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Plastic

03 October 2023
Jane Paulson
We are still on Crete, back in the marina at Porto Gouves sitting out more BIG seas. The marina, whilst very clean and well maintained and with water and electricity , is very badly designed and in a big blow the swell that comes in is absolutely horrendous. Stiletto is bouncing around all over the place and the result is that I feel very nauseous. Red flags are flying on the beaches and spray is cascading over the breakwater that surrounds us covering us and Stiletto in salt spray. Ring any bells? Kolimvari !!! But much worse.
So I thought I would share my thoughts and some interesting facts about my hatred of plasic.
Please do look at the link st the end of this post.

PLASTIC - NOT SO FANTASTIC.
Sea Pollution - we are all guilty.

I know, I know...... environmental issues such as global warming, climate change et al is big news. And quite rightly so but I imagine, for an awful lot of people it is not high on their agenda when they are struggling to pay the mortgage, utility bills, feed and clothe themselves and their children. But.......... regardless, we do all have a responsibility to look after our environment. There should be no difference to looking after the 4 walls that surround you and the roof over your head. But actually, there is a difference. As we are all enjoying our walls and roofs we are, systematically destroying our surroundings and what we will leave behind for our children and their children to deal with doesn't bear thinking about.

Andreas and I, over the past 7 years of sailing Atlantic and Mediterranean waters have been horrified at the detritus that man produces and discards without any thought of the repercussions.
What would you think, if you were sailing a couple of miles off shore, in beautiful blue water, soaking up the sunshine, dolphins playing and a used panty liner drifted past ? Or a used mask ? Or a pallet, or a plastic bag, or a huge lump of polystyrene or even a used condom? Believe me, we have seen it all- and some ! The whole plastic issue is very, very close to my heart.

The following article comes from National Geographic. I would urge you to read it, please :-

" " " Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues, as rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products overwhelms the world's ability to deal with them. Plastic pollution is most visible in developing Asian and African nations, where garbage collection systems are often inefficient or nonexistent. But the developed world, especially in countries with low recycling rates, also has trouble properly collecting discarded plastics. Plastic trash has become so ubiquitous it has prompted efforts to write a global treaty negotiated by the United Nations.

How did this happen?
Plastics made from fossil fuels are just over a century old. Production and development of thousands of new plastic products accelerated after World War II, so transforming the modern age that life without plastics would be unrecognizable today. Plastics revolutionized medicine with life-saving devices, made space travel possible, lightened cars and jets--saving fuel and pollution--and saved lives with helmets, incubators, and equipment for clean drinking water.

The conveniences plastics offer, however, led to a throw-away culture that reveals the material's dark side: today, single-use plastics account for 40 percent of the plastic produced every year. Many of these products, such as plastic bags and food wrappers, have a lifespan of mere minutes to hours, yet they may persist in the environment for hundreds of years.

Plastics by the numbers
Some key facts:
• Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years.
• Production increased exponentially, from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015. Production is expected to double by 2050.
• Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That's the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world.
• Plastics often contain additives making them stronger, more flexible, and durable. But many of these additives can extend the life of products if they become litter, with some estimates ranging to at least 400 years to break down.

How plastics move around the world
Most of the plastic trash in the oceans, Earth's last sink, flows from land. Trash is also carried to sea by major rivers, which act as conveyor belts, picking up more and more trash as they move downstream. Once at sea, much of the plastic trash remains in coastal waters. But once caught up in ocean currents, it can be transported around the world.
On Henderson Island, an uninhabited atoll in the Pitcairn Group isolated halfway between Chile and New Zealand, scientists found plastic items from Russia, the United States, Europe, South America, Japan, and China. They were carried to the South Pacific by the Microplastics

Once at sea, sunlight, wind, and wave action break down plastic waste into small particles, often less than one-fifth of an inch across. These so-called microplastics are spread throughout the water column and have been found in every corner of the globe, from Mount Everest, the highest peak, to the Mariana Trench, the deepest trough.

Microplastics are breaking down further into smaller and smaller pieces. Plastic microfibers, meanwhile, have been found in municipal drinking water systems and drifting through the air.

Harm to wildlife
Millions of animals are killed by plastics every year, from birds to fish to other marine organisms. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by plastics. Nearly every species of seabird eats plastics.

Most of the deaths to animals are caused by entanglement or starvation. Seals, whales, turtles, and other animals are strangled by abandoned fishing gear or discarded six-pack rings.
Microplastics have been found in more than 100 aquatic species, including fish, shrimp, and mussels destined for our dinner plates. In many cases, these tiny bits pass through the digestive system and are expelled without consequence. But plastics have also been found to have blocked digestive tracts or pierced organs, causing death. Stomachs so packed with plastics reduce the urge to eat, causing starvation.

