Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Plastic pollution in our oceans

Midway Atoll is one of the most remote places on earth. It is home to the majority of the world's Laysan Albatross and also a vast number of other birds and marine animals. Yet it has the misfortune of being near the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Tragically, as a result, many adult albatross have been mistaking the plastic floating in the ocean for food and have been feeding it to their chicks.

A number of artists including the wonderful Chris Jordan are chronicling how plastic is devastating the albatross population on Midway. They have been sharing what they have found on their blog Midway Journey (and on Twitter).

The videos and images are often difficult to look at. But so very important.

In this short clip (the trailer for the film that is being made of their journey), Chris says "I don't think we act until we feel something".

These images were front of mind for me when I made a trip to the seaside while in the UK last month. A walk along a seemingly clean beach, quickly revealed a large amount of plastic garbage. Mostly bottle caps and plastic netting but also straws and pieces of hard miscellaneous plastic. As soon as I saw the first piece, all I could think of was that if I don't pick this up, it could end up in one of those images choking the belly of a baby albatross. Immediately I picked up a plastic bag that I found on the ground and started filling it with plastic. My whole family pitched in. We kept picking up garbage until we couldn't fit any more in the bag.

Here's what we collected:

We tied the bag tightly and put it in the garbage can as we left. Obviously it isn't great that this is all going to a landfill but I am so pleased to have taken it away from the ocean. And the albatross chicks.

Thank you Midway Journey team for your courage and for bringing your images to us.


Urban Girl said...

amazing that you collected all of this! I just watched Addicted to Plastic last weekend - had read about it on some other blogs. Did you hear about the plastic in the Ottawa River after the big storm we had? Really sad!

Green Grrl said...

Urban girl - OMG I had not heard about the plastic in the Ottawa River until I read your blog post. That's terrible! And an important reminder that plastic doesn't just pollute far away places like the ocean but our own rivers and streams.

How was Addicted to Plastic?

Urban Girl said...

It was good - some interesting things - liked how he showed at one point - a life without plastic how much we would have to avoid if we tried to get rid of it all. Also the end credits were great - so many people he just couldn't fit into the movie but he add a bit about all their projects/work.