Life began in the ocean

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Şeyda DAĞDEVİREN HILL

The end of 2017 was very special for me. It has been more than four years since I started working in my current job in an NGO raising awareness of the potential risks of marine pollution, its effects on sea life and personal health e.g. You may think that every job is special for each individual but mine is a little bit different from others. How? Because acting to protect innocent marine species and the seas and oceans to help them survive gives me a great sense of purpose. If you are aware that the seas and oceans are full of life, you become very passionate about making a contribution to a sustainable future for our seas and oceans.

 

Until I started organising International Coastal Cleanup, I did not really realise how much plastic humans use in their life and throw away unconsciously. It was saddening for me because our marine litter report was saying that the main proportion of litter was plastics and international research supported the results, as they proved that more than 50% of it was, including plastic which sinks to the bottom of the sea and ocean. Other startling research shows that I an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the world’s oceans yearly.

 

In the past few days, we hosted a documentary called A Plastic Ocean. Little more than one year ago was the first time I saw it. After that day nothing was the same again in my life because it was a really mind blowing movie. I never thought I was using that much hidden plastic in my life. Immediately, I started removing the plastics from my kitchen. When my husband saw me doing that he asked me if we were moving to a new flat or not. I sent all of them to the recycling bin. Subsequently, I started to replace our personal care products, which contained micro plastics. It changed our life in a positive way. I am telling everyone that they should watch it. When you are together with your family please watch it! It will inspire you to change your life in a conscious way at the beginning of 2018.

 

I want to give you a brief overview of my impressions about the movie.

 

“A Plastic Ocean” is a groundbreaking documentary, which opens our eyes to the extent of the damage done to the oceans by human plastic disposal. First of all, we see how sea creatures such as whales, turtles, sea birds and a whole host of other marine life are dying from mass scale involuntary consumption of the plastic in the seas.

 

The plastic that we throwaway finds itself flowing into rivers and then is taken to the ocean and the detrimental effect of wildlife is devastating as we see a whale giving his last breaths as plastic in his stomach ends the life of this majestic sea creature. Furthermore, the level of plastic taken from the stomachs of dead birds and fish is horrifying. Even more startling is the scientific evidence that the plastic taken in by marine life absorbs chemicals and toxins in the sea and has found its way into the food chain, thus raising the prevalence of cancer in human beings.

 

In short “A Plastic Ocean” shows that in polluting the oceans with plastic we are not only wiping out birds and marine life, but we are also laying the foundations for our own demise through the food chain.

 

Alarms bells should be sounding now for all people who have witnessed the revelations revealed by this important documentary. For if we do not act now and collectively, not only will marine life continue to die but we will also start to suffer the ill effects of cancer and other diseases ourselves caused by plastic ingestation through eating marine life on our plates.

 

So how can we redress the balance and save the seas from ultimate destruction on a wide scale? As a human race we must reduce our consumption of plastic and recycle the plastics we still use by putting them into recycling bins and not general waste, which will end up in landfill sites, which often leak into rivers.

 

Furthermore, we need to follow the lead of countries like Germany who now give financial incentives to businesses and customers alike to use recycling machines within shops and also countries like Rwanda who did a scientific assessment on the use of plastic and the effect on their land and ecosystem and opted for a wholesale ban on plastic usage. Even more worrying is that when we drink and eat from plastic containers we are unwittingly absorbing oestrogen which accelerates the ageing process.

 

This is an urgent crisis and we must take heed of the warning from this documentary before it is too late because according to scientific data, our seas and oceans produce 50-70% of the amount of oxygen humans and animals need. In other words seas and oceans provide every second breath we take.

 

Make a difference today and do not forget that every little helps!

 

I want to go back to where it all started. I want to go back to the whales. I want to go and find the juvenile that we first saw. If whales could talk to us, I imagine they would ask us, what were we thinking? Every other species on the planet works towards the benefit of the ecology and environment that it lives in, but us humans, we just seem like passengers on this earth. I want to say to the parents of the juvenile, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, on behalf of humanity, for putting plastic into your home”. And I want to say, “We’ll share this story because from knowing comes caring, and from caring comes change.” – Craig Leeson.

 

Şeyda DAĞDEVİREN HILL, Istanbul, January 27, 2017.