A lovely calm morning in Frinton-On-Sea I wake up and go down to have breakfast. Unfortunately my grandad comes back in from the front lawn and tells me: “the seagulls have been at it again”. And all though it might sound like a code, I know what he means. I know that the seagulls have been at the rubbish bags again. Looking for food before the rubbish truck comes by. And they have scattered bits of plastic and paper, wrappings and waste all over he road, our front lawn and the neighbors to.
One of the neighbors is already at it, with a stick, searching for bits and bobs that could have gone astray. I go out with a kitchen glove and bag. I look in the bushes, pick from the grass, retrieve from the road. Where would all this have ended up if we had not collected it? What did the seaguls eat that could have not been proper food? Well, I tell you, the simple, sad and true answer is: this plastic would have ended up in our stomachs to.
You might say, it is not my fault if animals come rummaging, but I can tell you that your bin is not the only place where animals find plastic and eat it. They also find it in the sea. And yesterday I went to look for it.
I started on the left edge of the Frinton sea, looking towards the horizon. 6:10 pm. People are still sitting in their beach huts, children are still playing in he sand, owners are starting to walk with their dogs and the moon is making its first appearance. And although the beach looks clean and at a first glance you might not see any rubbish on it, the first thing I find within minutes, without even looking, is a glass bottle. Nearly intact. It has not been hear long, still with come bear in it and the label unworn I save it from a world journey before it reaches Denmark or somewhere even further.
But it is the only glass item I picked up in those 100 minutes I stayed down at the beach. You might have guessed by now what the other multiple items were made of: yes… Plastic. There were also cigarette stubs (that could have contaminated 80 litres of water each) pieces of string, foam, papers,… But the main feature was plastic: PLASTIC wrappers, PLASTIC bottles, PLASTIC balloons, PLASTIC pens, PLASTIC toys, PLASTIC everywhere!!
157 items in 100 minutes ( check the link for all the photos). It might not sound like a lot, it might even sound pathetic, considering they did not even fill 1 rubbish bag. But let me fill you in on something. 44% of all seabird species documented in the world have plastic in or around their bodies. Also, each year, enough plastic is thrown away o circle the world 5 times, and guess where lots of it goes…. THE SEA. And this sea is full of plastic produced in your life time (since in the last 10 years we have used more plastic than in the whole existence of this product), most of which (93%) has become “micro plastic” and is what the fish eat, turtles eat, birds eat… And guess what, we also eat when eating sea food.
Too hard to grasp? Well tell you what, I am taking on the 1 week challenge, I will be doing a beach clean up every day at 6 pm till next Wednesday on the Frinton beach (starting from the left as we look at the sea). Come on time or late and I can explain more about plastic pollution. Don’t be like those people that walked passed looking at me like a crazy person, don’t be like those who drew in the sand right next to rubbish and did not pick it up. Be like those who want to be the change that they want to see in the world. Be like the ones that think of the future with hope and strive to make the world a better place. Come, any day, every day, let me know or just come along. And if you just happen to have something planned every evening at 18H then do a clean up on your own! After all, that is what I did. And a few hundred squats later I am ready to do it again. Plus, the sky turns magic after all is done.