Localizing a Global Problem

On Friday, May 5th, the Greenpeace ship Beluga II set off on a journey to investigate plastic pollution on the Scottish shores. The area is home to nesting colonies of gannets, puffins, razorbills, guillemots and shags, along with numerous iconic marine animals.

Beluga II Ocean Plastic Pollution Tour in Scotland
Beluga II Ocean Plastic Pollution Tour in Scotland. @ Will Rose/Greenpeace

It’s not surprising that they found massive amounts of plastic spread ubiquitously around the shore. The plastic problem has gotten out of hand. The good news is that they are using what they discovered to push for a nation wide bottle recovery scheme, and pressuring businesses to take responsibility for the afterlife of their products.

What is remarkable about this study, ignoring Greenpeace’s reputation, is that the study was done locally, and is used to create local legislation and a local movement. This is scientists saying, “Hey look at the litter on your coast, and the impacts on your wildlife. We should do something about this,” as opposed to the usual global rhetoric, “hey, there are hundreds of millions of tons of trash in the ocean, it’s killing animals you’ve never seen, in places you can’t identify on a map…you should feel really guilty, and stop using plastic bags.”

Yes this is a global problem, but if we focus on the world wide problem, it is easy to blame someone on the other side of the world. So, while understanding the global implications of our choices, we must take a more local look at the plastic problem.

 

Check out amazing photos from the expedition here

Read the expeditions press release here

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