Whether it's ice cube cooling your drink, building sandcastles at the beach or exploring the waterways and estuaries in your kayak, the joy we experience from clean water is precious.
Perhaps it’s something we take for granted – a presumed clean water future, the statistics are anything to go by the picture is more grim than we might imagine. According to a comprehensive study up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste went into the ocean in 2010. Some of it sinks, much of of it floats, but one thing is for certain, the direct effect this has on our wildlife and our planet is catastrophic.
In 2019, SPEL embarked on a journey to understand the true relationship of what we did with how we wanted the future to look. We asked a lot of questions, and we listened intently to the answers. It seems we’re not the only ones searching for a ‘clean water future’ – everyone is, for their own future – that of their children and even their children’s children.
So that’s how it started. As clean water custodians we have made this our mission and ‘Joy in Water’ has become our mantra.
PLASTIC IN OUR WATERWAYS
It’s easy to be affected by images of birds chocking on plastic bags and seal strangled by netting, but do we truly understand the impact? Not only are we killing over a million marine animals each year, we’re also consuming the plastic ourselves.
Plastic is made to be strong and durable, taking considerable time to break down in our waterways – usually by the effects of the sun, waves and marine life. Larger plastic eventually becomes microplastics. These are – fragments generally defined as smaller than can be detected by the naked eye, and it is these microplastics that marine animals often mistake for food. It is ingested along with the toxic chemicals and pesticides that often concentrate on the surface, blocking their digestive tract, diminishing the urge to eat, and altering their feeding and reproductive behaviour. We are essentially starving our marine life by feeding them a diet of plastic and chemical runoff that originates mostly from our homes.
The news however gets worse. Every bite of food, every sip of water we consume in our own diet almost certainly contains these tiny beads of plastic. While there currently isn’t enough data to predict the effect this has on human health, it’s hard to comfortably believe there’s no consequence
Heard of the Great pacific
To put things into perspective, that’s an area around the size of Queensland – minus the peninsula – full of human produced waste.
The gyre anticipated to weigh around the equivalent of 500 jumbo jets, and has grown steadily in size since the 1970s. Once plastic enters the catchment, it’s usually imprisoned until it’s slowly broken down into harmful microplastics.
HOW DO WE ENSURE
A CLEAN WATER FUTURE?
The answer is clear – we stop putting plastic into our waterways. This won’t be one easy ‘fix all’ solution, but a combined strategy to reduce, re-use and remove:
- Reduce or eliminate your consumption of single-use plastics
- Recycle and become an advocate for recycled and reusable products, eve when they cost a little more
- Remove the plastic and toxins from the source of our urban waterways
- Spread the word and stay informed
- Support organisations who are addressing the plastic pollution problem
SPEL might not be able to redirect the 150 million tonnes of single use plastic produced every year just yet, but it’s in our DNA to try. Like you, we’ll continue to fight for every precious ‘Joy in Water’ moment ahead, because without clean water – there is no future.