A plastic awakening (by Elizabeth Lee)
I have always heard a few appalling facts about waste and how it pollutes the environment, endangers wildlife and contributes to global warming.
- More than 1 million plastic bags end up in the trash every minute.
- 100% of baby sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs.
- 88% of the sea surface is polluted by plastic waste.
However, even with these mind-blowing statistics you probably still need to see it to believe it.
This Christmas, I am fortunate to participate in Reef Spawn’s Bootcamp in Langkawi Island. During the 4 days 3 nights trip, we visited various companies and offices to dive deeper into the area of marine conservation. One experience I could not forget was our landfill visit and beach clean up session on Day 2.
Right after we went dolphin spotting and enjoyed the cool breeze in Kilim Karst Geoforest park, we headed straight to the landfill. We were greeted by the ‘aroma’. Trucks of rubbish were coming in regularly. Trash was piled up as high as mountains. The lake at the entrance had turned so black, it even had bubbles coming from the chemicals. It was definitely not a touristy spot and neither was it in the itenary.
In the same evening, we headed to the beach for a clean up session with Trash Hero. After briefing by Madam Uli, each of us put on our gear (gloves and plastic bags) to begin picking trash. But wow, little did we realise that the trail of trash was never ending. In the end, we successfully collected 70kg of trash, most of it being plastic bottles and styrofoam. While picking it up, I had mixed feelings. I was angry with humans that are generating trash at lightning speed. At the same time, I was proud and satisfied to be able to contribute in helping to clean it up.
Later on, we were told that the trash picked up would be sent to the landfill. It reminded me of the stinky and unpleasant landfill that we visited in the morning. Despite increased calls to reduce our reliance on plastic, not much has been done. Instead of relying on huge corporations or the authorities to take action, each of us can play our own part. Say no to single use plastics, bring your container to takeaway food, carry a reusable grocery bag and so much more. This is an investment in my future as well. Let us be responsible for our actions because we breathe the air and drink the water of this Earth.