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Stephen R. Covey

Water Is Life

February 6th, 2018

Our oceans are becoming overrun by plastic waste which is having a devastating impact. Here are two videos that offer different solutions. The first puts forward the idea that cleaning the ocean is not the priority; that we need to prevent the plastic finding its way into the sea in the first place, the analogy being that cleaning up the oceans is like trying to scoop water out of a bath tub to stop it overflowing, when the obvious answer is to turn off the tap! The second is a genius idea designed to gather and remove the waste. It seems to me that both these solutions need to work in tandem. See what you think…

4 Responses to “Water Is Life”

  1. These are both interesting films and I applaud anyone who is trying to help resolve the problem of plastic pollution but….

    Everyone who hasn’t been living with their head in a bucket for the last few years will have heard of the Great Garbage Patch, unfortunately this term brings to mind large pieces floating on the surface, this is very far from the truth. Most ocean plastic is micro plastic, of less than 1cm which is distributed throughout the water column (and for this reason the term “Garbage Gyres” is now used) the idea that it could simply be scooped up from the surface is misguided. There is also the problem that in removing plastic from the surface, you would inevitably also catch large amounts of small fish and other marine life, which is in far greater density towards the surface. I do not know how or even if, it would be possibly for a system to differentiate between a living organism and a plastic.

    In the film about giving recycled plastic a value to help the poor, again I applaud the idea but with reservations because no matter how good the idea, recycling is NOT turning off the tap, it is merely slowing down the flow.

    Yes we all should recycle when at all possible but recycling is not always as simple as it sounds. There are many types of plastic, most of which have to be recycled separately, yet many items are made with a mixture of plastics making it difficult or impossible to recycle and filtering them out adds to the costs of the procedure. Generally plastics are down cycled, for example large amounts of recycled plastic is used to create fabrics for clothing which when washed, liberates plastic fibers which in turn find their way into the oceans and into the food chain. Then there is a limit to the number of times an item of plastic can be recycled and lastly what happens to all that plastic that cannot, for what ever reason, be recycled ?

    The only solution to the problem of plastic in the oceans is to really turn off the tap!

    There are plenty of alternatives, including non petroleum based plastics, that could be used to replace most if not all the plastics we currently use. We as consumers have to demand the alternatives and reduce our use of the rest.

    The Ellen Macarthur Foundation is doing some interesting work in encouraging the development of circular economies and they offer some great free resources for schools. I would recommend their various web sites which can be found through the following link.

  2. Hi Philip,
    The largest source of plastic in the oceans, is the waste from car tyres, i.e. the little tiny fragments that rub off your tyres as you drive. The rain washes these into rivers and eventually into the sea. I cant see any solution to that other than ban motor vehicles! The next biggest source is from synthetic fibres, from washing clothes. Of course we can all help that one by buying clothes of natural fibres, but banning it is unlikely.

    When you think about it, the industrialised world has perfected the technique of extracting oil from the deep in the earth where it did no harm, and redistributing it in small amounts throughout our environment willy nilly. .No doubt over 1000s of years it will eventually be trapped within the earth again, but not any time soon.

  3. Water is the “Life Blood” of Gaia. Thanks for sharing these thought provoking videos, Philip. Although each solution may have shortcomings, each one also has benefits. And they can inspire us to do a “Personal Inventory” of our own use of plastics, & find alternatives. We Must “Turn off the Tap,” & not just recycle. The “Good News” is that intelligent, heart-centered humans are actually exploring ways to help clean up the Waters. The more joining in the “cause,” the better the final outcome will be.

  4. Absolutely Brigit. All these approaches have value and thank you Joe and Claire – good information and resources!

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