Following the recent devastating floods in eThekwini, another crisis surfaced – literally. A deluge of plastic waste washed down rivers into the harbour and onto our beaches. For years, environmentalists have warned us about the growing concern over plastic pollution in our oceans. But for most of us, out of sight, out of mind…until now!
As carbon emissions continue to influence climate change with hugely disruptive and often tragic flooding will become more frequent. We need to make sure that mountains of plastic are not lurking in our communities just waiting to be washed to the ocean when the next heavy rains fall.
Although the floods of Domoina in 1984 were even more devastating when you compare photographs taken during that very traumatic time, there is a stark difference. In 1984, the debris that was washed down rivers was mainly organic – logs, weeds etc. Now in 2019, the organic debris has been surpassed by enormous volumes of plastic waste. In just 35 years, plastic has become the leading item washed down rivers during floods.
Although many generous eThekwini residents as well as crews from disposal companies hired by the municipality and Transnet have helped clear up the initial mountain of plastic waste there is still so much to be done.
We can no longer hide from the fact that humans are creating a mountain of waste plastic. The tons of discarded plastic soft drink bottles, pieces of polystyrene, pill bottles and other items that clogged the harbour and piled up on our beautiful beaches cannot just disappear. Plastic never degrades it only disintegrates into smaller and smaller pieces.
At SAAMBR, we’re asking – are you part of the problem or part of the solution to the onslaught of plastic pollution in our oceans? As consumers we have the power to influence businesses by who we support. Can we purchase fewer drinks in plastic bottles? Can we buy takeaways in our own containers to avoid polystyrene containers? How about using our own cutlery instead of plastic disposable knives and forks? By now we should all be using reusable shopping bags, as often as possible. Can we use a recyclable bag for fruit and veggies? Some of our local supermarkets are leading the way – let us support them.
For more information please contact Ann Kunz at uShaka Sea World on 031 – 328 8152.