 kg of plastic (source: EIA International). This is not ok.
This past weekend I attended a beach clean, an activity which was part of “Trash or Treasure” week put on by ONCA in Brighton. We spent an hour picking up plastic and other garbage along a 100 meter section of Brighton’s beach and it was really surprising what we found. A piece here and a piece there really added up. I walk the beach every week, yet I never before noticed all of the plastic. It is only when I am intentionally looking for it that I see it, otherwise it just seems to disappear. This seems to be how we see trash and garbage in general, we just pretend it does not exist, and yet there it is.
Plastic that makes its way to the water ways never disappears. It is eaten by fish, who are eaten by other fish, and then those fish are eaten by other animals, including humans. Although we can’t (or at least it is very difficult to) remove the plastic from the water ways once its there, what we can do is avoid putting the plastic there in the first place. That doesn’t necessarily mean swearing off all plastic (I am the last person who wants to run away to a cabin in the woods) but it does mean reducing and reusing the plastics we use.
Speaking of reuse, I volunteered with ONCA (yep the same organization that I did the beach clean up with) earlier last week to help facilitate a “plastic crafts” workshop where we made shrimps out of straws! Below I have included a YouTube video so you can learn this amazing craft too!
It was amazing, think origami with plastic straws, and a fun way to impress your friends at a party or pick-up that cute guy/girl at the bar after you have finished your drink (assuming you used a straw). The artist who lead the workshop is Nick Sayers, besides making shrimp out of old straws, he pushes the re-purposing envelope by creating lamps out of old pop bottles and zip-ties. His work has definitely inspired me to keep thinking creatively when it comes re-purposing “waste”.
What have you re-purposed today?