According to a report released yesterday, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean by weight than fish.
Sounds unbelievable to us, on an island known for its clean and green image. But if we continue as we are, then in 40 years’ time you’ll be as likely to encounter a plastic bag as a flathead. And we are all responsible in our own little ways.
An example: I’m a regular swimmer at the Cataract Gorge, mornings and nights. When I first wander down in the early morning the grass surrounding the pool is free of trash, trimmed immaculately by the resident wildlife.
When I return for a late arvo dip it is a different story; chip packets, plastic bottles, lolly wrappers and the ever-present cigarette butts abound. Not to mention the spike in discarded inflatable devices adrift in the reeds. It’s a trash site and it goes against everything Tasmania aspires to be; clean, green and healthy.
Much of this rubbish is recyclable. A recent conversation with Alderman Rob Soward about installing recycling bins at the First Basin to prevent this waste going to landfill was productive. I hope the powers that be can make this happen.
What’s more important is that most of that rubbish is unnecessary. We choose to buy drink plastic bottles, we choose to eat food in excessive packing, and we choose plastic cutler and disposable coffee cups. Many of us choose to leave our rubbish behind. These are all choices and we need to reassess them today.
Single use plastic is a curse we are placing on future generations. The average time it takes for a plastic bottle to completely break down is 450 years. Some degrade faster, but it might be the year 3000 before the worst of them do. Literally the year 3000. Think hard about that next time you see a plastic bottle in a trash can.
Three months ago in a small village in Indonesia, and I was trying to explain to an old bloke the supposed virtues of putting your rubbish in the bin.
“I get it” he says “but what’s the difference between a piece of rubbish sitting on top of the ground in front of my house, and a piece of rubbish buried in the ground at the back of the village?”
And it’s a good question. The rubbish still exists, and we are choosing to support the industries that create it every day. Future generations of people, not mention animals and plant life, will suffer for the choices we are making right now.
So how can we reduce the plastic piling up at the Gorge, in landfill and in our seas? Simple steps, like not putting your fresh produce is a completely unnecessary freezer bag at the supermarket, are a start. Carry a drink bottle with your everywhere. A keep-cup for coffees in your bag before you leave the house. Less packaged food and more plastic-free whole foods: good for your health and future generations. Recognise that we have a choice, and choose to say no to single-use plastic.
It’s not a radical act. We can still spend all day with our heads in our phones and watch strangers cook food for sport on television. You don’t need to move into a cave. You can still live your normal life.
Just do it with less plastic.
For positive advice and some occasional whinging about how to reduce our reliance on plastics in Tasmania, visit Zero Waste Tasmania @