Plastics have been consumed by land-based animals, including elephants, hyenas, zebras, tigers, camels, cattle, and other large mammals, in some cases causing death.

Tests have also confirmed liver and cell damage and disruptions to reproductive systems, prompting some species, such as oysters, to produce fewer eggs. New research shows that larval fish are eating nanofibers in the first days of life, raising new questions about the effects of plastics on fish.

Stemming the plastic tide
Once in the ocean, it is difficult--if not impossible--to retrieve plastic waste. Mechanical systems, such as Mr. Trash Wheel, a litter interceptor in Maryland's Baltimore Harbor, can be effective at picking up large pieces of plastic, such as foam cups and food containers, from inland waters. But once plastics break down into microplastics and drift throughout the water column in the open ocean, they are virtually impossible to recover.

The solution is to prevent plastic waste from entering rivers and seas in the first place, many scientists and conservationists--including the National Geographic Society--say. This could be accomplished with improved waste management systems and recycling, better product design that takes into account the short life of disposable packaging, and reduction in manufacturing of unnecessary single-use plastics. """

It's a powerful article. And the question I have is what can we do ?
The answer I have is that initially it all seems so big, and consequently, as an individual I can't achieve anything. But actually I can. It may be small steps but I am sure that we can start to make a difference. Frankly, we HAVE to.

I have seen horrendous sea pollution here in Greece. I have seen beautiful beaches littered with plastic bottle caps, bottles, plastic bags, even spent gun cartridges, cigarette butts - the list goes on. All washed up in a storm, just sitting there on the water line waiting for the next storm to claim them and wash them back out to sea.

I absolutely hate having to buy bottled water that comes in a 1.5 litre plastic bottle - as does milk and any sort of soft drink but there is no alternative.
I absolutely hate buying meat from a supermarket that comes in a plastic tray, lined with what I call a panty liner and then wrapped in plastic cling film.
Why, in the UK do vegetables such as cucumbers, swede, cabbage etc need to be wrapped in cling film?
They don't here in Greece, and the majority of butcher shops and meat counters in supermarkets wrap meat and cheese products in waxed paper. The French do the same. No trays, pantyliners or cling film.
I have , on numerous occasions, taken a few plastic boxes with me to the supermarket and after what I required - meat and chicken and cheese - was weighed, it was placed directly into the box, the price label attached and it will then go directly into my fridge and I don't have to fill my bin with trays and plastic wrap.
I have seen many Greeks making a point by discarding wrapping at the check out - the cardboard box containing a bag of cereals for example. I recall the WI in the UK doing something similar some years ago. Good for them but it didn't last long as most people thought of the WI as jam making, tree hugging ageing hippies. A big mistake.
In Morrison's in Gosport, at a check out, there is a container where you can place ALL forms of wrapping - cardboard, plastic trays, cling film etc. But I saw no signs directing customers to this facility. . It was info that came at check out after I complained about the plastic wrapping. It was info that was not volunteered. And while we think that we are doing our bit, how do we know that we truly are?? How do we know where all this stuff is going? Putting plastic waste into a recycling bin may make you feel good, but do you know where it ends up after you have said goodbye to it????

Morrison and Tesco offered net bags at 15p each (probably more now) when I was home. I bought 6 and all my loose veg goes into them thus eliminating the need for a plastic bag. Before I returned to Greece, I bought another 6 and I use them here. Lemons, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms etc all go into a net bag and at check out there is a big discussion on what a good idea they are.

If we reverted back to glass milk bottles, how much plastic do you think that we would save ? TONS !
We should rue the day that supermarkets took over our milk supply. That was the beginning of the end as far as I am concerned.

If I had my time again, I would, without doubt, be focusing my career on environmental issues. Living this lifestyle, I see a lot that you guys don't . I don't like what I see. I so wish I had the power to change it.
I have found an organisation that is doing incredible work cleaning our oceans so please check out the following: www.theoceancleanup.com
Scroll down to Cleaning The Ocean - read more. Absolutely shocking but thank goodness something IS being done.
There is hope on the horizon but we all still need to do our bit.






Comments
Vessel Name: Stiletto
Vessel Make/Model: Bavaria 33 Cruiser
Hailing Port: Gosport, UK
Crew: Andreas Giles & Jane Paulson
About:
We have been sailing together for 18 years and have owned Stiletto for 16 of them. We have exhausted the Solent and the UK South Coast and all the other usual passages: West Country, France, Channel Islands etc. that are available from our home port of Gosport. [...]