On Sunday 22nd April, the Prodivers team and guests of Hurawalhi joined the largest civic-focused day of action in the world – Earth Day! The campaign for Earth Day 2018 was ‘End Plastic Pollution’, a movement dedicated to providing information and inspiration needed to fundamentally change human attitude and behaviour towards plastics.
Plastics are a substance the earth cannot digest. The very qualities that made plastics such an attractive material initially; durable, flexible, versatile and inexpensive, have ultimately generated rubbish with staying power – a huge environmental issue. Our voracious appetite for plastic goods, coupled with our tendency to discard, litter and thus pollute, has led to an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every year. Plastics not only threaten our wildlife through entanglement, ingestion and habitat disruption, but their ability to absorb chemicals and accumulate in the human food chain has also led to plastics negatively affecting human health.
So, instead of diving with sharks or snorkelling with manta rays, the 48th Earth Day saw Hurawalhi staff and guests dive and snorkel for debris instead! They were let loose to clean up as much plastic and rubbish they could find off a nearby reef. Whilst they may have made only the tiniest dent in removing some of the debris currently be in our oceans, every action counts. There are so many simple ways to reduce plastic consumption in our day-to-day lives, here are some of the tips our Marine Biologist, Kirsty, shared with all of our volunteers this Earth Day:
1. Refrain from using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable one.
2. Forget the plastic bag. Purchase a reusable produce bag and be sure to wash them often.
3. Give up gum. Chewing gum is made of a synthetic rubber, i.e. plastic.
4. Ditch bottles for boxes. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.
5. Leave the single-use plastic bottles on the shelf. Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages, even when ordering from a to-go shop.
6. Don’t buy foods in plastic containers e.g. berries, tomatoes etc. Ask your local grocer to take your plastic containers back.
7. Disregard the disposable nappy. Use cloth nappies to reduce your baby’s carbon footprint and save money.
8. Stop purchasing single serving products. Buy bulk items instead and pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags.
9. Refuse to buy disposable razors and toothbrushes. Purchase replaceable blades instead.
Abstain from buying frozen foods. Even though those that appear to be packaged in cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic, plus you’ll be eating fewer processed foods.
A great quote from Marine Biologist, Sylvia Earle, sums up perfectly the importance of looking after the ocean: ‘No water, no life. No blue, no green’
PADI’s guest blogger Kirsty introduces herself:
Growing up in Mallorca, surrounded by the riches of the Mediterranean Sea, Kirsty’s ambition to pursue a career in marine biology was ignited from a young age. Kirsty completed both her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Newcastle University in England. During her studies she had the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Maldives. It is not surprising then that her research interests to date have focused on tropical reef ecology. More specifically, Kirsty is interested in studying the movement patterns and habitat use of sharks and rays. Kirsty is currently part of the Maldivian Manta Trust research team, collecting data around the country’s manta population, its movements, and how the environment and tourism / human interactions affect them.