The coast that we love most

There’s more than an estimated 268,940 tonnes of rubbish floating in our oceans. Although the beautiful beaches of the Tweed Coast are relatively pristine, the plastic problem is evident. The photo above shows rubbish picked up along Casuarina beach along the high tide mark. This was found over about 200m and 15 minutes of collecting.

“Despite its vital importance, we are currently treating our ocean like an enormous dump. A whole garbage truck’s worth of plastic ends up in the ocean every minute, and we are way overdue in doing something about the problem”

World Economic Forum

The cost of convenience

The human population has grown accustomed to convenience, resulting in an explosion of single use plastics over the past half-century. These plastics find their way into the ocean, getting broken up into small pieces that take thousands of years to break down. Disturbing scenes such as the Bali video below illustrate the scale of the problem.

Marine creatures are mistaking Microplastics and plastic bags as food. Often becoming entangled and drowning, or choking or starving after eating it. Plastics enter the food chain, including the food that we eat. Traces have been found in pretty much all species of fish. Plastic toxins have been shown to disturb hormone production and interfere with reproductive systems. There are also suspected carcinogens in some plastics. The degradation and damage to marine eco-systems, and contamination of food chains has catastrophic implications.

“Once plastic is in the ocean, marine animals are suffering from either becoming tangled up or eating it leading to suffocation and starvation. Plastic has a long legacy too, breaking down into smaller and smaller unidentifiable pieces and lasting thousands of years.”

Australian Marine Conservation Society

What kind of mess are we leaving for future generations?

It’s important that we educate children about the problem, they will be the ones dealing with the consequences and looking for ways to fix the problem.

Take a container and go ‘treasure hunting’ for plastics at your local beach. It’s a great way to create awareness with kids and get them thinking about why saying no to single use plastics is important. Sure it’s a drop in the ocean when you look at the scale of the problem, but we have to start somewhere and every little bit helps.

Resources and information

There’s amazing organisations and projects underway, fighting hard to address the plastic problem. The links below provide a wealth of information around the issues at hand, projects and ways we can help.

Australian Marine Conservation Society – How you can help

World Economic Forum – 8 steps to solve the ocean’s plastic problem

Plastic Pollution Org – The Great Plastic Tide

The Ocean Clean Up – The largest cleanup in history

ABC Article – A few ways you can help

Australian Seabird Rescue

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