We Need to Kick Our Plastic Dependency

I recently took a day off, well really it was a Sunday, but I took the family to the Shore, that’s the New Jersey shore for those of you who aren’t local. Well, it had rained the previous day, and many days before that as well, this may be one of the wettest summers on record.

The beach was a mess, the amount of garbage that was there was intolerable, I was disgusted. My wife and I discussed it and we agreed that due to the previous storms that the beach cleaning crews may not have gotten a chance to clean the sand. The biggest items I noticed were plastic water bottle caps, plastic bags and other bits of plastic.

We found the cleanest area we could and set up for the day. While I sat there I was mesmerized by a number of plastic water bottles the other beach goers were using. I saw hardly any reusable water or drink containers. It sickened me, even more, when my two-year old son brought me his seventh bottle cap he found in the sand.

My son is a land guy, he loves to dig in the sand and have daddy build sand castles, so he can knock them down and laugh.

My daughter, who is four, is the opposite, while she loves to destroy sand castles as well, her call is the water. Once she goes in, it is very difficult to get her out. Fortunately for her, daddy is the same way. I love to be in the waves and feel the power of the ocean around me. I can stand there and bounce in the waves and watch the birds and boats all day.

On our second foray into the water, I saw more plastic bottles and plastic bags floating than I ever had before. I could not believe how polluted the waters were. When one of the floating plastic islands came too close I called it a day. I quickly explained to my wife that we were leaving and after her consoling our daughter and trying to explain to a four year that the amount of garbage on the beach upset daddy too much to enjoy it, she agreed to leave, as long as we hit the boardwalk first, which we did.

This isn’t an attempt to bash the Jersey Shore, in fact, I love that we live so close to it and have hours of memories on it,  both before my family and since. I have spent many hours fishing the shore and playing there. Some of the best naps I have ever enjoyed have come on its sands after a night of surf fishing.

This is though an attempt to raise awareness in everyone that we all need to kick our dependency on plastic, especially plastic bottles. We also need to raise the awareness of our manufacturers that they need to find a better solution in their packaging.

5 Gyres
5 Gyres – Laurent Lebreton who created the image for one of 5 Gyres’ research papers

I am not a tree hugger, or earthy crusader, I am though, an angler and a hunter who loves to enjoy the outdoors. I am someone who knows we are facing a major crisis. Right now there are 5 major sub-tropical gyres in the world’s oceans, some are twice the size of the state of Texas. That’s a lot of plastic smog floating in our oceans and they are not growing smaller, they are growing larger every day.

Plastic is recyclable, but it is far less costly for manufacturers to make new water bottlers than it is for them to recycle used water bottles. That’s just one plastic item, imagine how many plastic wrappers, plastic bags, or plastic lure containers that are used and discarded daily?

Do yourself a favor, next time you drink a bottle of water, take the plastic bottle outside and bury it completely. Let it sit there for a week and check on it, has it broken down at all? Ok, wait a year and go check on it, still no change? Well, to see it start to break down you will need to wait at least 450 years, and in some cases, 1,000 years before that bottle breaks down. How many bottles do you think are made daily, even if we stopped making all plastic water bottles today, it would be generations before we saw their complete breakdown.

I am no expert, you do not have to take my word on it, in fact, please don’t. Do some research on your own and see how cataclysmic things are.Take some time and look at the Costa Kick Plastic website, it has some eye opening information on it.

Yes, plastic has revolutionized our world and brought the prices of consumer goods down, but at what cost?

There has to be a better alternative, and we need to find one. Talk to manufacturers, see what they are doing to help us alleviate this problem. Do your part, instead of drinking from plastic water bottles, get a YETI Rambler or something similar. It will cost more upfront but think what you will save in the long run, maybe it will be more than money, it may be our planet.

I get sickened almost every time I go fishing at local streams as well, I can always tell when others have been there before me. The amount of plastic trash my fellow anglers leave behind disgusts me. I was raised different, if you bring it in, you bring it out, that was what I was taught, but not it seems if you bring it in, just leave it for someone else to deal with. The plastic worm containers, the new lure or fish hook packaging is overwhelming in some areas.

There is a push to ban lead from fishing tackle, I do not agree with that movement at all, but I have a feeling in the very near future there will also be a push to ban plastic altogether. There is another push to ban plastic lures; I will be honest, I do not see the lures as a big a threat as the plastic trash we anglers leave behind.

We all have to do our part, even the most minor act can have a major impact down the road, let’s not wait until it is too late. Our waters, our fish, and children deserve better.

Here is a cool video I saw on Facebook, yes it’s an add for a product, but it still shows how important our need to kick our plastic habit is.