The Gifts of the Sea

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” 
― John Muir

I live on a beautiful island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and connected by the Sea of Abaco to a larger island. It is a chain of islands called the Abacos and it is flanked by the world’s third largest barrier reef system. The nature that surrounds the island is awe inspiring and often takes my breath away. Long morning walks along the white sand beaches and rock formations help me to soul search and ponder the creation of nature, its intricate ecosystems, the beauty of the tides and creatures and the immense ocean that humbles you. All this introspection lends to the idea that this beautiful landscape and its rhythms are delicate though they appear fierce, enduring and strong.

I recently watched an expose on the use of plastics on 60 minutes that spoke of the unlimited consumption and production of this inpeneterable substance that has begun to plague or environment. As I watched the program, tears began streaming down my face. Plastic is sometimes touted as the world’s best invention, creating convenience and longevity is now more destructive to our balanced ecosystems than any other material. All this convenience is fantastic, I thought, but at what cost?

Take a look around, odds are you’re surrounded by plastic. It’s in our kitchens and in our bedrooms, it keeps our food fresh and our medicine safe. It is, in many ways, a miracle product, cheap to produce and virtually indestructible. Yet plastic’s blessings are also our planet’s curse. That water bottle we use once and throw away will be with us for generations. There are campaigns to limit this plastic plague with bans on bags and straws and yet around the world, it continues to pile up, seeping into our rivers and streams and turning our oceans into a vast garbage dump.  I watch as the piles of refuse wash up onto the pristine shores of Great Guana Cay.

I began to look at my own consumption, how could I reduce my use? I began a log of everything I touched during the day that was made of plastic. Beginning with my toothbrush in the morning all the way to my plastic essential oils diffuser I used at night. In one day, I touched 167 items made up of plastics. It blew my mind. This was even when making conscious efforts to not touch plastic items. I can see why this is a pandemic of epic proportions to our environment.

I do try to limit my use, refusing items packaged in plastics, and carry fabric shopping bags to the grocery store, I refuse straws, changed to bamboo toothbrushes, all in effort to do my part. But still I feel defeated when it comes to the detrimental effect of how our consumption relates to the beauty of nature that surrounds us.

Feeling helpless, I tried to think of ways beyond reducing and recycling. Recycling in America is a big fallacy meant to assuage our guilty feelings of consumption. This article points to how our recycling plants do not recycle most of our waste it sells it to other countries to recycle. So, when I learned this I was appalled. Everything I sorted into proper bins back in the States was a ruse and not helping the environmental impact of our waste.

I want to do my part, I want to feel like I can give back to the planet what it has provided me with it’s beautiful nature scapes and serenity. After taking many long walks along the beaches, as my therapy, a way to connect to my soul and to God’s gift of nature… I get to wondering what can I contribute?

So then I decided it’s time to get our community of 150 year round residents to help pick up plastics refuse and pollution to our otherwise perfect white sand beaches. I organized an island wide clean up to create awareness about refuse, reducing plastic use and offer ways to rethink the recycling of plastics.

The community of Great Guana Cay January 2019 Beach Clean up collected 44 lbs of trash from the beaches

Often, I search for bits of tumbled glass hoping to create art or make jewelry with it. But the seaglass is seen as treasure, and for every piece I find I find 10 pieces of micro plastics that have washed up on the shores of this little barrier island which frankly doesn’t have the same appeal. I often leave the beach with more plastic waste than sea glass. But if we all put in a concerted effort we could really make a difference. At least, until the next storm washes up another load on to the shores.

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