An unpleasant message

Sorry to rain on your day, but I just ran across this and thought that you may not have seen it.

http://news.discovery.com/earth/oceans/atlantic-garbage-patch.htm

In some places in America I see signs by the drains in the street that say something like, “do not put bad things in here because it drains into the lake, or river, or ocean.” I totally agree, but I wonder how many people give any thought to the idea that EVERYTHING drains into the ocean. Unless you live next to the Salton Sea are the great Salt Lake. It pretty much all gets there eventually. And we have polluted the world’s oceans to the point that even our government regulators, who I don’t think are very bright or very honest, say that pregnant women should not eat very much seafood.

I would say that compared with the part of the world that I have seen so far, that Finike is definitely above average. It is definitely better and wiser with garbage collection and recycle. Littering is a problem here in Finike, just like most of the world that I have seen so far. But I think that Finike has much less litter than many American cities that I have been in. It is just that I wish there were less litter. And very few people recycle.

The marina that I am in has recycle bins for glass, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and a dumpster that you can put cardboard, plastic bags and paper for recycle and a few other items in. There are smaller recycle centers here and there around town. And in many places in town, you see special receptacles for used batteries. The EU also often had recycle bins available.

So far in my experience, Seattle had the best recycle system that I know of. But I think some of the programs there have been cut back in recent years.

I absolutely understand that humans just cannot afford to recycle every single thing. Not even close. However, some things are quite profitable and easy to recycle like: aluminum cans, plastic bottles, glass bottles, especially beverage bottles that can be refilled. These are more than just a responsibility that we have to the environment. Companies make a nice profit by recycling these items.

Each morning, here at the Marina, I walk a little route and try to pick up the easy recycle. There is usually quite a bit of easily recyclable stuff laying about or in the dumpsters. I choose to by no means dig around and find it all. I just get the “low hanging fruit” as it were.

I also fish quite a bit of it out of the harbor. Due to the prevailing winds it tends to collect in certain areas, and the marina has provided some dip nets. They have several full-time employees that just go around cleaning up the place. And I think they do a fantastic job of it. But I try to help once in a while when I can. It is amazing the number of plastic bags that I can find floating in the water each morning. They get on the boats propellers and make the boat unsafe. They plug the water inlet for the engine. And then there’s a whole galaxy of environmental problems they cause as they float about.

Someone threw away in the dumpster, a very heavy duty plastic bag that probably originally had 50 pounds of cat food in it. It was quite clean and sturdy, and so I have repurposed it as a bag to use to collect my recycle. I can usually fill it twice in one morning. And that is just getting the items that are easy to reach and are not too sloppy with garbage. I estimate that I get about 10% of what is thrown out with the trash, but should’ve been put in the recycle. I’m not trying to talk bad about Finike. I see many Turks carefully putting things in the recycle. I would guess that Turks are at least as good at it as the Europeans on the boats here. And as I say, I think that Finike is one of the better cities that I’ve lived in in that regard.

But, I do occasionally see people just throwing it on the ground. It’s a depressing numbers game. You can have 1000 or 10,000 clever people in a neighborhood, and a couple of litter bugs can make it look trashy. When I worked as a janitor at a clinic in high school, I had a theory that if I kept the area clean of trash, then far more people would use the trash cans. But, if I let the paper towels or other trash accumulate in the restrooms are other areas, then far more people would not bother. “If everyone else’s throwing stuff on the floor, then why should I reach my arm over 10 inches to one side and drop it in the trash?”

But, back to recycle. I want to say again that I am fully aware that most things that humans consume, we do not have a good way to recycle. It would cost too much and often would use far more resources than it would reclaim. I have no dream that we can have zero negative impact on the universe. I just hope that people will get smarter and do the easy things that make a difference.

Having cloth carry bags that you can use hundreds of times, and that are occasionally even free for the asking, is a nice way but there are many simple ways. Like not taking a bag when you don’t need one. I usually reuse plastic bags. An Austrian friend showed us how to fold plastic bags and make them easier to carry around with us for future use.

