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Tuesday, 12 June, 2018

One Week After

 

Photo: Johannes-Maria Schlorke/Ozeaneum Stralsund

Last Tuesday was World Environment Day. Since 1974, it has grown to become the UN's most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Actually every day should be Environment Day, because we should always care about our environment. If humans don’t stop pretending that they are more important than the environment, it shows how little we know about ourselves and about our environment. It shows that we have not understood how life works. If we destroy the environment, we destroy ourselves.

Environment is everything around us, everything that makes up our surroundings and affects all life on earth, from the air we breathe, the water that covers most of the earth's surface, the plants and animals and other humans around us to much much more.

So where to begin? What can you do? Maybe first take a closer look. Like the BBC documentary Blue Planet II does. The final episode in the series takes an uncompromising look at the impact of human activity on marine life. Narrated and presented by Sir David Attenborough, the episode calls on viewers to help reduce plastic waste.

“… what we do now is throw thousands of tons – a day – into the sea, where it doesn’t rot. Worse than that, it breaks up into little fragments. Birds will travel round the world collecting squid or fish, come back after three weeks to feed their nestlings – and we filmed them – out of the beak of the mother comes, not food, bits of broken plastic.” (Quote from Etan Smallman's article at http://www.scmp.com)

Garbage on the Beach at Addu Atoll in Maldives

Plastic. It helps make our daily lives easier. It’s cheap, convenient, and versatile. Plastic surrounds us. Take out all the stuff in your house that is at least partially made of plastic and there would not be so much left. Almost everything we use is made up of it. Your t-shirt tag, your computer keyboard, the rain jacket hanging on the door hook, the car outside in front of your house, the cottage cheese pack on your breakfast table, the picture frame on the shelf, your hair tie, your toothbrush … the list is unending. Plastic is everywhere. The problem is, it also is there or ends up where it does not belong. And it stays. It is very slow to degrade.

Can you imagine how much plastic ends up in our oceans each year? An estimated 8-10 million tonnes of plastic – everything from plastic bottles and bags to microbeads. "If current production and waste management trends continue, by 2050, there will be 12 billion tonnes of plastic in natural environments. That’s the weight of 100 million blue whales – 5,000 times the actual blue whale population left on Earth." (quote from Greenpeace.org)

Terrapin Trapped in Plastic

Whales were found with large amounts of garbage in their stomachs, ranging from plastic bags, to small towels, surgical gloves, plastic pieces, duct tape, even golf balls. Plastic garbage cannot be digested and is often not excreted, so it just accumulates in the whale and will, sooner or later, clog their intestines resulting in a senseless and preventable death.

It has been estimated that over one million birds and 100,000 marine animals, including mammals and turtles, die each year from plastic debris.

Sea Birds off the Coast of Mauritania

Plastic is non-biodegradable, and it takes hundreds of years to degrade.
But it will never be fully off the Earth. It’s forever there.

But there is something you can do about that plastic madness.
You can make a difference:

* By limiting the use, or better yet, not using at all, plastic products like shopping bags, party balloons, straws and plastic bottles. "IF YOU CAN’T REUSE IT, REFUSE IT"

* Be conscious about what you are consuming and how it is affecting not only your life and your surroundings, but the whole planet.

* Recycle all your plastics. Keep it away from the landfill and away from the ocean.

Microbeads* Adopt the habit of picking up plastic litter, wherever you see it, but particularly when near drains, waterways and the sea.

* And last but not least: Send us your pictures and tell us about your initiatives - even the smallest ones: mail@corneliafunke.com

 

Beach Clean-up Activity in Penghu, Taiwan

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Tannice on 30 June, 2018

Thank you for these wake-up calls. Great site.