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/

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Beloved Birds

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Red-tailed, black cockatoos of Western Australia, with their loud distinctive calls, are classified as a threatened species, mainly due to habitat loss. I took this photo when a small flock temporarily settled, with great noise and attitude, in the gum tree in front of our house, before they moved on to feed in another tree close by. I always find their noisy movement and chatter uplifting as they charge the air with their energy and antics. They can live to fifty years of age and there is concern that a lot of the birds we are now seeing are these older birds and not juveniles, as successfully breeding is affected dramatically by vegetation clearing and lack of tree hollows for nesting. I hope that Perth will stop expanding in the destructive urban sprawl that often forces the clear-felling of bushland, and that we will continue to be visited by these beloved birds for many years to come.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/beloved/

Make a Difference

For many decades I have thought of myself as an environmentalist. I’ve participated in protests against environmental destruction, I am a member of various groups and organisations that advocate protection of our environment and I engage in a lot of ‘armchair activism’.  Last year I was humbled when I went to see a talk given by an amazing, seemingly indefatigable woman in her 80s, one of my favourite environmentalists, Dr Jane Goodall.

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Jane Goodall being interviewed, Perth 2017

I first came across her name when studying psychology in the late 70s,  and then again while doing my Masters some years later when I undertook a study of language in apes. I’d also lived for many years in Tanzania, her adopted country where she has spent many years of her life studying the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, although now she is travelling for almost 300 days a year in her advocacy work. She started her travels in a quest to save chimpanzees from extinction and this developed into a much broader conservation platform. As I listened that evening, it was not only the fact that she had given her whole life to conservation, often in the face of grim opposition, but it was her hope for the future that inspired.

So when I thought about my growth as a person over the last few years and how I hope I will grow in the future, it is my activism that I am most passionate about. Whether it be  standing in the freezing cold of a North Yorkshire winter to stop fracking vehicles passing, speaking out against multinationals and their greed, stopping a pointless road going through important wetlands in Western Australia, or protesting about the abuse of human rights in Australia’s refugee policy, I know I will not sit quietly this year.

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Protesting a road to nowhere – Roe 8 in Beeliar Wetlands, 2017

As Jane Goodall says, ‘It’s amazing what happens when people see the difference they can make.’

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/growth-2/