Basically, you lay the bag out flat and get it kind of into the shape that it originally came with. Then you fold it up along one long edge, about 2 inches wide. Then you fold that over again and again, until you now have a flat and relatively wrinkle free bag about 2 inches wide, by its original length. Then you fold one corner of the closed end of the bag over to form a triangle and then fold that, and again and again, like folding up an American flag. When you get near the area where the handles are, then you tuck the handles into one of the little pockets formed by folding this triangle repeatedly. Our Austrian friend could do this very quickly and easily, and ended up with a very tidy, very flat, triangular object.

Several other friends that I know, have a clever cloth bag in their kitchen that is a long tube about 6 inches in diameter. They stuff clean, dry, used plastic bags in the top, and you can stuff a lot of them in very easily. The bag has a small opening at the bottom and you just grab the piece of whatever bag is showing and pull it out. Presto! You have a plastic bag in your hand.

The downside is that you get whatever bag is next and sometimes you want a bigger bag or smaller bag or sturdier bag or a bag with handles or bag without handles. Not the end of the world. If you get the wrong bag just stuff it back in the top, and pull out another one. So that’s a good solution also, but I have not yet adopted it.

I carry a bag of my folded bags with me to the market or whenever I am out shopping and try to reuse them. Several of our friends in the states wash them out and reuse them very carefully until they have become damaged. It is actually quite easy to do and they have various ingenious ways to hang them out to dry. I have made the decision that that is more work than I want to do here on the boat. So, when they become dirty, I put them in the recycle. As I said, there is a dumpster for plastic bags and cardboard boxes here in the marina.

Clearly I could do much more, but personally I feel that I am doing more than most people that I know. And, IMHO, anyone that does anything at all, is helping. So my suggestion is to look for ways that you can help that are actually fun. Because I guarantee you there are some. And start helping.

When I was little my family used to camp out in the woods. We had the motto that, “if it was worth carrying in, it is worth carrying out.” We also would pick up the trash that we saw along the way and carry it out.

I really enjoyed the skit that Chris Rock did about picking up trash. It was something about rather than crying about the plight of poor people and how they have no opportunities because they have no money, his family felt that it did not take any money to pick up the trash in front of their house in for a couple of houses to either side. It made perfect sense to me.

Now, MANY of you are already doing far more than I am. I’m very aware that. And, I am quite aware that I have really nice friends. I thank you for it. I hope that I will get to a point where I am comfortable doing more. But I think that it is safe to say that the vast majority of people of America, for example, are doing close to nothing. I cannot expect them to suddenly become hyperactive conservation people. I just ask that they give it a little thought and see what would be fun to start doing.

There are various mottos in this game. Like, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle. As a cheapskate, I started out doing this sort of stuff to save money. I was repurposing things 50 years before I ever heard the term.

Here is a nice video that I think came out in 2007 that I mostly agree with a lot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GorqroigqM

Most of my hesitation is that I think she often paints whole systems as evil with a broad brush. She makes damning generalities that, IMHO, she would be better to not exaggerate. Even though I certainly appreciate that the situation is, when taken as a whole, horrible. And if you know very much about it, it is impossible not to get upset. Just don’t get carried away.

For example, I have a friend here in the Marina, who frequently states that all of the canned food in a particular grocery store has toxins in it. I would feel much more comfortable if she said that you need to read what is in the food, because the vast majority include things that you do not want to eat.

Americans, as a group, consume huge amounts of processed food. It is all rated as perfectly safe by our wonderful government regulators. However, more and more people are realizing that many of the ingredients are questionable at best, and some are clearly unsafe.

It is my theory that some people who might otherwise come to agree with that idea, notice a few gross exaggerations by the enthusiastic evangelist, and use that as a reason to not listen to anything they say. I fear that happens with people watching “The Story of Stuff”. So, I say that, even though I agree with the vast majority of the message, parts of it make me uncomfortable.

And about the fifth-grade my teacher said, “All generalizations are faults, including this one.” I will always remember that. I think it is an important message.

But, let’s face it. The entire video, “The Story of Stuff”, makes me uncomfortable. Because I believe that it is so true, and so ugly. I am by no means opposed to ALL manufacturing and ALL distribution of things. But, I think that the entire system, which must include us, you and me and the people next door, as part of that system, could be so much more intelligent.

Please pass on to anyone that you can, any parts of this that you agree with. The world desperately needs some adult supervision.

Dave

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