In our latest episode of A Local’s Perspective, we spent time with surfer, teacher, designer, and all-around good human Jasson Salisbury at his home on the New South Wales, North Coast.
He spoke on conscious behaviour when it comes to our environment. So many of us spend out our lives doing the nine to five grind, bombarded with negativity through news and social media, and feeling lost when it comes to making a difference. His mindset is one of appreciation and enjoying the natural world. See the sunrise, recognise all the good things our environment gives us, give back and make changes in our own lives and be a role model for those close to you—family, friends and your community.
His mindset is one of appreciation and enjoyment of the natural world… We need to take a close look at our home. From afar, our beaches look pristine and the water clean, so we turn our attention to online images of plastic pollution in other parts of the world. This grim approach leaves many feeling helpless and lost as to how they can make a difference.
This year we’ve experienced the devastating effects of climate change worldwide. Australia, Siberia, Amazonia, Indonesia and California are all on fire. There’s flooding in East Africa, England, Mexico, New Zealand and Venice. It snowed in Los Angeles, and there have been shotput sized hailstones on the Sunshine Coast. And an undeniable public health emergency with close to one million people dying each year due to preventable diseases linked to mismanaged plastic waste. And there’s more terrible news every day, numbing us to the gravity of the environmental crisis. We must all collectively act now.
To deny climate change and the impact humans have on the environment is foolish. The facts and repercussions are right in front of us. And if what you see online isn’t enough, walk outside you’ll feel the stress of the world.
We all have a responsibility to our planet. It’s given us everything, while only a few of us give back in a way that will affect change. And it’s so important to not be complacent. Don’t look at the plastic covering our coastline, or the smoke diffused sunrise and consider it the new norm. The louder we are and the stronger our individual and collective actions are, the more significant the change we’ll be able to affect.
When it comes to ocean plastic pollution, here are a few facts:
- An estimated 8 million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans each year. Ocean currents have created five enormous, plastic whirlpools called gyres. This ocean plastic waste sinks, remains in the gyres, or is distributed to coastlines.
- The largest of these is the North Pacific Ocean Gyre. It’s estimated that 87,000 tonsof plastic are currently floating in it. The plastic is distributed over an area the size of Texas, and is mostly tiny bits called microplastic. This garbage soup is a deadly trap for the marine life that encounter it.
- Close to 135,000 whales are entangled in plastic marine debris every year in addition to the millions of birds, turtles, fish and other marine animals.
- From sea to plate. No matter your seafood preference, every bite you take contains plastic contaminants. Microplastics in the ocean are at catastrophic levels, and the seafood you eat is sourced from around the world. The question is no longer ‘Are we eating plastic in our seafood?’ Scientists are now trying to establish how bad plastic is for humans.
- Australians use 130 kg of plastic per person each year. Only 12% of that is recycled. Annually around 130,000 tonnes of plastic will find its way into Australian waterways and into the ocean.
- Single-use plastics account for the majority of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans: plastic straws, plastic bags, plastic take away containers, plastic water bottles. A notable mention goes to soy-sauce fish bottles.
- Recent studies have shown up to 4000 microplastic fragments per square kilometre in waters around Australia, with some parts having around 15,000 to 23,000 fragments per square kilometre. These include the beaches of Sydney, Southern QLD and also more remote areas such as south-west Tasmania.
Start small. Get outside and reconnect with nature.
There’s a connection that we feel when we’re immersed in our natural environment, a confirmation that we’re part of something greater than ourselves. By being more conscious of the natural world, we can become much more aware of those things that present environmental harm. Let them be unsustainable practices in your own life: plastic waste or multi-national oil companies threatening our coastline, or a rogue Prime Minister that is systematically tearing down all support for our environment.
Reduce and avoid single-use plastics
Plan and be considerate about how you use products containing plastic. The majority of single-use plastics can be completely avoided and progressively removed from your life:
- Refuse plastic bags and bring your own reusable non-plastic bag
- Give up bottled water and coffee cups. Buy a reusable aluminium water bottle and coffee cup.
- Buy in bulk including refills. Get to the farmers’ markets or bulk food store.
- Avoid individually wrapped products including fruit and vegetables.
- Carry your own containers for take-out food and leftovers and bulk foods.
- Refuse the straw! Use your lips.
The key is starting small and building from there. Do what you can, remove more single-use plastic from your life and over time. Just don’t take too long… 100 more ways to avoid plastic here: https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
Pick up trash and intercept plastics
See that plastic bottle in the sand? Pick it up. Doesn’t matter if you’re in the ocean or the bush, it takes no effort at all to pick up a few handfuls of plastic waste when you see it. Start off as an individual, then involved with a community group or support initiatives focused on cleaning up plastic waste. These guys are doing great work:
- Take 3 for the Sea https://www.take3.org/
- Australian Marine Debris Initiative https://www.tangaroablue.org/
- Corona’s Protecting Paradise Beach Cleanups, which are planned again for this summer around Australia
- Clean Up https://www.cleanup.org.au/
- Seabin Project https://seabinproject.com/
- Ocean Cleanup Project https://theoceancleanup.com/
Changing our consumption behaviour will create demand for sustainable solutions. From clothing to hardware, commodities to convenience products, all have eco-innovative options that use sustainable raw materials or even up-cycled materials from ocean plastic waste! Ultimately, though, it’s up to us as consumers to demand these products.
Finally, this is the only home we have. There’s nothing else out there for us apart from the home we have right now. What the world looks like in the future is going to entirely depend on what we do in the next few years. So get outside, enjoy our natural world and act now.