It`s Time to Stop Using Plastic Drinking Straws
It’s been an amazing month. Hopping into my convertible jeep, pushing the roof back, wind in my face, hair streaming out behind me. Skin glowing, face tanned, large aviator sunglasses on. Feeling strong, powerful and able to take on the anything. My wheels have given me freedom and I’m solar powered. Wired to the world and the energy pouring into me from mother nature
I leave the main tarred road and get off the beaten track. I’ve been watching out for a turtle excavation for the last 10 days and this afternoon one is happening. When a turtle lays her eggs she will never meet her young. Not the greatest parenting skills or the easiest start in life. The hatchlings have the odds stacked against them at 1000-1. I meet the group of volunteers at “The goatshed” and we listen to a short documentary on green turtles in North Cyprus. 30% of the worlds greens lay on these beaches, the temperature of the nest determines the sex of the babies (climate change will have an impact on the number of females being born), a female will return 3 or 4 times a season to lay eggs.
Green sea turtles live very long lives. It takes at least 20 - 50 years to reach sexual maturity and a healthy individual can expect to live 80-100 years or even more!
We begin our trek down to the beach where the nest hatched naturally 2 days ago. The nests are left for 2 days to give the stragglers a chance to clamber out themselves. Today we will be studying the amount of eggs layed, the amount that successfully hatched, the eggs that did not hatch, and if we get lucky there may be a baby or 2 still trying to make their way to the top.
It’s hot, I love the heat but this is something else, sweat is dripping down my legs, some of the other observers (without my determination) have gone down to the sea for a dip. The volunteers have been dragging the sand to the sides using their arms as a shovel. I try to look on the positive side and think how beautifully exfoliated they must be. The nest is deep, the volunteers switch roles and someone collects water to try to hold back and reinforce the sides of the excavation. I am positively sparkling with heat and sweat. After about 30 minutes they reach the top of the chamber. This is measured at 85 cms. Apparently the green turtle can be pretty fussy when choosing where to lay her eggs. She might prepare a spot for 90 minutes before changing her mind and trying another spot.
This one is very deep. The broken shells start to come out. I am holding my breath. I desperately want to be part of rescuing the runt of the litter but equally don’t want to know that a baby has been stuck for a crucial 48 hours of its life. As they get further into the belly of mother earth plastic straws, bottle tops other debris are churned out. My heart sinks, this is the plastic that the eye can see. Even here on this protected beach there is plastic. After another 20 minutes of digging and reinforcing the walls of the chamber a baby is rescued. It looks relieved as it is held up to the sunshine. Its flippers are flapping wildly, I laugh as it flicks sand from its eyes, my laughter and amusement grow louder as it sneezes and more sand is expelled through its nostrils.
I am in awe of the sun crisped volunteers who are working tirelessly in the heat every day, checking that not 1 baby gets left behind. The volunteers walk 100s of kilometers in a season back and forth along the beach day and night trying their hardest to record, measure and note every nest layed and hatchling hatched.
I am in despair though at the plastic on the beach.
I have my “Last plastic straw moment”
I have been reading about the problem of plastic straws and sharing articles on facebook but until now have not resolved to never have another. I do in this moment. I can’t call myself a guardian of the planet whilst using plastic.
Scientists estimate that, at current rates, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish. Plastic doesn’t ever completely dissolve, and is often mistaken for food by marine creatures. Report after report is emerging of dead animals as large as whales being found with their bellies filled with pieces of plastic trash, large and small. I saw a dead turtle last year on the beach that had been strangled by fishing wire that was wrapped around its neck and the plastic that holds cans together is lethal.
What can you do? Enjoying your beverages without straws is a small gesture with high impact. Simply say “No straw, please.” If you are worried about fruit juice and sugar carry a trendy looking glass, bamboo or stainless steel straw.
Plastic straws don’t get recycled. Straws seem like no big deal, because they are so small, but 500 million per day really adds up.
Plastic constitutes 90% of all trash floating in our oceans. Drinks taste just as good without a straw.
As the group of volunteers count shells and eggs I walk down to the waters edge. The sea is cool and inviting I step in for long enough to cool down and then lay my Indian bed sheet out. I start to mine one corner. Picking up plastic and putting it in the plastic bag that had carried my fruit. I used to mine the beach for shells ~ I wonder if tiny pieces of plastic is going to be my new mining. When I finish that corner I move along the edge and start again, I work like this until all 4 edges have been completely cleared of plastic. I then move my bed sheet a little back and to the side and start again. Its slow work but I fulfil my OCD tendencies! After an hour I look in the bag, I have barely made a difference but if everyone said no to a plastic straw or picked up a 1000 tiny pieces of plastic each time they were at the beach maybe we would.
It`s Time to Stop Using Plastic Drinking Straws