…Yet another plastic-ridden beach thousands of miles from any significant metropolis…
Mckenzie and I hiked over the hill from where Swell was anchored hoping to find some wind-swell peaks to surf one morning.
Instead, we discovered this spectacular 1/2 mile-long beach coated in plastic trash (and Portugese man-o-wars!) from end to end. This beach faces the tradewinds on an island nearly 3,800 miles off the coast of Central America. We found shampoo bottles from Chile, a hard hat with ‘Miguel’ inscribed on it, polypropylene ropes, oil containers, broken jugs, toothbrushes, plastic bags, fishing nets, soda bottles, you name it…The plastic was brittle and broke easily when we tried to move it. Tropical sun breaks it down into smaller pieces over time, but they don’t ever biodegrade. What doesn’t reach this beach or others in the Pacific continues on to one of the five ocean gyres where floating plastic accumulates. We are literally turning our oceans into plastic soup!
Here and everywhere, the plastic continues to pollute, contaminating the surrounding environment with the toxic phthalates used in PVC plastic, bisphenol A or BPAs used in polycarbonate plastic, and brominated flame retardants or PBDEs used in many other types of plastic. They enter the food chain from the bottom and move there way up effecting bird life, fish, marine mammals and eventually humans. Do you want your next order of fish and chips with or without plastic toxins?
Is this the kind of world we want to leave for our children?
Let’s reduce our plastic use!
Let’s demand alternatives to single-use plastic!
Let’s clean up the mess we’ve made of Earth!
Some corresponding organizations to support and follow:
Algalita Marine Research Foundation
Mizu Stainless Waterbottles
MiriMarch 22, 2012
Ahoy there Liz,
thanks for posting this and keeping us up to date!
Do you know if the government funds any trips (by boat) to clean that stuff up?
Or maybe other organizations?
JerryMarch 22, 2012
It is a far better fight to rid the world of excessive plastic, a real threat, than attempt to reduce CO2 to alleviate the imaginary threat of global warming.
SailFarLiveFreeMarch 22, 2012
Sometimes we leave our mark on the land/water without ever having been there. Just goes to show how everything is interconnected and there is no true “out of sight, out of mind”. I bet the seas on Keppler-22b are still pristine (I just wrote about it in my most recent blog post).
MarkMarch 22, 2012
Hi Liz, Just found you via goolge today. Wow! To do what you are doing is a dream i put on the back burner years ago, when my only friend adventurous as I passed suddenly passed away while battling leikemia. I’m now rethinking this dream, alone, and reading your stories just lets me know how possible it is to do. Most people continue to just dream, but major props to you for doing it! I’m a couple years out getting a boat, prepping, and pulling anchor, but thanks for the inspiration!
JimMarch 23, 2012
I had read about a guy crossing the Pacific & was tasked to periodically drag a trawl…..he consistently came more inorganic matter then organic matter . I’ve crossed the Pacific twice & you don’t expect that in the middle of such a huge empty expanse of ocean .
EddiefuegoMarch 26, 2012
Liz…I ‘m a treehugger from way back. Studied Enviro Sci in undergrad and grad school in the midwest. Worked in renewable energy my working life.
Reading your blog and getting a sense of your energy gives me some hope for the future. With so many negatives in our world …my hats off to you for picking the environment for your “mission”. I’ve never been sorry for my path and I remain more strongly convinced today than 20 yrs ago in the fact that when you do good things for the planet, the planet will do good things in return. Been there…done it. I’ve spent quite a little time with Bill McKibben…love his energy and work. E.O. Wilson is also a hero of mine as well as my fellow Iowan (Jim Hansen). I bought my first sailboat as my reward to myself the summer I put my first wind turbine in the ground. (Proud here) I am now hooked on sailing and plan to do the cruiser thing …blue water…starting this fall. I would love to run into you somewhere …Out There. Fare winds lady.
EddiefuegoMarch 26, 2012
Envision a solar powered ocean going tanker. Capable of scooping up waste plastic from both the water and the beach, using the suns energy to melt and distill the plastic back down and onboard forming into oil or some more stable carbon purpose….perhaps a wood-like product. The dredge could be operated remotely, like a drone, complete with complete sensors and safety guards. Dream it and make it happen. Biomimicry…perhaps like a whale shark or manta ray that can crawl from the ocean.
LukeMarch 27, 2012
Certainly not a silver bullet, but some hope for the plastic problem
LukeMarch 27, 2012
Not a silver bullet, but some hope for the plastic problem
KyleMarch 28, 2012
Ahh, so this means you won’t be buying any of your boat products if they come in a plastic form factor?
Sure, I’m all for disposing of trash in a responsible manner, however if you really wish to help the planet then you’d turn your attention to halting the growth in population.
That’s the ultimate cause of the bulk of our problems.
There’s simply too many people, with more popping out each and every day (about 3 full football stadiums new arrivals per day last time I looked at the world growth estimates).
Rabbit IslandFebruary 1, 2013
[…] has seen the plastic, swam the changing coral beds, dodged the container ships, reefed her sails through weather, […]
B4BC / Boarding For Breast Cancer » TEAM RIDER // Liz Clark And The Voyage of SwellFebruary 15, 2014
[…] In honor of World Water Day we wanted to acknowledge the importance of having clean & healthy water in our world and also introduce you to the newest member of our team, surfer & environment ambassador, LIZ CLARK! Liz sails all over the world documenting how our oceans and lives are impacted by plastic use. We’re proud of the work that Liz is doing and invite you to follow her journey here, http://www.swellvoyage.com/2012/03/plastic-coated-paradise/ […]