An Olympic sailing team practicing for the 2016 Olympics in the waters off Rio de Janeiro where the event will be held crashed into a couch –yes, a floating couch and more. The area is so polluted with plastic bags, plastic bottles, and myriad “jetsam and flotsam” (debris) that a couch will actually be buoyed up by the mess.
Not only might the collision have harmed the boat, it might have caused a “man overboard” spill into Brazil’s open air raw sewage collection place: Guanabara Bay.
Several Olympic sports federations have voiced concerns that Rio’s polluted waters could prove harmful to athletes’ health.
Exposure to fecal matter can cause Hepatitis A, dysentery, cholera other diseases.
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There’s a spot in the Pacific Ocean so densely polluted with plastic bottles and plastic bags you could practically walk across it … and it’s so large that, if you did walk across it, you’d want to pack some water for your trip.
Only don’t pack your traveling water in cheap disposable plastic bottles. Because you’re going to get sick of seeing those –they’ll be laying at your feet from horizon to horizon.
If you happen to find a floating couch you could declare it to be your throne, and declare yourself king of all that you survey: a floating mass of junk bigger than your craziest dreams
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The good news is that groups such as Plastic Bank are “harvesting waste plastic to reduce poverty”. The material they gather up even has a special name: “social plastic” (plastic that has been harvested by the poor/removed from the oceans, beaches or waterways).
Reminds me a little of the movie WaterWorld –Kevin Costner’s character collecting dirt from the bottom of the sea then selling it at a exorbitant cost to a water based world desperate for soil.
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I remember standing at a landfill once –gazing across the sweeping vista of trash in nearly all its possible varieties– thinking: “one day people will be out here …digging up the paper …digging up the plastic …the metal cans. Because such limited supply against such high demand there’s profit in it.”
That’s the trick to going green: to be accepted by the masses it has to make sense monetarily in addition having being socio-environmentally self-conscience.
It appears we’re getting there now. In some areas. At least.
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The glass-is-half-full person would say we’re in good shape with all this reusable stuff stashed away in landfills (and in gullies and in ponds and rivers and oceans).
But I can’t stop thinking how close to the edge we let things go — over and over again — before correcting our mistakes.
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We The People (and I mean that in a global sense, not USA only), each of us and altogether, need to fully realize the true condition of our oceans and lakes:
The pollution –including plastic and sewage, but also chemicals and medications
The increasing demand paired with limited supply
The severe impact We The People are having on fishes, plants and animals of the water (and the complicated ways impacting one impacts others and, ultimately, impacts ourselves).
Each of us needs to more aware of the large problems …and of the potentially small ways to address them.
- If every one of us quit buying water and other beverages in disposable bottles we’d make a difference starting now.
- Bringing back deposits (like we once had on Coke bottles) on plastic, metal and glass containers including bottles, tubs and jars would result in less of this material be wasted (and polluting) our waters and land.
- Simply being more aware of the issues –by proactively seeking knowledge—will help. And you can begin today. Starting with a visit to Plastic Bank’s website. (Seek out others as well.)
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There’s an opportunity here for the entrepreneur in all of us. The thinkers and dreamers that reach out further than others to live life at its fullest. The “zest for living” Go Native types that go where others don’t or won’t in mastering the universe around them.
It’s all about vision. And discipline. And drive.
At home. And at work.
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— Tim Bryant
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill