I have always been on the fringe of environmentalism and although my background in education is firmly planted in the realm of activism, I, like so much of the rest of the planet it seems, are always looking for a silver bullet. Climate change? oh some clever guy will figure that out, deforestation? governments will come to their senses and sort that, over fishing? we’ll stop before we run out, and plastic? oh you know someone will invent something to collect it all.
Trouble is, none of that is really happening. Those silver bullets don’t exist, it’s about collective change, which is both empowering in that we can all make a difference, but also daunting in the fact that we all have to do something. I love this video from Martin Dorey at The 2 Minute Beach Clean. A group in the community getting together and cleaning up part of the town of Bude and stopping a load of rubbish getting into the sea.
I get an email or two about Boyan Slat’s Gyre cleaning boom system which will clean up the world’s oceans in 5 years or something. I won’t go into it, but it’s got so many issues, there isn’t any way that system will survive, and there are many reasons why it won’t work as well. If you’d like to read more, the guys at 5Gyre’s have written THIS. I’m not saying it won’t work anywhere, but the trouble is this sort of thing goes viral and the world thinks: problem solved, lets keep consuming, someone’s dealing with our shit.
There are no silver bullets, but the answers are simple – community action. There are large scale cleanup devices which will surely work (google sea bin, great for harbours), but the solution is this – don’t use single use plastics. Where you must use plastic (and it isn’t the enemy in a proper application) recycle it, pick up rubbish not just at the beach but everywhere you see it, and do beach cleans. By cleaning beaches you’re removing plastic in the most environmentally sound way possible.