“The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth.”
Growing up by the ocean in a small beach town in Australia, my parents instilled in me a deep and undying respect for the natural surroundings we were blessed with. Every day was Earth Day in my young eyes.
We practiced writing messages of gratitude in the sand, giving thanks to the powers at be for gracing us with a vast shore of pure white sand to play on. Arriving home would mean hanging up wet towels, rinsing sand off under the outdoor shower and a trip to the bin to throw out whatever rubbish we had collected on the beach. However, growing up in a very small coastal town meant that everyone in the community felt the same love and respect for our home. Generally, the rubbish we collected had come from the ocean and washed ashore on a high tide.
Fast forward twenty-something years to when I lived beachfront at Bondi Beach, Sydney; every afternoon when I’d arrive home from work my heart would sink to the bottom of my stomach. The white sand would be covered in trash from the days’ hoards of tourists who had travelled far and wide to treat my home like a garbage tip.
Have you ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s basically an enormous vortex of marine debris particles (namely an exceptionally high concentration of plastics that aren’t biodegradable) swirling around in the North Pacific Ocean. Devastatingly, it’s not the only marine trash vortex, it’s just the largest. The Atlantic and Indian Oceans both have trash vortexes. Even shipping routes in smaller bodies of water, such as the North Sea, are developing garbage patches mainly due to litter that ends up in oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water.
Thankfully, more and more brands and companies are opting for greener packaging options, such as recyclable materials and modern biodegradable plastics. But there’s more you can do to make a difference. This Earth Day, head out to your local park, beach, or even a favorite shopping precinct and have a clean-up with your friends. Jump online and search for a local clean up group in your area. There is one amazing group here in Australia, Responsible Runners and they have a fitness community where they go for a run, and then have a clean up afterwards.
The theme for this Earth Day is to lead. So lead by example, every time you leave your front door, pick up any piece of trash you see on the ground. Nine times out of ten, someone will see you, and you never know, you may inspire them to do the same.
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