I was in Hawaii a few years ago with my wife and woke up early. I walked along the manicured resort beach, then kept going. I had to climb over a fence and found it was there for a good reason – the beaches beyond it were BURIED in plastic garbage.
Definitely not a Kodak moment. Apparently, the powers that be in Hawaii only care about the beaches most people actually see.
We’ve all heard about how the ocean and sea creatures have been buried by plastic, about whales washing up on beaches, their bellies filled with plastic bags and nets,
about seals getting plastic stuck around their necks and choking as they grow,
about birds dying from ingesting tiny, colorful plastic pieces they mistook for food.
There’s actually an “island” of plastic a few miles wide in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Think about that for a second. It was bad before, but the recent Japanese tsunami polluted the Pacific Ocean with not only thousands of tons of plastic garbage but radiation, too. The oceans are in trouble, and so are we. Some environmental groups say the media are not even reporting on the possible public health repercussions because a) they fear there would be panic in the streets and b) there’s nothing we can do about the radiation anyway. It can’t be picked out of the ocean like plastic bottles can.
My kids think I’m crazy because I clean up the beach every time we go, and pick up plastic trash when we’re out walking. I always tell them the problem is everyone waits for someone else to do it, so nobody does, and that they have to BE that “someone else.” I annoy them further by singing a lyric from a 1960’s song by a group called Ten Years After to them – “I’d like to change the world, but I don’t know what to do, so I’ll leave it up to you.”
When I was a kid, I came across this poem. The wisdom of it stuck.
I came across this video last night about two surfers who are actually DOING something about the trash in our oceans. For every bracelet you buy, a pound of plastic trash is removed from the ocean. Supporting people like this is doing something, too. (I bought mine last night.)
When my kids carelessly make a mess, I tell them, “It’s your mess. Clean it up.” The same is true of adults. This is our mess.
When they don’t treat each other kindly, I also tell my kids that loving someone requires more than just saying “I love you”, and that they need to show love in every word and action all day long. Most people (except the most spiritually and mentally vacant among us) love the ocean and the life it holds, too, but it’s our words and actions that really show it.
Another big influence on me as a kid was John Denver, possibly the greatest ecologically-minded artists ever. He died while flying an experimental aircraft in 1997. The world sure could use him now. Here’s one of his songs. Some of the images posted by the creator of the video are difficult to look at, but the things that are hardest to see often inspire the most compassion.
To order a bracelet and remove a pound of trash from the ocean, go to https://4ocean.com