Updated: May 8, 2021
As I was walking along the Carenage on Wednesday, I saw someone on a boat empty out a dustpan into the sea. I did not see exactly what fell into the water, but it wasn’t just ‘dust’. It looked like all kinds of assorted debris.
The ocean is so unimaginably vast that it is easy to think that throwing a little garbage into it will not hurt. Well, it all depends what you throw in. Or what blows in. And how many millions of people throw “a little garbage” in.
Much of the rubbish is plastic. Plastic is made of oil. It has had substances added to it to give it colour, shape, rigidity etc, and these substances are often toxic. It is said that plastic breaks up, but it never breaks down. It photodegrades in the ocean into microscopic pieces – like fog, or cloud. These tiny pieces attract other toxins, often coming from industrial waste or oil spills. And they latch onto plankton, which fish feed on, and which produce at least half of the world’s oxygen.
The particles are so minute that they do not just pass through the digestive system of fish: they end up in the fish tissue, becoming part of its body. And then we eat the fish. We are actually eating our own waste. Plastic has now been found in many foodstuffs worldwide, in water, beer, honey, fruit …and in people, as well as fish. There is no way to dispose completely of plastics. Limited recycling is possible. All we can do is to use as little plastic as we can, and to give it to Solid Waste to dispose of as best they can. If it is left in the soil, or is burned, it is at least as dangerous as if it is put in the sea. It is thought that, by weight, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea in just thirty years’ time.
The ocean is not a garbage bin, it is not a flush toilet. It feeds us, it attracts our tourists, it is a major source of employment. It must be kept clean as you would keep your clothes, your house, your car clean.
Two quotes from a lifelong marine biologist, Sylvia Earle:
We must protect our ocean as if our lives depended on it. Because they do.
No water, no life. No blue, no green.
Written by The Grenada Green Group (G3)