Cleanup Day came and went – but the ghost nets are still there

did you know Sunday March 2 was Cleanup Australia Day? Notice any difference? I’m sure a lot was done, but it’s a lot like Earth Hour – hugely symbolic, but totally ineffective in global or even Australian terms, when we have oceans full of trash.

But some artists are drawing attention to the things we don’t even see. The crab and the fish in this picture are made from ghost nets – the nets that are left behind by fishermen, that catch and kill wildlife that was never meant to be caught and eaten.

Ghost nets

Jonah wouldn’t have had to put up with this when the whale swallowed him….

This report appeared in the Guardian on March 9 this year, about another whale:

“A dead sperm whale that washed up on Spain‘s south coast had swallowed 17kg of plastic waste dumped into the sea by farmers tending greenhouses that produce tomatoes and other vegetables for British supermarkets.

Scientists were amazed to find the 4.5 tonne whale had swallowed 59 different bits of plastic – most of it thick transparent sheeting used to build greenhouses in southern Almeria and Granada. A clothes hanger, an ice-cream tub and bits of mattress were also found.

The plastic had eventually blocked the animal’s stomach and killed it, according to researchers from the Doñana national park research centre in Andalusia.

Researchers at first found it hard to believe that the 10-metre animal had swallowed the vast amount of plastic they found protruding through a tear in its stomach.

In all the whale’s stomach contained two dozen pieces of transparent plastic, some plastic bags, nine metres of rope, two stretches of hosepipe, two small flower pots and a plastic spray canister.

All were typical of the closely packed Almeria greenhouses that cover about 40,000 hectares – and are clearly visible in satellite photographs taken from space.

Desert-like Almeria has transformed itself into Europe‘s winter market garden thanks to the plastic greenhouses where plants are grown in beds of perlite stones and drip-fed chemical fertilisers. Local farmers report that Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s are all valued customers.

The greenhouses produce 2.4 tonnes of plastic waste per hectare each year – or more than 45,000 tonnes altogether.

Much is treated in special waste centres, but environmentalists complain that local riverbeds are often awash with plastic detritus and, with greenhouses built right up to the high-tide line, some also ends up in the sea.

“The problem of degraded plastics that are no longer recyclable still remains,” Renaud de Stephanis, lead researcher at Doñana, and his team reported in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.

Only about 1,000 sperm whales – the world’s biggest toothed whales – are thought to live in the Mediterranean. They live for up to 60 years and are often killed after getting caught in nets or being hit by ships.

Now another man-made danger has been detected. “These animals feed in waters near an area completely flooded by the greenhouse industry, making them vulnerable to its waste products if adequate treatment of this industry’s debris is not in place,” warned de Stephanis.”

One Million Women Can’t Be Wrong

1 million women

Dear 1 Million Women,

I’ve just joined your campaign, but I have two suggestions:

first, your slogan, which appeared when I signed up:

If 1 million women join, we’d change the world.

This should read: If 1 million women join, we WILL change the world.

No ‘we’d’ – that’s part of a second conditional sentence. You have started a first conditional sentence, so you need to finish the same way you started.

Second suggestion: make it broader than climate change. There are plenty of climate change deniers who wouldn’t join your campaign on principle. But if your campaign was simply about making this world habitable for future generations, we would do everything you are suggesting and more. And the deniers might actually agree that this was a cause worth fighting for. Long before we noticed climate change, we were all aware that this planet is horribly polluted, we are losing unique animal and plant species on a daily basis, and the ecological balance of this precious miracle that we call the Earth is being constantly put in jeopardy by greed, ignorance and apathy. Climate Change was just a useful tag to hang everything else onto, but if its science becomes discredited, convincingly or otherwise, we are in danger of losing the whole bundle of other reasons for action.

And I’m so pleased to have found a movement that tells me I’m not alone.

What Can We Do?

I haven’t been completely idle since I stopped collecting.  I visited one of the schools that backs onto the creek, and two of the students made their own plastic collection. They gave a talk at the school assembly, and I was invited along to tell my story.  All the children were very interested, so I hope they’ll all be taking an active part in keeping the creek banks clean.

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Jodie, the school assistant, got very enthusiastic!

