There’s a lot of terrible news out there, but yesterday a headline about the circumstances of this death of a whale in the Philippines actually broke my heart.
A juvenile Cuvier’s beaked whale washed up in Compostela Valley, showing signs of starvation and dehydration, and had been vomiting blood.
Further investivation revealed 40kg of plastic waste in its stomach, comprising shopping bags, banana plantation bags and 16 rice sacks.
This was reportedly the most amount of plastic seen by these marine biologists in a whale.
It keeps happening though.
For these species, adult males have two forward-pointing teeth which protrude from the tip of the lower jaw, but otherwise beaked whales are toothless and are thought to use suction to catch their prey.
And of course, the main threats to this marine species include the accumulation of toxic pollutants in whale tissue and organs, entanglement in fishing nets and marine litter, and noise disturbance.
They may also swallow plastic bags mistaken for prey, which can accumulate in the stomach of the animal causing starvation and eventual death.
Can our own species be any worse?
We were living in Malaysia when news broke of a pilot whale dying in Thailand having eaten 80 plastic bags.
Who else saw this?
I was horrified.
But plastic waste and plastic bags are inescapable in Thailand and Malaysia, and across the whole of South East Asia.
It was a culture shock, but really not that surprising to learn that Tesco has an inconsistent policy when it comes to single use plastic bags.
- In 2017, in the UK, Tesco announced that they would no longer be selling 5p carrier bags.
A step towards sustainability? Or pure corporate greenwashing?
Because it’s a different kettle of fish (probably also made of plastic) in Tesco Malaysia, where it is actually proud to dispense plastic bags as if its livelihood depended on it.
This. Is. Devastating.
Especially if you care about the whales.
90% of plastic polluting our oceans comes from just 10 rivers in the world.
Eight of them are in Asia: the Yangtze; Indus; Yellow; Hai He; Ganges; Pearl; Amur; Mekong.
The other two are in Africa — the Nile and the Niger.
We urgently have to act on this.
Plastic waste is bad, bad, very bad, news.
Now, I know there is a shit tonne of bad stuff happening around the world — it’s kind of hard to avoid it.
Without it in good nick, we ALL lose.
We really are killing ourselves living the way we do, and we’re taking everything else down with us.
We need to understand this. Like, really understand it.
All the decisions we make every day, big ones and small ones — like what we eat, where we shop, what we wear, how much we travel, where we live, or whether or not to take a single-use plastic bag (even if we will use it again).
Whether we take a disposable ANYthing.
It is wreaking havoc on our environment, our habitat, on the whole world.
But guilt or no guilt, good decisions or bad ones — the planet will actually survive us.
It’s just that WE will not.
In the meantime, we are losing species — not just individuals — at an alarming rate too.
In fact, in our glorious Anthropocene era, us humans — who make up 0.01% of the total biomass on the planet, have managed to wipe out 83% of all wild mammals and half of the world’s plants, by weight.
Meaning that of all the mammals on the planet these days, 96% are livestock and humans, only 4% are wild mammals.
Debunk what you can of the research study here.
We just can’t keep going like this.
I can’t bear news — sad news, bad news, filtered news, fake news — — — the news is just so intentionally depressing.
It doesn’t make my life any better knowing the state of the world as told by alarmist, sensationalist “news” channels.
So I live by the adage, “You Get What You Focus On…So Focus On What You Want”.
Really rather shamelessly, I try and focus on the positives — and that is just way easier when you stay away from the news.
And so I gratitude journal — a lot.
But I don’t just bury my head in my journal, get on the mat and pray for better days.
The reason I do ANY and all of what I do … personal development, yoga, mindset work, journaling, even minimising my products consumption or choosing cruelty-free…
… Is actually all down to this.
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy
- We must implement change ourselves, first.
- We must become the people we want to be, first.
- We must become to be the change that we want to see in the world, first.
- We must role model all of that ourselves, first — before we preach to others.
I do me.
You do you.
That is a deal.
I try not to lecture. To evangelise. To preach.
When it comes to plastics, and for the sake of marine conservation, and general preservation of the planet… Can we be please, PLEASE, be super conscious about how, and what, we consume.
I’m not asking anyone to give up plastics. Or go do a beach clean. Or make any life-altering decisions right now.
Just be aware.
That’s the start — it’s the very least we can do.
Ugh, and I’ll try not to despair in the meantime.