What YOU Can Do:
- We have the three “R’s”: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Notice that recycle is the third, not the first in the order. We should add one called “Refuse” at the beginning because we should really refuse using disposable plastics. When we do this, the companies will start changing their packaging.
- Avoid the use of straws, you will only use it for some minutes and then it will be part of our environment forever. Get a bottle of glass to carry and drink water. Get fabric bags instead of using plastic bags. When buying things in the supermarket choose those that are packed with eco-friendly materials like carton or glass.
–1Frame4Nature is a collection of images and stories from around the globe of your personal connection to nature. However small, when combined with the actions of others, your individual actions can impact real and tangible outcomes for the preservation of our planet. Submit your story now!
iLCP Emerging League Photographer Sergio Izquierdo‘s 1Frame4Nature: What We Do on Land Echos in Our Oceans
Plastic pollution is one of the topics I’ve been working on in the last few years. This is an issue that needs a dramatic change as soon as possible. Sometimes people come up to me and tell me that it’s a lost fight, but these kinds of wars have been won before. You can see for example how the toy industry was forced to use unleaded paint only (imagine how many toys China makes each day), and at the beginning you would think that you couldn’t go against a big monster like the toy industry. However, that battle was won and so can the one against plastics harming the environment and wildlife.
It’s easy to point a finger at the plastic industry, the markets or our governments, but the challenge is to really stand against it and make a difference—to find solutions. I had the privilege to go on two expeditions to the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), and an important part of these expeditions was to document the problems, the affected wildlife and solutions that are already being achieved. The mission was to get visual storytelling material that can help Think Beyond Plastic (an NGO that looks forward for solutions on plastic pollution issues and works in the MAR) to transmit their message to local communities, local governments and local businesses to achieve more goals in the fight against the plastic pollution issue.
In my point of view, it is the plastic industry that promotes the myth of recycling plastic. When actually, the quantity of recycled plastic is small compared to the widespread use and mass production of virgin, or newly-manufactured, plastic worldwide. Promoting recycling plastic is a way of convincing us that we are doing something right. We find false comfort in thinking it’s the perfect solution when it’s really not; it only motivates us to continue the use of disposable plastics because we think that it’ll be “recycled”.
You cannot recycle a plastic bottle and make it a new bottle. When producing drinking plastic bottles, only a small portion of recycled plastic can be used. And if you recycle any plastic, it will be downcycled on to a product of a lower quality. Most likely it will end sooner or later in the same place, as litter or in a landfill, like this photo in Roatan (Honduras) below, a very touristic place in the Caribbean, where the only way to get drinkable water is by buying bottled water. Where do you think that this water bottle goes after it is used? Where does all the disposable plastic go? When we throw “away” plastics, do we analyze where is that “away” place? Most of the disposable plastic from the island ends up in this dumpsite, where a very little part is recycled, but the rest stays there and is burned or floats into the ocean.
Plastic is everywhere. I’ve been documenting expeditions measuring microplastics in the oceans with 5Gyres, and it has been shocking to find microplastics in every sample we have taken. It doesn’t matter if you take a sample near Bermuda, in the Arctic Circle or in the middle of the ocean. There is always plastic.
So each time we are consuming disposable plastics a lot of them will end up in nature sooner or later, and a lot of it will end up in our oceans. Many things we do like throwing “away” our trash will echo in our oceans, and plastic pollution is something that is echoing in a large scale right now. It’s never too late to start a change in our daily life, and in this case, it’s needed as soon as possible. There is always hope!
This article is brought to you by the 1Frame4Nature Campaign. Share a picture and story on Instagram with the hashtag #1Frame4Nature, of your personal connection to nature and tell us what action you’ve taken on behalf of our planet.