“Litter is an injustice to nature”
— Sign at Beacon’s, circa 1971
I have hated pollution since as far back as I can remember.
Then, in 1969 I took a course at Maui Community College from a Mister Fredrickson who tuned us on to the idea of global warming and other coming disasters that wouldn’t sweep the world for another 30 years.
From there, my house has conserved, recycled and picked up after ourselves, without ever hosing off the sidewalks in hopes that our junk would go somewhere else.
When last month I had the rare opportunity to hear Capt. Charles Moore at the Encinitas Library, I was shocked to realize how much of a dump our ocean had become.
Moore, who is one of the leading authorities on ocean borne plastics, reports seeing plastic waste floating “as far as the eye could see,” in the middle of the ocean.
He also said that he believed that all the plastic ever made is still around today, breaking into smaller and smaller pieces, where it is found in the bellies of some of the ocean’s deepest water fish.
One note of encouragement in all this is that city of San Diego is considering outlawing plastic bags, something that will force all of us to use recyclable bags when shopping.
Another must for all of us is to avoid overpackaging, where Styrofoam and plastic wrappers choke the purchased item, only be discarded, sent to a landfill and, in many cases blown out to sea where sea life are put into danger.
One of the worst offenders are balloons, which children love to watch floating out into the air, not realizing they go to sea, after cutting the strings.
I have retrieved deflated balloons from local car dealers, a grocery store and several realtors who use these cheap colorful weapons to advertise.
Next time I untangle your mess from the kelp; I will send you the mess along with a janitorial bill.
Wake up. There are more important things than your dwindling profits!
The worst, however, are those Mylar graduation disasters that find their way out into the ocean and can choke seagoing mammals like whales.
It seems that it would be pretty simple to pass a law requiring all balloons to be made of food-based items that dissolve upon contact with saltwater.
I have been assured that such a technology does exist.
Another law worth passing would be to outlaw those noisy, polluting and generally useless leaf blowers that, at best, send the problem into someone else’s yard, and at worst drive it into the world’s largest landfill, the sea.
If you think you can move to a cleaner environment, think again, there is no place in the world safe from the toxics we are producing.
Here is where we must take our stand.
As for our increasingly large sea of plastic, that in some cases outnumbers plankton by weight, six to one, I am told that it cannot be scooped up and sent somewhere else. We have to live with it.
Last weekend I walked up the stairs into the Cardiff Campground to see lines of people toasting the sunset with those plastic red, nonrecyclable cups.
Those holding them shouted and cheered as the sun fell, but I could not join them in their celebration of further degradation of the ocean. Quietly slipping past without making eye contact, I located a more enlightened tribe at the corner Patagonia store, which boldly proclaimed its war on plastic.
As conscious as I try to be, I am looking at all the plastic items on my desk: A camera, a cell phone, a landline, cords, power strips, two pairs of sunglasses, an old rolodex, a wall calendar, a stack of DVDs, a carpet, 12 skateboard wheels, a floor cover, vertical blinds. In the backyard is a set of plastic chairs and a plastic watering can.
A guy up the street just installed a plastic fence to guard his world of plastic.
Eventually, each piece named will crumble and find its way into a world that will not digest it.
I suggest taking your own inventory, and working to eliminate plastic from your world.
It may be harder than you think, but the alternative is simply unthinkable.