A Sea of Plastic

I have days when I walk through seas of plastic, where I consider carrying a bag, picking up all the rubbish, taking it to the nearest village or town, dumping it in the middle of the square and asking “why?” So much rubbish everywhere!

beautiful forest strewn with rubbish
beautiful forest strewn with rubbish
just outside a beautiful old monastery pikes of rubbish line the road
just outside a beautiful old monastery pikes of rubbish line the road
Fields of olive groves, where it's easy to find rubbish dumps
Fields of olive groves, where it’s easy to find rubbish dumps

I don’t want to keep on being blasé about our world, the environment…life. For years I thought I could never make  a difference, but the more I travel, and the more I speak with people, and see that there are people doing incredible things, I know that I want to be a part of that.

When I watched the documentary PeaceOneDay, I realised that if you believe in something enough, it can happen. So what do I believe in? How can I take what I am doing – my walking – and make a difference to what is important in the world? These are the questions which have occupied my mind for many months now.

In Crete I went to a local yurti for Ascension day with Anne-Laure and her friends, similar to the many local sagras all across Italy. The town hall had been converted to a kitchen, tables and benches lined the courtyard, and the musicians played local Cretica.

Here you can listen to the music and the sounds of the yurti which I recorded on the night:

There was so much food, wine and raki the tables were overflowing. Everybody was in festive mood.

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We sat down at a table; in the centre a little plastic bottle of raki. A young man arrived with plates of food – the meze to be served with the raki. His serving tray was overflowing with plastic – plastic plates with food covered in plastic bags, plastic cutlery…in plastic bags, plastic cups…in plastic bags; there were 4 of us and a sea of plastic filled the table. As I looked around I saw that every table had the same – some 200 long tables, filled with people…and plastic. Thankfully when they ordered food (the plastic meze was complimentary) it came on ceramic plates, and the cutlery was metal.

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The fiesta was organised by young people from the area: everybody working there was between 16 – 30 as far as I could tell. I talked with one of the organisers, and he explained that he is very proud of his village and his community, and that this event was backed by the church. When I asked him about all the plastic, he looked me direct in the eye and said just one word: “Greenpeace?” he asked. I told him no, just interested in the environment.

His response was completely logical: we don’t have enough money to provide non-plastic for everyone. “And if you come here tomorrow at 6am, you won’t even know there was a party”. “And the plastic? “It’s simple – we recycle”.

So here’s the problem: they feel they are doing all they can do – they use plastic, and then they recycle plastic. But it’s not that simple. Can all this plastic really be recycled? What actually happens to it all? What happens if you put non-recyclable plastic into a recycling bin? I must admit that I actually don’t know, and in fact the majority of people do not know, but now I realise I have been doing it…forever. Nobody really knows what is recyclable and what is not. It changes from country to country, and the different types of plastic cannot be put together. It’s a simple question of education but it needs to be prioritised. I am now actively trying to learn more about this, and I would encourage everybody to take a moment to think about it. Am I doing everything I can to reduce plastic consumption?

So how can we know? How can we educate and learn?

First check out this

Then check out this documentary: Trashed

I have discovered that the easiest thing I can do is to say NO to plastic. I am fed up of the sight of plastic discarded on the roads and in the countryside. There are days when I feel physically sick at so much waste and thoughtlessness. And there is something we can all do just by thinking a little more and making a conscious effort not to use plastic. And for extra inspiration, here’s a song that puts it in much sweeter tones than I ever could…


6 thoughts on “A Sea of Plastic

  1. I remember encountering seas of plastic on my travels as well. Especially on Olkhon Island, one of the most beautiful places in the world, wrecked by litter.

    Some friends of mine are so fed up of litter that they go for walks and pick up litter as they go: https://www.facebook.com/cleanerworld101?fref=ts

    If we started doing this more and more, of course we can make a difference. And also if we could get companies to use the same bloody plastic so we don’t have to worry about which plastic is which…

    Like

    1. Yep plastic is a BIG problem, and here in Greece nearly everybody drinks a cold coffee in a plastic cup at least once a day. And where does that cup go? very rarely in the recycling bin! And in the cafe’s it’s cheaper to get a take-away. I think it should be the other way round, AND people should be encouraged to start bringing their own cups. I know this happens in some places, but it’s the same as carrying your own shopping bags in reality. AND if plastic shopping bags were actually illegal (especially non biodegradable ones) then we’d have to start thinking about these things!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. See the GreenFriends site (link below) for more discussion about plastic. I have quoted this blog in a new forum there on Plastic. Please feel free to join the site and enter your own message!

    Liked by 1 person

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