Two weeks ago I went to a TEDx meeting. It was great! All those people sharing their ideas, that got me thinking. What are ideas worth spreading? I believe I have such a story. A story which is an idea worth spreading.
I started kitesurfing in 2013 after I had one lesson of it in 2012 since than I am hooked and introduced some friends with the sport too. We’re all stoked and love the sport. When there is wind predicted in the weather forecast our App group starts to live, when, where, which kite size etc.
Being out on the water is just great. Wind, sun, waves, sea, nature, the vastness of it all. Sometimes I just lie in the water, my kite hovering above me, legs stretched, board still on my feet. Looking at the clouds drift by, feeling completely at peace.
But it is with kitesurfing that I came in direct contact with marine litter. The place that I go kitesurfing the mostlooks clean, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving. One day I saw rusted nails lying in the sand and I don’t mean those small ones but nails 6 – 10 cm long. Just lying there and nobody did anything about them so I started picking them up. From nails it went to collecting the plastic straws, wrappers and cans that were lying around in the area where we launch our kites. Over time the cleanup area, for me, expanded. On walks on the beach I started taking a garbage bag with me, clearing the beach while taking long walks.
The more time I did spend on the beach, the more it did start to annoy me that people just left their rubbish. I was even more amazed at what washes ashore after a big storm. From “Fairy” bottles to baseball mits to licence plates from cars. I started to read up on the problem concerning marine litter and how it affects all marine life. But it is not just marine life that is affected by all of this.
A few years ago I saw a documentary on honey and how it contained microplastics. I was shocked, I did not think this was possible, never linked the two together. I started to get more and more involved with these issues. Read up on the state of our seas, rivers and drinking water and how it is all connected. A plastic bottle gets left behind on land. The wind blows it in the river and the river takes it out to sea (or if there’s too much waste it will eventually kill the river depriving locals access to clean drinking water). The sun (UV light) will make the plastic brittle and it will eventually breakdown into small pieces (microplastics). Fish think it is food and eat it and we eat the fish. This is just one example, there are countless more. Knowing all this I needed to act. Make a difference. Thinking that if I only reach a few people it will be worth it. So here we are, Stichting Clear Water Initiative.
Like us there are foundations all over the world trying there hardest to make people aware of the problems concerning marine litter. But if we want to address this problem properly we all need to unite.
The Ocean Cleanup, 2 Minute Beach Clean, Stichting Noordzee, The Plastic Soup Foundation, The Surfrider Foundation, Water.org, The Ocean Conservancy, the United Nation Nation Environment Programme, Project Seabin. We all need to start working together. Stand united against the plastic industry, the packaging industry. We need the wake up the big companies. We need to wake the consumer. Educate them and make people aware that they should bin their trash and not just leave it behind, throw it out of a car window or just throw it away while on a hike, bike ride etc.
It is time we look for alternative ways for plastics and they are out there.
Groningen (The Netherlands)