Over Easter, whilst our youngest son was sleeping, our eldest son (who has just turned five) and I sat and watched a BBC documentary on the Galapagos Islands. It was fascinating and he was enthralled and glued to it for the whole hour. This is the trailer for it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZMqB1VsY9w
For those of you outside of the UK, I think you can see the whole episode for free if you put into a search engine ‘BBC Galapagos 2017’. Don’t ask me if it is legal though as I have no idea. Anyway, moving on….
There they have a turtle called the Green Sea Turtle and it is the only species of turtle that nests in the Galapagos Islands. However, as this BBC documentary explained, sick Green Sea turtles are washing up on the islands and when the post mortem is done, their stomachs are full of plastic.
I was so sadden/amazed to hear this. The Galapagos Islands are still mostly unpopulated, although the population is growing on a few of the islands. They are 1,000 km off South America – i.e. they are in the middle of nowhere!
It made me wonder, where does all the plastic come from in our seas? How far can it actually travel?
According to the National Geographic, about 80% of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from land-based activities in North America and Asia.
Trash from the coast of North America takes about six years to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, while trash from Japan and other Asian countries takes about a year. Because the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is so far from any country’s coastline, no nation will take responsibility or provide the funding to clean it up (http://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/).
Typical, hey?!? When you have some of the largest and richest countries in the world contributing to it, but no one is willing to clean it up.
But where does the waste from the UK end up? Like the US and Asia, a lot of our waste sadly ends up in the oceans. As we have 1,000s of miles of coast line and with the ebb and flow of the tides, a lot ends up on our beaches (the photo is of a beach in Scotland).
But it does go much further as well….
In Norway they have started a plastic bottle recycling scheme, similar to what we used to have in the UK for glass bottles of soda. If you return a plastic bottle or soda can to one of the recycling points, you get some money back.
They have a great advert to promote it also – so very Scandinavian and it reminds me of why I love Europe so much! Two men doing their recycling whilst a blond and very sexy Norwegian lady smiles at them:
But, more importantly that the classic Euro advert, it works! The latest figures available from Norway, show 96% of plastic bottles are returned by consumers for recycling. When they looked at where the plastic bottles now come from that wash up along their coastline, they are not from Norway. Sadly, a lot of them are from the UK.
I have no idea why we have not done the same thing in the UK, as it is a brilliant idea. Hopefully the UK government will wake up to this problem soon.
I am off to the beach this weekend with my boys, and like my father taught me, we will be taking a bin liner and litter picking as part of our day out. Some take their kids to Disney, others to LEGOLAND, whilst my boys get to litter pick on the Kent coast. It sure is beautiful though. For those of you who don’t know Kent, this is the beach where we are going – you can see the White Cliffs.