Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. Chief Seattle
This post is meant to be an environmental lesson. I have been an environmentalist all my life, and an environmental education teacher for decades. It has been stormy recently, and the variety of trash on the beach today was astounding. I felt compelled to write about it. This is a bottle of “MoLiHua Cha – Jasmine Flower Tea” from mainland China. The bottle was manufactured sometime late last year, drank and discarded. The empty bottle then sailed across the ocean in several months. My wife shared this photo with her friends back in China. They were amazed how interconnected we all are even at seemingly immense geographic distances. China is at least 8,000 kilometers away. This is just one example of how our pollution problems are global. Individuals are the ones who can make a difference today – right now.
This is a can of “Georgia European Flavored Coffee” from Japan. The can had an expiration date of May 2020, so it was probably discarded sometime in late 2019. The back of the can advertised the Coca-Cola company’s support for the upcoming 2020 Olympics. This can practically sprinted across the ocean. Many people imagine that objects in the ocean whirl and twirl about for months and years before they sink or wash up on a distant shore. It is around 7000 kilometers from the nearest point in Japan to the beach near my home. Crossing that distance seems so daunting, but this little metal boat made it with barely a scratch on it.
Glass bottles also travel far and wide. But there is no romantic mystery involved in this ocean transit. This glass bottle is from Taiwan. It once held “Cold Plum” drink. SuanMeiTang sour plum drink is a traditional Chinese beverage. When I lived in China it was a very refreshing to enjoy a cold plum drink. It was however not very refreshing to see this bottle wash up on the shore from about 9,800 kilometers away. The plum flower emblem on the bottle is the national flower of Taiwan.
Drink bottles are designed to hold liquids without leaking. So they easily become functional mini-watercrafts. This plastic bottle once contained a beverage sold in Hong Kong. The traditional Chinese characters are used in both Hong Kong and Taiwan, but this beverage is most likely from Hong Kong. Even though some bottles have their tops removed, they still managed to navigate the Pacific currents, many with the labels mostly intact. Did this come from a thoughtless person or was it washed into the ocean? Either way its presence on the beach is proof that waste management is critical. Hong Kong is 10,000 kilometers from here.
Today I removed around ten kilograms of trash from the beach. I recycled what I could and disposed of the rest. We can all do this. I hope this little lesson has shown you that what we do the web (Earth) we do to ourselves. All of us are interconnected around the world. Let’s clean it up today so that tomorrow we can all have a brighter future.