A Plastic Legacy

30 November 2017 | Posted in Marine
A Plastic Legacy
Plastic collected at Seven Sisters © Mike Murphy

By Sarah Ward

Living Seas Officer

It’s natural to feel that you’d like to be remembered after you’re gone. Sadly, it seems that the legacy that all of us are going to be leaving behind is a huge pile of plastic waste.

Plastic is hugely versatile and durable, which makes it great for all manner of applications. These qualities of plastic however, make it a huge problem for the environment – in particular for the sea where sadly a lot of it ends up. Plastics don’t biodegrade: they simply break down into smaller and smaller pieces, making it more and more difficult to see. Some plastics also have chemical additives which can leach out of them into the natural environment.

Unfortunately, it is hard to get away from the disposable culture in which we now live – plastic is everywhere! The sad truth of it is that it is more costly and time-consuming to live a life free of single-use plastic so it’s understandable that individuals and businesses opt for the cheaper and easier option. It makes economic sense, right?

With a short-term perspective, you’d be correct in saying yes, but we need to think long-term. A research paper worked out what the monetary value of our natural environment is; they estimated that services provided by coral reefs alone are worth $353,249 per hectare per year – imagine the cost of replicating all those services. We also get around 70% of that lovely oxygen we take for granted from marine plants in the ocean – it’s hard to imagine what the world would be like if that was taken away. Even if you don’t realise it, ocean health affects us all – every last one of us!

Luckily there are steps being taken to try and cull the amount of plastic being consumed: we now have a charge for plastic bags and are awaiting a ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetics. A tax on some single-use plastics has also been discussed in the Government's Autumn budget.

There’s a lot more that we as individuals can do to help – and lots of small acts can amount to make a big difference. For more information about reducing your plastic consumption please click here. Many individuals and local groups make effort to clean up their local beaches and waterways – a #2minutebeachclean is a great way to get involved in this.

This winter, we’re showing our love for our coasts by putting on some local beach cleans across Sussex which we’d love for you to get involved with. Not only will we be clearing up the beaches, we’ll also be sorting the refuse to ensure as much as possible is put into recycling schemes.

Comments

  • barbara hunsinger:

    30 Nov 2017 13:40:11

    Hi I would like to join. Barbara

  • JoeMcGuinness:

    30 Nov 2017 15:32:51

    Why are the Govt. taxing the consumer who has no control of the plastic used to contain their food or drink? Why are they not making the firms who supply these products use re-cyclable or bio degradab

  • ABIGAIL:

    30 Nov 2017 18:08:29

    I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO KNOW WHO IS DUMPING ALL THIS PLASTIC IN THE SEA? LIKE ALL MY NEIGHBOURS, I COLLECT ALL HOUSEHOLD PLASTIC WASTE IN MY RECYCLING BIN ALONG WITH OTHER PLASTIC LITTER FROM OUR ROAD, RECREATION GROUND ETC. WEALDEN DC COLLECT THIS FORTNIGHTLY. SO WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THIS HIDEOUS POLLUTION?

  • Sue:

    30 Nov 2017 20:03:38

    Just take a look at Brighton beach on a weekend. People just leave their rubbish behind. 20 years ago when we used to go there for an evening out, everyone put their rubbish in bins, attitudes have changed unfortunately.

  • Vicky:

    30 Nov 2017 21:22:55

    So pleased to see youve orhanised some clean ups. I regular litterpick at rye harbour, whilst walking my dog. I gey so many strange looks and have even had people make derogatory comments- hopefully this will encourage more folk to do their bit

  • Sarah Matthews:

    30 Nov 2017 21:53:12

    I completely agree with Joe. Consumers shouldn’t be taxed for packaging as they often have no choice if the buy sandwiches. The onus should be on the manufacturer/supplier & they should be taxed on all non-biodegradable packaging and identified as environmentally unfriendly #nameandshame

  • Mandy Pratley:

    01 Dec 2017 09:03:01

    The Earth is a one in a universe chance of life as we know it. It is a carbon based planet mostly covered in water. The elements that combine to give us life on the surface of this incredible orb, are being decimated globally! We all know it, we can’t deny what human greed is doing. When you think politicians can agree to try and convince us that animals are not sentient, for the sake of continued intense farming, what do we have to look forward to? Look at our past…. I get really emotional when I look around me.. really look around me. Such a beautiful, organic, magical place being plundered for profit. I just hope that the words of Jonathan Porrit years and years ago (when he was head of the WWF) don’t come to fruition… that whatever we do now to reverse our destruction will be too little, too late. The only way to stop plastic from being in the sea, is to stop making plastic goods! Only when the oil runs out!!!! Will that be too little, too late?

  • Brian Cooper:

    01 Dec 2017 09:28:35

    Guys, please check with other beach cleaning teams – Ovingdean is being cleaned tomorrow by The Big Beach Clean and by Deans Beach Cleaning on Sunday! There is a great need to co-ordinate these activities!

  • 01 Dec 2017 09:41:23

    Hi Brian, thank you for your comment.

    All the dates have been checked with local councils and other groups who coordinate beach cleans locally to ensure we’re not repeating efforts.

    There’ll always be litter to pick up on the beach even if it’s only been cleaned a day or so previously – this is because a large proportion of litter is deposited on the beach by the tide, not by people directly dropping it on the beach. Two high tides a day give plenty of litter (sadly)!

  • Michelle Sidney:

    01 Dec 2017 20:32:32

    This is great, but my local one is on a weekday and I work full time :( Shame as this alienates a number of people.

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