The last three months have
been very busy for the crew at Take 3 with
lots of exciting projects and a great deal of attention coming their way
surrounding co-founder Tim Silverwood’s expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage
Take 3 won last year’s
Taronga Green Grant, awarded to the best green initiative which would inspire
environmental change in the community.
Here is an update from Tim
about his voyage and opportunities for you to be involved in future Take 3
The Great Pacific Garbage
Patch…the mere mention of the place conjures images of a vast, obese,
monolithic ‘beast’ swamping the North Pacific like a wet blanket over a dreary
fire. Sorry to burst your bubble…the ‘floating island’ doesn’t exist. I know
this because I just spent two months examining the impact the accumulation of
discarded plastics is having amongst the network of currents that constitute
the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, otherwise known as the Great Pacific
Garbage Patch. I sailed 5000km from Honolulu to Vancouver with an international
team of researchers and environmentalists to see and document this marvel. The
results? Well, I’d be pleased if it were a ‘floating island’, if it were it
might be feasible for us to get out there and clean it up. But in fact, it’s
much worse than that…
My journey commenced in
Hawaii where I’d arranged to spend two weeks with the co-founders of Beach
Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii. Suzanne and Dean from BEACH have spent
over five years cleaning the beaches of Hawaii, educating the community on the
issue and encouraging people to choose sustainable alternatives to disposable
single use plastics. Together we travelled to a remote corner on the Big Island
where lies Kamilo Beach, toted ‘the world’s dirtiest beach’. Who would ever
have thought the world’s dirtiest beach would be on a remote coast off the
island paradise we know as Hawaii?
The 500m stretch of rocky
coast was absolutely covered with all manner of plastic debris from toilet
seats, toothbrushes, and tennis balls to mountains of rope, piles of crates,
umbrella handles and bottles, bottle caps and bottle necks. At a guess 99.9% of
the items on the shore were clearly not from Hawaii but from countries circling
the North Pacific ring from Asia to North America. The North Pacific Gyre, like
a laborious conveyer belt delivers new trash to Hawaii on each and every tide.
My home and courier for the
journey across the Pacific was be the 72ft Sea
Dragon, a racing yacht built for the 2004 Challenge Round the World Yacht
Race. As we set sail from Honolulu I said goodbye to the islands and hello to
the vast, unfamiliar blue. Never having sailed across an ocean I was
immediately struck by the enormity of the sea, this realisation that now more
than ever I really was just a speck on an immense blue planet.
Looking out upon the ocean on
the countless hours I spent steering the yacht, cleaning the deck, deploying
trawls and hoisting sails I never once saw an island of trash. That’s because
the island of trash doesn’t exist. The
image of an ‘island’ was conjured by the media in the hype surrounding Captain
Charles Moore’s ‘discovery’ of the Garbage Patch in 1997. In fact we’ve known about
the accumulation of waste in this part of the ocean since the 1960’s and for
hundreds of thousands of years all manner of coconuts, driftwood and seed pods
would have drifted the same. But the difference is, this plastic isn’t going
anywhere. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade; it simply breaks apart into smaller and
smaller pieces. This is why it is more accurate to think of the Garbage Patch
as a giant plastic soup. Large items don’t retain their structure in the ocean
for long. The sun’s radiation and the physical motion of the sea causes it to break
up into small pieces – billions of pieces of plastic that descend throughout
the water quality where they mimic the
food fish, birds, turtles and even whales like to eat. The impacts of marine
debris on wildlife are profound with millions of deaths each year, but what
about the impact on us? Do you want plastic in your sushi?
Once in our oceans we know
plastic kills marine life, makes our beaches look like rubbish tips, becomes
brittle and breaks apart into billions of pieces making it impossible to clean
up and is consumed by all manner of marine life including those that make up
the basis of our food chain. We’ve used more plastic in the last decade than we
have in the entire 100 years of the 20th Century, if we continue on
this path unabated what will it mean for our children, and their children? What
will the beach of the future look like and what marine animals will be left for
us to appreciate or eat without fear of contamination?
It is clear to me and to a
growing number of scientists and environmentalists that the time to act on this
issue is now. So please, re-evaluate your relationship with plastic. Re-think
your actions, do you really need that over packaged product, plastic bag,
plastic cup or plastic bottle or is there a reusable alternative you can adopt?
Remember to reduce, reuse and recycle but go above and beyond – vote with your
wallet – we need our producers to redesign products built to last, be highly
recyclable and made from recycled material.
3 – A Clean Beach Initiative asks people to simply take threepieces of
rubbish with them when they leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere. Get out
there and clean up our world, it’s easy, doesn’t cost you anything and makes
you feel great.
Tim Silverwood is currently
visiting parts of Australia to give presentations on his expedition and to
screen the award-winning documentary all about plastic called ‘Bag It’.
New South Wales
6th Sugarmill Surf Emporium, Narrabeen.
2/1329 Pittwater Rd. 7pm ‘Bag It’ and public premiere of ‘One Beach’
18th Manly Ocean World. 6.30pm
Art Gallery, 6.30pm ‘Bag It’ and presentation.
21st Gerringong Town Hall, Fern St Gerringong.
24th Terrigal Surf Club 7pm (presentation
only, no film)
25th Newcastle, Dixon Park Surf Club 7pm (presentation
only, no film)
26th Forster NSW Venue TBC 7pm (presentation
only, no film)
9th Newport Public School, Queens Pde
Newcastle, TEDx event, Playhouse Theatre. 12pm.
28th James Cook University, Townsville, Room
101. 5-6pm. Guest Lecture only (no film).
29th Base Hostel, Magnetic Island 6.30pm. ‘Bag
It’ and presentation.
30th Reef HQ, Flinders St East. Townsville.
1pm-2.30pm ‘Bag It’ and presentation.
30th Court Theatre, Stokes St. Townsville.
6pm for 7pm start. ‘Bag It’ and presentation.
15th Brisbane venue TBC
16th Sunshine Coast venue TBC
11th Northbridge Piazza, Perth. Spaceship
Earth Film Festival 7pm
13th Curtin University Sustainable Policy
Institute, Freemantle - 5.30pm
14th Dunsborough – Three Bears Bar - 7pm ‘Bag
It’ and ‘One Beach’ films15th Bunbury, Koombana Sailing Club 6.30pm