“Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test, consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.” M. Kundera
Plastic – the bane of my existence. Everything is wrapped in plastic these days including my kids’ snacks which is an exercise in frustration trying to get the dumb plastic off & requiring a sharp tool to do so (along with the odd profanity thrown in for good measure!).
And plastic is dumb frankly. OK, plastic has many valuable uses like being used in hip replacements, disposable syringes or hard hats to protect construction workers etc. However when used as a “convenience” it’s a warrior that knows no foe. One million plastic bags are consumed every minute, and plastic bags shockingly take 500 to 1000 years to disintegrate. These bags use up our natural resources, consume energy to manufacture, create litter, and is killing off our precious marine life.
Here’s the journey of a plastic bag. It gets taken home from a store, gets thrown in the garbage, taken to a dump until a gust of wind takes it for a ride, usually into a sewer or river eventually making its way into our oceans. Once there, it causes all sorts of harmful havoc to our marine life especially turtles (yes I continue my love affair with the turtle; see previous blog).
Sea turtles I think have put up with enough. They were around before humans joined the party and though they came before us, they’ve sure had to adapt to accommodate us. Despite their fortitude, these majestic creatures are suddenly struggling to survive due in part to the things people are “doing” (insert plastic debris) to the oceans and beaches. Plastic in the form of bags, water bottles, balloons, food wrappers etc. poses a huge threat to our marine life killing off more than 100 million marine animals each year. Holy crap batman! And sadly thousands of sea turtles accidentally swallow plastic bags, balloons, bottles, and food wrappers because it resembles their food. This debris will choke them or lodge in their gut starving them to death. Nice picture huh?
Turtles don’t just contribute to our marine eco-systems; they have become a valuable asset in the tourist industry. Turtles are very much like movie stars to vacationers as they enrich the typical “sun, sea and surf” experience. Yet with all they’ve withstood, plastic may be their undoing. Death is part of the natural world, but when humans heavily contribute to the demise of a species it’s time to ensure their survival by making changes. Some countries are working diligently to ban plastic bags entirely.
All I know is if turtles are the oldest living creature on our planet built to withstand ice ages and to outlive the dinosaur, I sure don’t want to find out what would happen to our world if sea turtles aren’t in it. If I can help it, I will never use a plastic bag again now that I know what I do…Want to read more about plastic and its harmful effects to our environment? Then read this enlightening article from Rolling Stone magazine: www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-plastic-bag-wars-20110725
Food for thought – sea turtles control the jellyfish population and jellyfish reduce the fish population. Next time you get stung by a jellyfish, you will probably take your hat off to your friend, the mighty turtle 😉