Earth Day 2018 - Straws Suck

23 April 2018

White and Blue Planet Earth Day Poster

22 April 2018, is not just another day; it’s a day to celebrate this wonderful planet we live on! Yes, that’s right, Earth Day!

The Earth is the only home we know, a placed filled with so much wonder if you care to look up, down or around. Wonder may lie in someplace as simple as your garden with its flowers smiling back at you and the fresh aromas caressing your nostrils that morning after the rain. Wonder can lie in the power of the ocean with its coastline of gorgeous beaches, waves lapping on your toes and sandcastles being built in the sand. Wonder does lie through your window on a cold autumn evening, with leaves turning and wind settling in, with the sun nodding off and the stars sparkling awake. Wonder is everywhere!

But life gets busy, those mundane tasks however ordinary keep the cogs turning and the pockets lined but before we know it, we forget to smell the roses… In a world that is becoming so fast paced, where it is so easy to overlook the simple things it is important to remember to enjoy what nature offers, for it is good for the soul, but moreover to also take care and preserve what nature, in all its benevolence, rewards us with.  

Earth day is one such day of global celebration as well as mindfulness of the impacts we have on the environment. To give thanks and contemplate our place in this world and what we will leave behind. One lesson, if any to take away from this day is: no act is too small.

In 2015 it was estimated that between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year. It is further projected that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. Can you imagine?! Not so fantastic, but the main culprit is always plastic. But not all plastic is created equally; some are worse than others. Enter the straw. A single-use plastic that has such a fast turn-over rate and like other plastic takes forever to biodegrade, literally. This means after one use this plastic tube will be discarded, land up on a landfill or worse still it will find its way to the ocean; where it accumulates, breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces but will always be current in the system. A more recent but equally as chilling reminder, of the plastic crisis was the 6-tonne sperm whale that washed up on a beach in Southern Spain with 29 kg of plastic clogging up its stomach - that was this month, April 11th, 2018. Tragically this has happened many times before, with nostrils of turtles being clogged with straws; dissections of the stomachs of birds, cetaceans, fish and many other organisms often make us realise how extreme the calamity is. Now some might say, that doesn’t affect us down here in the Southern Hemisphere, right? Well, the currents beg to differ. Ocean currents may transport plastics far and wide, therefore it is important to be mindful of how your action here, may affect elsewhere and vice versa.

The world is finally coming to the horrific realization that you can put in as much as you want but at some point, the pot will start to run over… with more and more action being taken to curb the plastic crisis.  In 2018 the global Earth Day movement is also campaigning against plastic! There are currently many high-profile campaigns underway, specifically aimed at banning plastic straws. Just google it! In this war, science is in our corner too; researchers have characterized the structure of a newly discovered enzyme that can digest highly crystalline PET, the primary material used in the manufacturing of single-use plastics, clothing and carpets.

All is not lost and slowly but surely, we are all getting onboard. Remember: no act is too small. Recycle and reuse, deposit discarded line in fisherman’s bins, pick up litter… Something as simple as saying no to a straw at a restaurant may seem menial but if we all start doing it, it can be CATACLYSMIC…