Recently my friend and I went on holiday to Thailand. I knew that I am very likely to find some rubbish, which I promised myself I will pick up. Every day we went on walks and with the help of my friend we picked up an "armful" each and would dispose it in the restaurants and hotels on the way. But one day there was stormy weather and what I saw the morning after was at least an hour and a half of work on a tiny little bit about a 7-minute walk on the beach if you ignored all this trash. We picked up cream and water bottles, toothpaste tubes, straws, never-ending water bottle caps, and some fishing equipment (here they seem to use polystyrene blocks that are made of small round balls). The last one was hell because the small particles were too light and would fly around, which made it merely impossible to pick up. On that day we managed to find a guy who had bin bags (more plastic, but hopefully away from the ocean). He gave us some extra bags to collect more on the way back. We also found a plastic basket, which was also spat out by the ocean and had bits of shells and sea life growing into it. We picked up some huge plastic sheets on the way that could be tied to make up a bag as we ran out of our own bags. We only worked one part of the beach, but there were areas further from the sea, which had endless rubbish left too.
I have never sweated this much in my life. Our 7-minute turned out an hour and a half walk was the sweatiest workout ever. We collected so so much (precisely 5 90 litre bags), and we still missed out on some nets and the bigger fishing constructions, which we weren't sure what to do about. What fascinated me is people (as always). Some stare at a beautiful view into the sea completely ignoring the fact that there is at least 5 items of plastic under their feet. People keeping up with their fitness on holiday were running on the beach ignoring an absolutely appaling state of their path. Bypassers showed thumbs up to us, yet wouldn't bend down to pick the bottle under their feet up. I don't want acknowledgement of my 'hard work', what I want is people to start caring about the environment because it is our responsibility.
We all consume plastic. Sometimes people give me holiday advise saying "don't go there, because it's dirty". But I have a question: who made it this dirty?? It's not the time to point at each other and say that the bottle on the beach isn't yours, that you're good and you have a reusable water bottle and a coffee cup at home. Pick it up. Take your pink glasses off, since you won't have this pretty beach soon. And it's crazy to see tiny crabs climb on the piles of plastic, small fish living in a plastic bottle with water, shells growing on old bits of plastic.
I suppose I prefer action over words and I just really hope that tourists coming to various areas of the world would treat the space like they treat their home or better (in case you're a messy person like me haha). Take responsibility, pick it up, think twice before taking free water bottles, straws and anything else. I know that the infrastructure in a lot of countries isn't fit to cut out water bottles or other forms of plastic. For instance, the airport security demands you not to have anything that can hold more than 100 ml in your hand luggage, which means that I cannot carry my water bottle. Most of the times I starve myself and don't get a water bottle till I get to my destination or a cafe that can give me tap water, other times I abide and get a plastic water bottle.
I suppose I am not offering a solution here. But in the UK ever more retailers are offering (sometimes more expensive) more lasting options from sponges you wash the dishes with to reusable straws if you're in a desperate need for one (not sure why: reapply that lipstick after sipping that drink goddaymn it). But what I do want to say is think: think whether you are in a desperate need for that snack wrapped in plastic, that water bottle, that dress that 100% came in plastic unless it's vintage (this comment is for me). I am not asking you to be perfect and starve yourself. But every time you get a takeaway, where is your rubbish going? You would be surprised how little plastic can actually be recycled. I often think whether I ever want children and one of the biggest reasons for me not to wish any is because I cannot handle responsibility of growing up a child in the air that's unbreathable, in the waters that soon will be unswimmable, in the streets full of landfill that no one knows what to do about. I cannot handle the idea telling them one day that when I'm gone they're going to have to deal with a century worth of rubbish and their environment has been damaged, killed, stabbed by the generations before them, including mine. I just fucking can't.
P.S. I always feel a little uncomfortable about too passionate, too emotional too much environmentalists, who are almost military in their speeches. But after seeing that beach and people's reactions, I understand the urgency a little more.