The Plastiki, a boat made from 12,000 plastic bottles (the same amount of bottles America consumes every 8.3 seconds), is currently sailing (or should that be ‘drifting’…) somewhere in the Pacific. Aboard is the founder of the Treehugger website, Graham Hill. Speaking on his website he makes some observations that ring true for a lot of people, even those who aren’t necessarily all that eco-minded…
I now understand viscerally how we got to this point. I can see how we’d not have been concerned about polluting our oceans. Why? Because they feel impossibly gigantic! It’s almost inconceivable to think that something so large and so deep could be affected by us humans. You can literally sail for days on end and not even see another boat and all this time it extends not only to the horizons but also hundreds or thousands of feet below you. Our oceans are the definition of massive.
So I don’t think we should beat ourselves up too much. It’s a terrible situation, certainly, but you can see how we got here, you can empathize with how we’ve played this. In short, we’ve just witnessed the jump of “Don’t *@## where you eat” from local to global.
Everyone has understood this saying on a small, local level for a long time. It just makes sense…where your living situation is compact, you don’t let the bad stuff contaminate the good. What changed in the last century is that we quadrupled our numbers while greatly increasing the power of our tools. Prior to this, we had the space, the resources, the leeway to pollute; nature would simply take it. Now, we don’t. It’s as if we were consuming and polluting in an expanding pattern around the globe and we just recently started bumping into ourselves. Suddenly, we are cluing in that the oceans are actually finite and that little ol’ us can indeed affect them, and unfortunately in a very significant manner.
Our task now? Truly internalize this lesson that has worked so well for so long on a small, local scale and then move quickly enough to create the legal and regulatory framework that will protect our oceans, an essential breadbasket of humanity. Because, we need the oceans…they are a non-negotiable item in the intricate formula that allows our species to survive on this planet. They are not a nice-to-have, they are a need-to-have. We simply can’t survive without them.
- a) Refuse single use plastics.
- b) Eat less, more sustainable seafood.
- c) Sign up for a newsletter at TreeHugger.com
A more in-depth Treehugger article relating to the oceans can be found by clicking here.