A PLASTIC OCEAN

WE NEED A WAVE OF CHANGE

Kim Akrigg

Photographer

Hometown: Vancouver, Canada

Current Residence: Byron Bay, Australia

Social Media Handles: @kimakrigg

Personal Website: www.kimakrigg.com

Born by the Sea

I had the good fortune of being born by the sea. I could swim before I could walk, I grew up kayaking, playing in the ocean, and the local aquarium was my favourite place. Water has always been my element, where I’m happiest, the ocean feels like home no matter where the shore differs. 5 years ago I learned to surf and moved across the planet to Australia to pursue this passion, because I wanted a life where I could surf every day. Ocean stewardship and conservation has always been important to me, however before I sat down to watch A Plastic Ocean I had no idea of the level of catastrophe that our oceans are facing.

About the Film

A Plastic Ocean begins, first of all with chasing blue whales. Magnificent, unreal, creatures from the deep. When you talk to children about whales, they understand it better than adults do. They are so blown away, impressed and enthralled by the immense size of these creatures.  This is where education regarding the ocean needs to begin. We need to foster that sense of wonder, and respect for the ocean and our environment from an early age.

Furthermore, A Plastic Ocean delves into talking about the sheer amount of plastic that has found it’s way into our oceans. We consume so much of it, consequently not thinking about where it goes past our rubbish or recycling bin, if it even makes it to the recycling bin at all. In Fiji, plastic is being burned as fuel to cook food over. Plastic is filled with endocrine disrupters, which can lead to cancer, infertility, and sickness. This toxicity is leaching into our water, the air, and even into our food.

The information in A Plastic Ocean can be interpreted on so many levels. Sea creatures are magnificent and majestic, and are suffering greatly as a result of the amount of plastic that has ended up in our oceans. Ocean currents form 5 main gyres, which collect garbage from sea and in the Great Pacific there is a mass of garbage the size of Texas. Sea turtles mistake plastic bags for their favourite food, jellyfish, therefore they eat the bags, which get stuck in their digestive systems, thus effectively starving them slowly. Plastic rings get stuck around their necks and plastic straws trapped in their noses. Dissections of sea birds have found masses of plastic in their stomachs, the equivalent size of you eating 12 pizzas.

The Problem with Plastic in the Surf

The problem with plastic is that it doesn’t ever go away.  All the plastic that has ever been made still exists on earth. It breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces over time, getting trapped in animals and littering the ocean floor. Off the coast of Hong Kong, a shipping container carrying packing material made of tiny plastic beads capsized, hence dumping all the beads into the ocean. They washed up on shore looking as if it had snowed. Nearby fish farmers’ crops were destroyed as the fish swallowed the pellets, which made them unsellable. This problem effects everyone.

This problem is everyone’s problem. It affects every single person on the planet, whether they think so or not. There needs to be better resources to recycle the plastic that already exists, and consumers need to vote with their dollars and speak up, telling corporations they want alternatives. We need to educate each other, and this film is an excellent tool in doing that. It’s easy to think of environmental issues in the abstract, or feel powerless to change anything. The film mentions that each person on average yearly uses 300lbs of plastic which gets thrown away. If this could even be halved, through consuming consciously, it would have a huge impact on the environment.

Choosing different products with different packaging or even speaking up with local businesses asking them to make changes is just the start. Money talks and the biggest way to voice your vote is to spend consciously. Corporations exist to make money, so if you can make it their issue, they will respond. This is an issue that needs to be made everyone’s priority, so we can continue enjoying and respecting the ocean as it deserves.

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