Okay, my apologies if you’re disappointed by the lack of flaming balls in this post. Scroll to the photo gallery for the title’s inspiration.
I don’t know if you’ve seen this video making the rounds in the socialnetworkosphere. If you haven’t, just beware that it is not uplifting (to say the least). It’s an animation — a summation of our planetary exploitation of animals and resources. With that in mind, click here if you like:
A few days after I saw the video, I came upon an image that pulled at my heartstrings. It was at SEANET blog, in a post about a deceased merganser who’d washed up on shore with a hair elastic bound around his bill.
These scenes are common in our waste-driven world. Anyone who spends time in marine environments comes upon animals entangled in fishing filament or gear, empty rodent poison cannisters on the shoreline, whole sofas washed up against buttresses — you get the picture. What struck me about the merganser post was how it pointed to my own complicity … in a vivid way.
I don’t, as a rule, wear ponytails. But, I’m certain an elastic or two from my home has ended up in a landfill, maybe even the ocean and then potentially tangled around a different bird’s bill or in the stomach of a marine mammal. These days, I cut anything that looks like an strangulation hazard, but that doesn’t take away the fact that non-biodegradable items still end up in the trash sometimes.
It’s easy to look at ocean trash objects that I don’t use (like fishing filament or rat poison containers) and externalize the cause. When the objects I find and discard along the shore hit closer to home — when they are modern contrivances that appear so benign — it always inspires a reckoning. First, I feel utterly sick about it. Then, after I get over myself, I take inventory of where I can cut back further still in my lifestyle. We’re in a relatively modest 600-square-feet of living space, but even still, “stuff” can accumulate if you’re not careful. I’d be lying if I said I had the waste cycle in my home down to zero output. George Carlin nailed it years ago:
As one little experiment, a friend and I were doing real-time tests on allegedly biodegradable products in compost. So far, the biodegradable trash bags have broken down into crisp fragments in about two months, with a few more months needed for complete integration. I can’t be sure they’re decomposing into inert substances. That’s my next area of research. If you happen to know, post a comment.
Bay & Beach Flotsam
I started a project a few years ago on Bay & Beach Flotsam, documenting the items I’d found around San Francisco Bay beaches (like bowling balls, shopping carts and disposable medical gloves. After moving to Puget Sound, I wasn’t seeing as much trash, simply because there’s less public shoreline to meander, and the small public parks have cleanup detail.
The other day, however, Hugh and I walked along the waterfront after a storm. What we encountered was almost a landfill’s worth of styrofoam, both intact pieces and broken down into the types of fragments you can imagine sea animals ingesting (as documented around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch). We didn’t have the tools to deal with this mess in that moment.
Along the path, we saw there were collected bags worth of styrofoam and waste, waiting for trash pickup. Those bags themselves, as far as I could tell, were plastic, not biodegradable. I recalled a recent conversation with someone who told me, “I don’t understand the plastic bag ban. I don’t throw my bags into the ocean.”
We obviously have a long way to go but I do believe every little effort counts, particularly if that effort is matched again and over again by others and becomes an exponential expansion of consciousness. I’m still a work-in-progress myself.
For a visually interesting take on recycling, check out the Facebook page of the Recycled Art Foundation. They are a “platform for anyone, group, company to showcase the benefits of recycling to a wider audience.”
From the Puget Flotsam Gallery
Here’s genesis of the post title … found on a Puget Sound beach …
I see a lot of discarded flip flops in Puget Sound and Lake Washington:
When I was younger, I never knew how pervasive balloon trash was:
Loads of Styrofoam:
General classification: shoreline rubbish:
Furniture foam, not biodegrading:
Unfortunate art in a bottle (plastic bottle with styrofoam fragments):
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