We have all been shocked by the BBC’s Planet Earth II footage of seabirds and turtles struggling with plastic in our seas and oceans. Ellen McArthur’s campaign after her experiences of the Pacific ocean gyre was launched more than 5 years ago, and yet the problem seems to be getting worse.
The experts have told us that most of the plastics we see in British waters and on British beach strand lines originally came from huge rivers flowing through developing countries, but on Friday 19 January 2018 we read that researchers in the Orkneys have founds micro-plastic contamination in Scapa Flow that is as bad as the estuary of an industrial center such as the Clyde or the Firth of Forth. The researchers believe that the micro-plastics have been carried by tides up the East Coast and then have been concentrated in natural harbour of Scapa Flow. This is chastening news for all of us that love the Orkneys and the North of Scotland and had hoped that save for the strand line plastics, the far North was safer for wildlife.
As we are planning our sailing for 2018 we are redoubling our efforts to reduce our impact. Onboard we already try and minimise the number of plastic bottles we waste, use eco friend detergents and use marina recycling where available.
But the Orkney research tells us that we our home lives in London are polluting the sea with micro-plastics from washing our synthetic clothes and beads in ‘beauty’ products. We know we need to start wearing more cotton and wool; but we would be reluctant to move away from the plastics we rely on for our ropes, waterproofs and sails.
What else can we do, at home or onboard? This is something we will be thinking about this year and welcome your thoughts and ideas.