Plogging or Plolking?

I think I first became aware of this new ‘sport’ earlier this year. What a brilliant idea to combine jogging with tidying up our environment. In Sweden, plogging (the Swedish “plocka”, to pick up, and jogging) became a more organised activity a couple of years ago and more recently, with people’s greater awareness of the plastics problem around the world, so too has the movement spread to other countries.

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‘Sunglasses’ collected during a one hour walk!

I already pick up plastics as I walk on the beach every day, albeit with more of a stoop than any ‘gym-like’ movement. I’m no longer a jogger and despite having enthusiastically decided I was going to get fit enough for a Park Run a few months ago, my few days of short runs resulted in my physio telling me running might not be what my body needed nowadays. But walking with a few squats and lunges would surely be okay.

 

plastic blog

Plastic bag, nylon rope and smaller ‘bits’ of plastic caught in the weed.

So a few weeks ago I started my new regime. On an empty windswept beach my dog sniffed around in the flotsam and jetsam while I slowed down our regular walking speed to fit in some strengthening exercises. Rather than being random, I decided to attribute different exercises to different pieces of plastic. A piece of nylon rope or string would be three squats, small fragments of plastic would be alternating lunges and other items such as sunglasses could be a slow stoop-like stretch of the hamstrings or a squat if the item was heavier, such as a lobster pot.

I’m not sure if this trend will take off in Western Australia. I have had a few bemused glances from other beach goers, few and far between in winter, and  becoming more numerous now the temperature is warming up for summer. Perhaps if I could get some fellow dog-walkers to participate my antics might not seem quite so bizarre? After all, I’m not exactly plogging, it’s more a case of plolking – ‘plocka’ to pick up, and walking.

 

 

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Old and New

Singapore is a juxtaposition of old and new, concrete and gardens, hot humidity and freezing aircon…

Plastic Plastic Plastic

I was recently in Bali, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Just before we were due go on my trip I read an article about how 20,000 people had come together across the island to clean it up, #oneislandonevoice, on 24th February 2018. It was a fantastic initiative, but as I went past one of the enormous mountains of landfill a month later, I wondered where all the ‘rubbish’ that had been collected that day ended up. With so much of the plastic having no commercial value I had fears that landfill was the only option. And then it becomes inevitable that plastics end up in our waterways and oceans.

Plastics have been in the news a lot lately. Every day on social media sites there are images of dead seabirds or other sea mammals with their digestive tracts full of plastic leaving them to a slow and painful death. We see photographs of massive plastic islands in all our main oceans, some of these are estimated to be the size of large countries. And then we have the microplastics, less visible, plastics less that 5mm in length, which have even been found in the more remote regions of our oceans.

The first fully synthetic plastic, Bakelite, was invented in the early 1900s. Mass production of plastics made from crude oil, began in the 1940s and 1950s. Only a hundred years later in 2050, we could have more plastic in the ocean than fish. Back in Bali, there was plastic bags, cups, straws and bottles scattered along the tide line as I walked along the beach close to our accommodation, while snorkeling, plastic bags danced in the water jellyfish-like, plastic rubbish was caught in foliage by the side of the roads and plastic floated in the waterways.

Bali is just an example of what is happening in so many places around the world. It is perhaps more shocking in such a beautiful place. But will an initiative to set up by volunteers be enough to begin the education of the Balinese, or will it take a government initiative? Where I live in Western Australia, our state government is about to introduce a ban on lightweight plastic bags on July 1st 2018. While shopping bags make up only a small proportion of plastic waste they can have a devastating impact on marine life and birds. Let’s hope this new law will be the first of many. There is already talk of a ban on plastic straws.

As I walk on the beach with my dog each day I know that our use of plastics and how we dispose of them has to change and that change can’t come soon enough. The amount of plastic I pick up depends on weather and tides, however there is some plastic there every single day.

 

July 1st is also the beginning of Plastic Free July, a movement started in 2011 by the Earth Carers in Perth, Australia.  Plastic Free July is now an independent not-for-profit Foundation. It aims to raise awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and challenges people to do something about it. ​Millions of people from 159 countries world-wide take the challenge and raise awareness and try to make a difference.

 

http://www.plasticfreejuly.org/

The Largest Living Structure on Earth

The Great Barrier Reef, Far North Queensland

Just below the surface lies a small part of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

I took this photo in November last year just before jumping off the tourist boat to go snorkelling. An hour later I was in shock. In the twenty or so years since I’d last dived here how could this have happened?

The Great Barrier Reef, in far North Queensland, is the largest living structure on Earth, and it’s visible from space. Most of us know of its outstanding beauty and biodiversity and many of us now know of the coral bleaching that has been so devastating over the past years.

Sir David Attenborough says, “It is one of the greatest, and most splendid natural treasures that the world possesses.”

So why are we doing nothing to protect it?

Why are we so complacent about climate change that we have ignored the science that could have prevented coral bleaching and the increase in extreme weather events?

Why does our government not only approve the biggest coal mine in Australia’s history to a foreign company, Adani, when pollution is killing our reef and fossil fuels are quickly becoming a thing of the past, but also offers Adani a billion dollars in incentives?

Do those of us who are educated and living in the developed world really believe that by ignoring climate change it will no longer be a problem?

One day our children will say, “What on earth were they thinking?”

Oh yes. And Happy Earth Day 2017 …

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/12/great-barrier-reef-dead-coral-bleaching-recover

https://www.barrierreef.org/the-reef/the-threats

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/i-saw-the-great-barrier-reef-die-last-weekend-and-i-wept-20170308-guu0r0.html

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/earth-2017/

Which Way?

As 2016 draws to a close I reflect on the past year and wonder what the future holds for us. What path are we on, have we chosen the right path, and if we go the wrong way will we be able to navigate through or turn back to a better course?

Sometimes it isn’t obvious which is the right path, but normally we do know when we have gone off course and are going the wrong way. I fear that at the moment the world is certainly following a path to a very uncertain future.

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The Yorkshire Dales

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/path-2016/