especially if it's made of plastic beacause, for me, this weekend has been a real eye opener. For those of you who don't know me well, I've always been a bit of an environmentalist, my nickname amongst hubbies pals is 'Save the Whale', but I'm getting increasingly frustrated with both myself and the world I live in, for not being as plastic free as I would like. I could go on all day about it, but I won't, because I want to tell you about my sunday morning which involved taking part in the Nairn Beach and Riverside Clean Up organised by Nairn River Enterprise and Green Hive, a charitable organisation run by good honest and caring volunteers who should be applauded.
And it was actually a lot of fun, as after being warmly welcomed, my hubby and I and two pals headed out from the Nairn Sailing Club with our gloves and plastic bags and at the beginning it felt more like an Easter Egg hunt than a litter pick. The competitive excitement at finding our first pieces of rubbish and taking the mick out of each other for missing bits, soon gave way to disgust and then sadness at what the human race could so carelessly and selfishly leave behind. A giggle over an empty bottle of Buckfast and an old sweatshirt, was soon forgotten as we picked up plastic bottles, coffee cups, barbecue implements , all whilst trying to avoid such a large amount of dog po
o that I was actually shocked. Who lets their dog mess on coastal footpaths where children are playing? Who does that? We didn't, of course, pick up the poo but all in all, we picked up a whole variety of other peoples stuff. To be fair, the bit of beach we had chosen to clean, conveniently located close to James's Cafe, at first sight didn't appear to be that ba. Thankfully volunteers do go out regularly. But as I trained my eyes to look for the smaller stuff, my heart felt a lot heavier.
For it's the small stuff that can cause so much damage to our ocean wildlife, the small stuff is probably the most lethal and it's the small stuff that I ended up concentrating on, filling my bin bag instead of letting it creep down the throat of some poor unsuspecting marine creature. As expected, the closer we came to eateries, the worse the problem became, but unless you were looking for it, it would go unnoticed. The little plastic clip that keeps a Fruit Shoot lid intact, is very difficult to see when discarded on the floor and the little white lollipop sticks and plastic sweet wrappers are ten a penny if you look hard enough amongst the fag ends. Then there's the discarded birthday balloon, a joy for a day or sometimes only ten minutes, but a nightmare when it hits the ocean. The plastic stick, the plastic ribbon and the empty balloon itself, all pose a threat to marine life. I was fortunate enough to go on a whale watching trip in Monteray last year and helium ballons were the scourge of the waters. The whale watching boats regularly fish them out of the ocean to precvent them from being mistaken for jelly fish. Is it worth it? I think not. The shortage of Helium is another story, but I wont go there today.
And so it was, that we all returned to base for soup, sandwiches and cake and while we didn't think we'd individually collected that much, when the bags were added together, I felt a little sad for our beautiful planet and for our children who will have to deal with this ever increasing mess. Plastic is such an inherent part of our lives now and, of course, it does have a hugely important role to play in our modern life but when you do start to notice the small stuff, it is seriously disturbing. I don't, of course, know what the answer is, I wish I did but all I can ask, is that maybe, if you're reading this, you'll start to take notice of the small stuff and if we all try just a little bit harder to be better guardians of our beautiful Earth, we might have a chance to save it for future generations.
Green Hive and others like them, are doing a fantastic job, so if you're feeling like you'd like to get involved, check out your local groups. I only gave two hours of my time on a Sunday morning, it really wasnt much but we kept a whole load of stuff out of our river and oceans. I'll definitely do it again and I'll continue to take my bag to my own favourite beach and pick up other peoples rubbish. I'm also going to try even harder to cut down on my own plastic, despite it being increasingly difficult to shop without buying it, I'm sure it can be done.
As David Attenborough said so elequently,
“We are at a unique stage in our history… “Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about it… Surely we have a responsibility to care for our blue planet. The future of humanity, and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us.”
I'll leave it at that.
Sam Derbyshire is author of best selling What Goes On Tour, Text Me no Lies and soon to be released Trust Me, I'm a Personal Trainer.