Ever since I can remember I felt this special connection to the ocean. Growing up on the Washington and Oregon coast lines taught me from an early age how much I respect the roaring, powerful, life-giving waters that surrounded what I call home. After deciding to attend Hawaii Pacific University and exploring the beautiful island that is O’ahu, this connection only intensified and my passion for protecting this life force ignited.
When I moved here something new clicked. The melting pot culture of this island created a much smaller world view for me. People from countries across all seven continents come together to form what is the tourism industry. The multi-racial discourse in business is building the fastest growing economy in the world. But it was more than that. To put it in the most understandable perspective, I began to imagine the world as a cell. With the environment acting as a nucleus to harbor our needs, mitochondria as food sustenance providing healthy energy, ribosomes or organelles as us humans who have the responsibility to our earth to help the “cell” function as a whole. What is most interesting about cells, is that 70% of their mass is comprised of water. That statistic is unsurprisingly similar to that of the world’s water composition, which is 71%, with the oceans containing about 96.5% of the water content.
The uniqueness of a cell and its parts that make it whole is incredibly similar to that of Earth and therefore comparable. Using this cell-like symbolism to represent the Earth is the essence of what made me realize just how connected we all are. Every choice we make creates a butterfly effect. Trash that is poorly managed and dumped into international seas can be found on the opposite side of the world. Sea birds are becoming one of the most researched birds as the populations across the world decline due to accidental consumption of plastic (See photographer Chris Jordan’s photo and gallery below.)
Link to gallery: http://www.chrisjordan.com/gallery/midway/#CF000478%2019×25
Knowing that by the year 2030 the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish by volume, I am concerned for the overall health of our very own “cell.” Imagine 71% of your very own body containing more plastic pollution than the vital organs that make you, you. You’d probably be sick. Your body would weaken. You could even risk death, say these plastic pieces get stuck in your lungs or esophagus. How long do we have until Earth experiences the same fate?
This is an international environmental catastrophe and not enough emphasis is being placed on the severity of the effects.
Jeff Bridges discusses in the following video that the solution to plastic pollution is not recycling plastic. Plastic does not break down. Recycling plastic is actually just downsizing, waiting for someone else to throw it away. The solution is to USE LESS plastic as a purchasing value! Simply do not buy products wrapped in or containing plastic. Purchase the glass-wear substitution for $.5o more. Look for the same item but sold by a brand using wax paper. Watch the video below for more information beautifully narrated by Bridges, a well known actor using his fame for a great and impactful purpose.
I have the luxury of walking Kailua beach a couple mornings every week. Each step in the flour-textured sand and gentle kiss of each passing wave helps to ground me and give me purpose. But it only takes a couple yards of walking to encounter a washed up fishing net or plastic barrel that was carelessly tossed or lost in the ocean. In Hawaii, one of the most remote places on Earth located in the middle of the pacific ocean, we are first-hand experiencing what plastic pollution does and can mean for our future. Due to specific wind and ocean current patterns, certain areas are more prone to larger-scale pollution, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, pictured below.
All images found from Google.
The next time you go to the beach, I suggest to skip searching for those rare, shiny, bright colored shells that Hawaiian and other beautiful international beaches were once known for. Preserve the beauty of our Earth by instead picking up all of the plastic you can find. Trust me, this task is much simpler and quite frankly much more fun as plastic pollution is abundant on these beautiful shores. Fragmented blue plastic covers the East shores of O’ahu, and the more you open your eyes to it, the more obvious this detriment will become for you. What types of plastics do you find near your ocean waters? Protect OUR home. Pick plastic not shells.