At the beginning of 2014 I started my plastic-free journey. Through shopping at bulk inn and farmers markets, through reusable shopping bags, drink bottles and coffee cups, through cooking more at home and eating less takeaways, I managed to get my plastic waste down to an average of 30gm a month.
Later that year I started weighing the plastic waste I picked up in order to understand my plastic waste footprint. I learnt that in 20mins I can easily pick up 5-6kg of plastic waste from the beach.
That meant that – in just 20mins, I’d managed to make NEGATIVE waste, of over 5kg.
So now some figures:
(assuming 20mins = 5kg of litter)
If I pick up plastic litter for 20mins a week once a week = 19,970gm per month removed from the ocean.
If one person per household in my street did this (29 households) = 579,130gm per month removed from the ocean.
If one person per household in my town (15,768) tried this? 32,471,220gm of plastic waste per month removed from the ocean.
If one person per household in NZ were able to get their waste down to 30gm/month and pick up 5kg of plastic from the beach once a week, we would be removing 35,684,393,000 grams of plastic waste from the ocean EVERY MONTH. THAT’S OVER 35 MILLION KILOS. PER MONTH.
Play with the figures if you like, take it up to 100gms plastic waste, imagine you went twice a month or 2 times a month, imagine it were only half the households in NZ. It’s still a huge amount.
We don’t need to spend millions of dollars on “clean up” machines and developing “degradable” plastics.
WE CAN FIX THE OCEAN OURSELVES. But we have to make some changes, you and I and everyone we know. We’re all in this.
Science has shown us that as much as HALF the plastic waste in the Gyre winds up back on our beaches for a time, before being pulled back into the ocean. That’s right – each time the Gyre completes a cycle (every 3-4 years) it jettisons plastic waste, which makes its way back to the beach, before eventually being pulled back to the ocean again.
Which is why – beach clean ups are gyre clean ups.
Turn down our own plastic waste + Pick up the plastic waste from the beach = GYRE WASTE REDUCTION.
Corporations make plastic because we buy plastic. We are the problem.
Plastic waste is there because we create it. We are the answer.