Like the ocean water for the fishes that live in it, or the air of the sky, for the birds that fly in it, plastic can be found everywhere. So much so, and so present, that we hardly notice it anymore.
In the form of bottles, plastic bags, food and snack packaging, and many other items, can be seen by the side of our roads, trails, water reservoirs, rivers and ocean. Wherever it is, you can be certain that it will end up in our oceans.
Dramatically, it has found its way into the food chain. It can be found in fish, bird, marine mammal, farm, and in the stomachs of other animals, many times putting at risk their survival.
In the ocean, fishes, marine mammals and marine birds, get entangled and trapped, in the remains of plastic bags, meshes, and nets, left by the fishing industry boats. On shore, seagulls get trapped in meshes of plastic fishing line left behind by fishermen. I have personally seen this happen on my walks along coastal trails.
It is estimated that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans.
I certainly am able to observe a substantial increase over the years. When I snorkeled 40 years ago, in the beaches of the Algarve, didn’t use to see this much plastic pollution.
On www.youtube.com documentaries, much evidence of this can be viewed. Just search for video, using keywords such as, “plastic”, “plastic pollution” and other combinations of keywords that include “plastic”.
As this problem is on the rise, making evident its harmful consequences, one can observe it’s increasingly, widespread use. Plumbing, landscape gardening, agriculture, furniture, cars and other transportation means, clothing, fishing, food packaging, technological devices, home utensils, toys, etc.
One trend, lately, in supermarkets, is packaging individual vegetables and fruits in plastic.
This is a time bomb ready to explode. The toxicity of plastic into the environment, and biological systems, is a proved fact.
When plastic breaks down into smaller pieces- micro plastics, like a sponge it absorbs toxins from the ocean water, and it becomes virtually impossible to remove it from the ground, rivers, water reservoirs, lakes, ocean, agricultural soil, etc. This will happen by the action of erosion, sun radiation, etc.
What are we waiting for? What do we need to wake up?
I live in a very beautiful place, the Algarve. On the weekends, I go hiking on some trails near the ocean or snorkel on the beach. Wherever I go I see the disrupting presence of plastic. There is an abundant concentration of plastic in the water of our beaches, which for the most part remains out of our sight and awareness, before it is washed-up onto the beaches, by the action of waves or tides. Storms always deposit large amounts of plastic on the shore.
On public holidays, because there is no trash removal, plastic trash accumulates and exceeds the capacity of containers. If there is strong wind, it will most likely, be blown into the ocean. I have seen this happen quite often.
It is the purpose of this article to increase public awareness, and create some state of mind, in which solutions may be formulated.
First of all the problem and its consequences need to be acutely recognized and intelligently discussed, aiming at change.
How can we shift paradigm?
Here presented are some points I consider to be essential:
1 – Education: we need to be adequately informed and educated to the fact that we depend upon nature, in the form of water, air, food. The quality of these factors will determine the quality of our lives. Plastic pollution puts all these at risk. Learn about the effects of plastic on health.
Make yourself aware to the presence of plastic around you, in your home, on the roads, streets, fields, ocean, rivers, beaches, etc. It can be an ice cream package, a water bottle, a refrigerator (which I have seen floating in the water reservoir in Silves, Algarve) a broken surf board (seen on a beach in Algarve).
What can I do to help mitigate this problem?
How can I contribute to, or promote alternatives?
How can I reduce the impact of my behavior onto the quality of the environment?
2 – Ask for new solutions in packaging, etc. When you go shopping, try to exercise ways that are less likely to generate plastic waste.
Do your best to avoid or ban single use plastics.
3 – If you go on the beach, or walk along trails, take your time to pick up one or more items of plastic and dispose of them safely, so that they can be recycled. It’s a small contribution that can make a difference.
Many local public government agencies don’t appear to be aware of plastic pollution.
I have seen these absurdities on public properties:
1 – I have seen fence plant edges being replaced with plastic disguises of plants with leaves (fence around Fatacil grounds, Lagoa).
2 – Plastic based carpets on the ground of public picnic areas. (Near barragem do Funcho, S. B. de Messines.
Some places are worse than others. Recently, I traveled to Norway and Sweden. In these countries, plastic pollution could hardly be seen by the side of the road.
Plastic is a wonderful, flexible material. However, if misused can have a negative impact into the environment, and in consequence, into the vast web of life on this planet.
The real impact of the decisions we are making today is yet to be manifest in our experience, in the future.
Don’t let it be too late! Begin doing things differently now! Help this planet, help yourself!
What qualifies me to write about this topic? I am not a specialist of any kind. I am just a person who loves nature, the oceans, animals, and the beauty of this great creation. I just want to let it be, and to leave it undisturbed by disharmonious actions.
Web designer and nature lover
Fernando is a nature lover, who tries to raise as less impact as possible into the environment, through a healthy and conscious life style.