Living further away from the ocean has opened my eyes to the extent it needs protecting
One thing I really miss now that I live in the inner city is the sea. I’ve had a deep fascination with the ocean for as long as I can remember and have pretty much managed to always live close to it until I moved to London just over two years ago. Although my experience living in the capital has been inspiring in many other ways, that yearning to be close to the water is left forever unfulfilled (a polluted river doesn’t count).
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is I love about the ocean. Maybe it’s the smell of the salty air, or the sight and sound of the crashing waves. Perhaps it’s the mysteries left untold about the corners of the ocean that remain undiscovered, or simply the incomparable feeling of peace, serenity and freedom that the ocean brings.
A more scientific argument could be that the total water surface area of the planet is 70.8%, in the same way that human beings are made up of 78% water. The link is undeniable and inescapable, so it’s no wonder why I and so many others feel such a connection to our oceans.
Whatever the reason, the chilling truth of the matter is that we are totally dependent on our oceans, but we are destroying them on an inconceivable scale. From polluting industries and climate change, to detrimental fishing and global whaling, the survival of entire marine ecosystems is being put under enormous threat as species and their habitats are being pushed towards extinction.
Polluting industries and detrimental fishing… that all sounds pretty out of our hands. So what difference can you and I make? Without wanting to sound patronising or preachy – I am in fact speaking to myself here as much as anybody else – we need to start making some small and simple yet extremely effective changes.
Relearn to Reuse
I am of course talking about sustainability. We need to break this modern day consumerist habit of using something once and throwing it away. Every day at work I see people throwing those incandescent orange Sainsbury’s bags into the bin without a second thought. Bringing your rucksack or tote bag to the supermarket is a simple solution to this.
I’m guilty of buying shiny new bottles of water whenever I’m on the go when I could quite easily refill the last once I bought with water from the tap. I’m a firm believer that the so called ‘mineral’ water we buy comes from the exact same place (just because an industry is producing something natural doesn’t make it any less corrupt than a fast-food outlet).
These are two simple changes to our lifestyles we can all make that will end up making an enormous difference. Learning to reuse plastic is something that should be drilled into our minds at a young age, like the importance of learning how to read or tie up our shoe laces.
We need to take a second before throwing that toxic plastic bag into the bin to think about where it will end up, which will most likely be drifting into the ocean.
The Next Step
Of course these are only the first steps to making changes that will have larger environmental impact. Once you get started it becomes addictive, and as far as addictions go – environmentalism is a great one to have.
So the next step is to start asking yourself questions like “what did I do today?”, “Did I leave my TV on standby all night?”, “Did I make unnecessary journeys in my car?”, “Did I stay in the shower a few minutes longer than I really needed to?”
Nearly every little thing we do effects our environment on a larger and more long-term scale. From the amount of packaging the products we buy come with, to the amount of time we spend brushing our teeth in the morning, it is our responsibility and ultimate destiny to look after this big beautiful rock that we all have to share.
Of course, from arrogant decisions the government make to overfishing carried out by greedy corporations, there are bigger issues and influences that are mostly out of control. The sad truth is that when money and power is involved, nature is not always considered first.
However, I believe that politics starts at home and you truly do have to be the change you want to see in the world. These might sound like tired old clichés, but they should be spoken and remembered until people finally act on them.
What I love the most about the ocean is how it appears never-ending. From the largest whale to the tiniest microörganism, its vast and endless appeal makes me feel like anything is possible. It represents the hope and ambition we all have for a better world, whether we realise and act on it or not.
The unfortunate truth is we are running out of time to prevent irreversible damage to our seas, and the rest of the planet, so we need to start making dramatic changes to the way we live.
Starting right now.