I’m now noticing how many blogs, websites and active organisations there are out there, spreading the message about plastics. But we have to do more than just post messages online.  I’ll be posting examples of things we can all do to spread the message every day, in the smallest but most effective ways.  Surfrider is a little-known organisation in Australia, but it’s big in America.  However, we do have our own branch.

If you run your own business or work for a company that likes to raise its profile by supporting good causes, consider this suggestion from the Australian Surfriders:

CORPORATES

“Citizen Stewardship Day:  

Planning a staff social day? How about a day of awareness, fun and accomplishment while mixing with colleagues in the fresh coastal air? Surfrider can manage a beach clean day for you, including transport, catering and logistics for the day. 

Workplace Giving:  

Surfrider has ongoing deductible gift recipient status (DGR), which means your employees can support Surfrider by regularly donating a fixed amount deducted automatically from their salary. Some companies also match employee donations dollar for dollar. To find out more about workplace giving, see the ATO.

Sponsorships:  

Surfrider has major partners and supporting partners. Contact us to discuss the tiered offerings and how we could work together. Co-brand a Surfrider project, ramp up one of your own projects, or launch a new idea together.”

There are a number of other corporate suggestions on this website. I also discovered a scheme called One Per Cent, and a few Australian companies support this. By supporting these companies as consumers, we can all do our own little bit for the planet.

But is this enough?  Surely we can all do something to stop the sort of thoughtless behaviour that was photographed after a music festival in Reading, UK.

And if you’d like to get paid to protect our marine life, here’s a golden opportunity with Blackfish.

 

 

 

Sorting the Collection

I’ve been taking a holiday from plastic gathering. I still have a pile of plastic left from the month I spent filling a bag every day, after sorting out the stuff that I could put in my yellow recycling bin. This is what the final collection looked like:

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I then sorted it into hard and soft plastics. The hard plastics were immediately recyclable.

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The only place that will recycle soft plastic is Coles – but I think they’d prefer it to be clean. So this stuff probably has to go into landfill.

 

 

 

And this stuff (apart from the dustpan, which I found on the beach) is neither hard nor soft plastic, but a mixture of materials that can’t be classified.  I will have to take them to a recycling depot to see what can be done with them.

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As for the EPF – it’s too filthy to take to Bill for recycling. More landfill.

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And the bottle tops? I will put them all in a hard plastic container – I’m told a milk bottle will do – so they can be recycled without damaging the machine that crushes hard plastic.  Apparently anything smaller than a credit card can get caught in the machinery, so this is why they tell us we can’t put bottle tops in our yellow recycling bins.  So I have an idea – why don’t I suggest to the Council that they install plastic bins in public places with openings just large enough for bottle tops? It might just encourage people to do the right thing.

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Oh, and as people love to exercise their dogs around here, I found plenty of plastic balls. They can all go in the yellow bin.

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Where’s the free speech in this country?

On Media Watch tonight my attention was drawn to this advertisement on YouTube, which Greenpeace attempted to put onto commercial television, having amassed $20,000 to buy the privilege.  Channels 7, 9, 10 and SBS had all declined to broadcast the ad, and Channel 9 stated that their viewers would find it ‘offensive’.

The advertisement begins in the style of a Coca-Cola ad, with a woman drinking a bottle of Coke on a beach as DJ Adrian Lux’s song Teenage Crime plays in the background. As the woman takes a sip of Coke, a bird falls out of the sky in front of her, followed by hundreds of other dead birds. The clip then shows images of dead sea birds with their stomachs full of pieces of plastic.

According to Greenpeace:

‘Coke has been accused of bullying politicians into blocking cash for containers. It’s a reasonable assumption their influence is behind Channel 9’s last minute choking’.

The ad aims to promote legislation for a new 10-cents-a-bottle recycling scheme, similar to the one already in place in South Australia.

Since May 5, Greenpeace’s “Stop Coca-Cola trashing Australia” video has received almost 1 million views. If you were wondering why you hadn’t heard about it, this could be the reason: Coca Cola has bought the top advertising slot for online searches, including such words as “Greenpeace”, “cash for containers” or “cash for cans”.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/greenpeace-cokes-recycling-war-spills-into-google-20130521-2jylr.html#ixzz2b69lLPXO