Well, we did it again – Gunk in the Gulf, and what we can do – was a thought provoking forum with heaps of fascinating information to digest (pardon the pun) about the problems caused by plastics in the (not just) marine environment.
We were most fortunate to hear from four terrific speakers – all passionate about understanding the economics, complexities, ethics and implications of waste that ends up in our oceans – and particularly the pervasiveness and persistence of plastics.
John Phillips (CE of KESAB), Kristian Peters (AMLRNRM Marine Scientist), Sue Gibbs (Marine Mammal Biologist) and Sarah-Jo Lobwein (Marine ecology advocate) provided a range of angles on this vexing issue.
The elephant in the room for all speakers was the magnitude of rogue plastics in the world. There are five huge oceanic gyres of plastic swirling and growing larger – and our activities as consumers are NOT helping.
Common themes were:
- Inconsistent policy here and abroad
- Confusing and misleading information about plastics and recycling
- A mismatch of resources, demand and ability to process recyclables
- Insufficient information about options/alternatives
- The importance of communities in taking action and effecting change
The impacts on marine animals and environments is shocking and graphic, but all to easy to NOT see. But our last speaker, Sarah-Jo, while reiterating much of what was said by John, Kristian and Sue, offered some practical actions that we can all take to turn around unconscious habits or even more importantly put pressure on retailers to change.
The take-home message is that we can ALL make relatively simple changes in our lives to stop adding to plastic wastes!