Today, 4/22/15, is a really special day. On Earth Day we pay homage to our home and planet. It is a day for recognizing and continuing our behavioral practice in protecting our environment. However, we have not really been on our best behavior with dealing with the environment, nor have we changed our brutal methods in how we obtain resources from our environment. Additionally, we are not the best at effectively managing and disposing our waste. In turn this waste, mainly plastics, are being transported by rivers, streams, and drainage sewers to our oceans. According to oceanographic research and personal accounts of seafaring individuals, there appears to be what is called, “garbage patches” in our oceans. Journalistic reports of “garbage patches” surfaced around 2007, but were not given much attention, and were rather looked upon as myth. Analogically speaking, the state of Texas was considered to be the size of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” in the North Pacific Gyre.
As many years has past since the discovery of these so called, “garbage patches”, the myth soon turned into a horrible fact. “In 2010, eight million tons of plastic trash ended up in the ocean from coastal countries—far more than the total that has been measured floating on the surface in the ocean’s “garbage patches” (Laura Parker, National Geographic 2015). It is baffling to hear that this statistic is not accounting for the trash on the surface, this is insane. Many other statistics since 2010 have been released about the percentage of waste in our oceans.
Now lets just take a second to think about all this. We are revolving around an ecological circle, where everything has an effect. If we are dumping waste into the ocean, and this waste is also dissolving into smaller micro-sized particles, who do you think is first consuming that? A fish does not just have to come across a piece of plastic and directly consume it. A fish can simply eat smaller organisms or planktons that could have been potentially feeding on these dissolved toxic micro-sized particles, considering the accumulating percentage of waste in the ocean. Lastly, the fish is consumed by us with all of the toxic biological/chemical matter it ingested . We are eating and taking in toxic and poison. Is that ok with you?
Zak Noyle’s famous picture of the “Indo Trash Barrel”, should be a constant reminder to us as surfers. Do you really want to be surfing in trash? Should you have to feel worried about getting sick from entering our oceans? It sucks to see beaches closing down due to dirty water conditions. If we don’t take the proper precautions and steps to a better methodology in handling our waste and where we dispose of it, we will be surfing in “trash barrels” (not just in Indo or Bali), or not surfing at all due to unsanitary and harmful water conditions.
Earth Day goes beyond just saying, “Go Green”, or “I pledge to recycle”. Earth Day is about turning words and thoughts into action. Informing, educating, and making others aware of these environmental concerns are of the utmost importance. Who is going to go before Congress and Committee panels to reinforce or redirect funding towards the environment? It is up to us to take the initiative to uphold the protection of our environment.
For more information on the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” and Ocean Pollution. Check out the Vice News Documentary three part series called, “An Ocean Full of Plastic”. It is free on Youtube. Another cool documentary to check out is one that is actually sponsored by the Surfrider Foundation called, “Plastic Paradise”, which describes Angela Sun’s personal journey to the island Midway Atoll, where she also comes across the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.