Apologies for the slightly misleading title of this post. Based on today’s beach combing expedition at Kimmeridge what it should actually say is that Ocean Plastic is already here in abundance!
Plastic debris is not hard to find at low-tide. Some of it instantly recognisable but other pieces are so weathered and worn it’s hard spot them. They blend into the environment and do not look out of place in a rock pool bursting with colour and irregular shapes & sizes. It’s no wonder ocean plastic is finding it’s way into the food-chain of marine life and ultimately humans.
One of the first pieces I found was black rubbery material that was sticking out of the ground. It looked just like seaweed. Then these smooth shards of fibreglass that look like cuttlefish or elongated shells. It’s not until you turn them over and see their construction – you almost can’t believe your eyes!
Ocean plastic is not a local problem is a global issue. An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year and it’s accumulating. The planet does not know what to do with plastic that ends up in the natural environment. It doesn’t rot or break-down it breaks-up into smaller & smaller pieces. It’s plastics durability that also makes it so hazardous as quite simply it never goes away.
Ocean Plastic is killing marine life, littering the seabed, surface & our shores. The consequences for human health are uncertain but but one thing is for sure. We cannot continue with this global disposable lifestyle without choking our oceans – the basis for all life on earth. It’s no longer a case of saying ‘somebody needs to do something about this’. It’s more like ‘we can & will do something about this’ before plastic pollution gets much worse.
50% of all plastic is disposable single-use items like bottles, straws & wrapping. These disposables have an average lifespan of just 12 minutes yet the material they are made of will last on and on. Lets just think about that, we only use it for 12 minutes but it lasts longer than our lifetime. Quite simply these disposable plastics need to be replaced with something much more eco-friendly as quickly as possible and as consumers we have a chance to vote with our feet.
A Plastic Ocean IS coming to Dorset for one-night only. A new feature-length adventure documentary that brings to light the consequences of our global disposable lifestyle. We thought we could use plastic once and throw it away with negligible impact to humans and animals. That turns out to be untrue. After the film there will be a discussion in the auditorium about the issues raised.
In the foyer we have a selection of sponsor stalls, campaign groups and the plastic-free Sound Kitchen café with cinema snacks and bar. This is the place to meet and mingle with like-minded people from across the region so please allow enough time before and after the film to socialise and network. Tickets available from www.creativedynamo.net/tickets and Wimborne Tourist Information Centre.
Recent reports suggest there are more pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans than fish. That’s because large pieces of plastic waste debris from fishing, beaches, rivers & shipping break-up rather than break-down in the natural environment. Simply speaking one piece of plastic can become hundreds nay thousands even millions of smaller pieces called microplastics.
Floating plastic waste including microplastics accumulate in naturally occurring Gyres formed by ocean currents and winds. These ‘islands’ of plastic waste can be the size of countries yet very little has been known about them until recently. An island is not really an accurate description as there is no solid mass nor does it stay in one place. It is more akin to a ‘plastic soup’. BUT who is responsible for cleaning-up this mess – nobody knows?
A Plastic Ocean is the result of four years investigative film-making. A multi-disciplinary quest by the Plastic Ocean Foundation to document and explain the scope and scale of the problem. Parts of the film also look at land-based plastics, their use, toxicity and effects on human health. What they have discovered is a toxic legacy which cannot be solved in a generation or two but will take centuries to undo if it can be undone at-all.
In a scenario that is all-to-familiar to environmentalists trying to combat climate change through a reduction in fossil fuels. Plastics are ubiquitous, their use is increasing, fuelled by global demand yet supplied by an industry with no interest in reducing the amount of product that comes to market. Recycling, we are told, is not the answer as it represents only a tiny proportion of the total amount of plastics in circulation and the rest is due to accumulate.
This accumulation of plastic waste in the marine environment is entering the food chain at ALL levels. From microscopic organisms to gigantic blue whales and that means you too ‘if the plastics are in the food-chain for the dolphin it’s also in our food-chain’. But perhaps surprisingly it’s not the human stories that causes the viewer the most discomfort. It’s the distressing scenes of wildlife; a beached whale dies after ingesting a plastic sheet, seabird chicks die of malnutrition, stomachs full of plastic and too heavy to ever fly.
After dealing with the largely physical effects of plastic accumulation the film goes on to explain disturbing side-effects associated with chemicals used in plastic. These chemicals known as Endocrine Disruptors also make their way into ‘consumers’ be they marine or human through the accumulation of plastic products and waste. I am not going to go into this is any detail here as Wikipedia does a pretty good job.
Plastic Oceans have thankfully released a scientific report backing-up their claims made in the film. There are a lot of facts and figures in this film however some of these facts and figures are displayed in Kilograms and Lbs whereas others are only displayed in Lbs which is a bit confusing for us Europeans / non-US audiences.
A Plastic Ocean represents the tip-of-the-iceberg when it comes to actually doing something about this problem. As mentioned earlier the Gyres and floating ‘islands’ are a fairly new phenomena and no governing body wants to take responsibility for clearing-up the mess. There are very few ‘solutions’ on offer here other than to refuse disposable plastics and dispose of your own waste responsibly. I would also like to add joining or organsing a beach clean-up operation will remove plastics that would otherwise find it’s way back into the sea.
Should all plastics be deemed a hazardous waste? That’s the feeling many are left with after seeing the film A Plastic Ocean.
A Plastic Ocean is coming to Wimborne on Friday the 5th May Ecotainment! Presents…