Last night we had Dr Tony Butt give us a presentation at the Kommetjie Surf Shop on the PLASTIC NIGHTMARE. As a group of surfers and ocean lovers this is an issue very close to our hearts, which led to some passionate debate after the talk. Tony holds a BSC in marine science and a PHD in physical oceanography, but he certainly doesn't claim to be an expert on the problem or that he holds the answers to solving it. The purpose of his talk was merely to present the extent of the issue and to spark a conversation around it.
Tony reinforced the idea that once plastic is created it never goes away. That yes it can be recycled but only into lower grade products that at some point will end up in the landfill and then the sea! Once it end s up in the sea it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces(micro plastics) that get eaten by fish, birds and other marine animals, poisoning them and ultimately us. If you doubt this is happening take a stroll down long beach after the Northwest wind has been blowing and take a look at how much plastic is washed up onto the beach.
Tony listed single use plastics as the biggest nightmare and at the top of the list is enemy number one water bottles, then shopping bags and coffee cups. These products are created and then used for a few minutes and then thrown out (a ridiculous practice). There were several experts in the audience and Martin Webb suggested that to implement any meaningful change government would need to get involved and pass legislation to prevent the use and manufacturing of single use plastics. But on a personal level we could all make a small difference by saying no to the above products and using our own water bottles, coffee cups and bags that could potentially last a lifetime without the same negative impact. I certainly feel empowered with some new knowledge and inspired to make a change.