Ali Eppy, a citizen conservationist,
lives along the beautiful Central Coast of California. We became instant friends at the first handshake nearly 20 years ago while working with Lyn Kelly at Grow Training Institute. Ali is a trash-pickin’ hero. No doubt she has saved countless animals from suffocation or starvation simply by picking plastic rubbish off the beach. This is why I’m featuring Ali today. She cares enough to take the time to take some action. Imagine if every person took action. We could then all enjoy our time on the beach without any worries about the marine animals who are ingesting plastic trash. Better yet, imagine if humans decided in sync to stop using plastic. Or or or imagine if ocean vessels stopped using the ocean for a garbage dump. Here’s a yell-out to the cruise line Carnival (subsidiary of Princess Cruise Lines) that was recently busted for their unconscionable plastic assaults on our precious seas. STOP destroying our oceans with your garbage!
There was a time that even our own US Navy dumped up to 500 tons of plastic annually. One story tells of a brave sailor, a surfer, back in the early 90s who went AWOL from his ship in protest. Since the mid-1990’s the Navy has put systems in place that abide by strict environmental policies (thanks to You Know Who for sharing that link).
We all play a role in this issue, because reports show 80% of the microplastics in the ocean come from land-based sources. Simply using single-use plastics is a problem (say that 10 times fast). I, too, have been a contributor to this problem. I’m not above it as I once partook in drinking from plastic bottles and put all my groceries in plastic, etc etc etc. For 15 years, I’ve been using the same Klean Kanteen for drinking water and have saved a lot of $$$.
We think by putting bottles in the recycling bin they magically vaporize into a pristine rainbow-drenched utopia. This is far from the truth. According to an article in the Guardian, a major contributor to marine debris is…wait for it… not cruise lines, not old Navy mismanagement, but trash. Every day ordinary trash. More than 90% of plastic waste is NOT recycled. It’s in landfills degrading, breaking into smaller and smaller particles, teensy tiny bits. Those bits get incorporated into rain droplets. The rain droplets wash down into waterways and groundwater sources. Microplastics are no longer just a problem in the ocean. Besides rainwater, plastic fibers are also being found in water, soil, and the air.
Here’s the #FunnyNotFunny Reality
Some folks drink out of plastic bottles because they think their tap water is bad and bottled water is good, yet the very act of using plastic bottles is contributing to the demise of water sources (see above paragraph). There may be more plastic particles in your bottled spring water than in your tap water. And there is BPA in your bottled water, and BPA could cause cancer and other dead-serious illnesses like fetal brain development, endocrine disruption leading to all kinds of reproductive issues, asthma and even heart disease.
Here’s an informative infographic (that’s redundant, I know) detailing how long it takes to break down various plastics.
Hint: Hundreds of years for most. Not sure how Alan’s Factory Outlet came about creating this marvelous graphic, but well done, Alan! Here’s a link to the full post that shares an intriguing story about a yogurt cup that took a 40-year sea journey to a Canadian beach.
So, what about Ali?
She delivered a sensational 2-minute radio spot called Talkin’ Trash on KSQD’s First Person Singular. It’s all very Ali-like, articulate, positive, and engaging. Take 2 minutes to hear my friend share her wisdom. Thank you, Ali.
Five Quick and Easy Things You Can Do Right Now
Our cumulative inaction has caused a problem, and our cumulative action could lead to a solution.
1. Most litter will find its way to the nearest waterway and eventually end up in the ocean, so please commit to picking some of it up. It’s so easy even a toddler can do it! While we’re on the topic, teaching your kids about caring for the earth could help them become lifelong stewards of the planet. My dad did that with me and look at me now! But how many people do you actually see taking the few seconds of time to pick up trash? I’ve witnessed parents and children comb beaches for seashells with plastic trash in their vicinity. They take the shells but leave the plastic. I heart Italy, but it has a long way to go when it comes to litter 😞 and plastic debris around the beach is out of hand. We could use some help picking it up. In the five months we’ve been here, I’ve only seen one other person doing the same. Double sad face emoji.
THEN all you have to do is get a reusable water bottle like this and fill it from the Brita instead of using a plastic bottle and waiting 450 – 1000 years for it to degrade.
These products are associated with my amazon link, and I do get 4% from the sales without any additional costs to you. Thank you for supporting this blog.
Environmental Working Group has a fascinating database that highlights which contaminants are in your tap water. Click here. When you click on the list of contaminants, you then have an option of choosing which water filters will remove them. Easy peasy!
3. If you like cruisin’ and want to enjoy the very ocean that some cruise lines (ah-hem Carnival) exploit with pollution, make sure your cruise line has a strong environmental ethic. The more people that take the time to ask, the more the market will shift in favor of doing right by our seas.
4. As silly and small as they seem, straws and toothbrushes are substantial contributors to ocean pollution. I pick up straws on or near the beach almost every day. But check out these super cool reusable straws!
And I ❤️🦷❤️ my bamboo toothbrushes. I’ve been using this one for almost three years. Noooooo….not the exact same toothbrush. Ew.
5. Reuse is the new recycle. Reuse whenever and however you can. Reusable bags for groceries are a given now, right? But what about reusable produce bags? How many readers have these? Let’s get real here. Show of hands. Who licks their fingers before opening up the plastic produce bags? Think of all the people who, after licking their fingers (so they can open the bag), touch the produce. Maybe that only bothers germaphobes –me.
No spit required for these reusable produce bags!
Share in the comments any changes you’re making to reduce your plastic consumption. We can all learn from one another.
In an upcoming post, I’ll share some travel tips about how to save space and the earth at the same time. Meanwhile, I’ve been getting into animation and digital art, so here are two recent projects: The video is called Sea Plastic and the image for now, is called Plastic Consumption, but I am accepting suggestions.
Thanks for reading. A big thanks to Ali and her ocean advocacy.