It's Earth Day today, so perhaps it seems odd to be thinking about the sea. However, I was drawn to the problem of plastic in the sea just the other day.
We were walking on South Venice beach in FL and my husband Tim's photo shows the beautiful calm Gulf waters alongside us. The sun was shining in a clear blue sky, and at the horizon it just seemed to melt into the turquoise water. It just seemed so clear, so calm, so perfect.
But further down the coast there were three plastic bottles washed up on the sand dunes, and a plastic bag wrapped around a twig. We have all seen something similar but after that perfect vision of sea and sky, it just seemed so jarring.
The problem is that plastic is a brilliant material. It is light, flexible, can be formed into an endless variety of shapes and doesn't break easily. It would seem to be one of the best inventions in our modern world, but like many things there are some real downsides to this wonder material and it is the ocean that is suffering.
We didn't even have plastics when I was young. You purchased milk or soft drinks in a glass bottle and returned the bottles to the shop for a refund. You took your own bags to the greengrocers or the corner store, and covered foods in the larder with a damp cloth. Now, it's all plastic. Cling-wrap to keep the food fresh, plastic bottles, plastic bags. And all of this is just a few decades.
However, I saw a statement the other day which struck a chord with me:
"Behind each and every piece of littered plastic debris there is a human face. At a critical decision point, someone, somewhere, mishandled it, either thoughtlessly or deliberately."
The water bottle someone left when they stopped to take a photo, the plastic bag that blew away as you were getting into the car, the fishing line you can see snagged around a rock. We've all made decisions about these things, haven't we. It's only one plastic bag after all and it's too hard to chase it, especially as the car is open and the baby's inside... It's depressingly easy to cause one more piece of plastic pollution.
|Knitted Bags. Top Left: Nokomis Beach Bag, Right: Sarasota Shopper,|
Lower Left: BYOB Market Bag, Right: BYOB - Bring Your Own Bag!
However, I like to keep positive and see the pluses rather than the negatives with issues such as this. So the positive side of this issue is that we don't have to go back far in our history to see solutions! Take plastic bags. My mother or grandmother would use a string bag or basket for all their shopping, so that's what we can do too! Not that this will sort out all the issues of past pollution, but it's a way of at least reducing some future problems.
So, here's a resolution for this year's Earth Day: "No plastic bags for me!"
Let's make this the year in which no single plastic bag comes home with us! Instead, we can delight in knitting or making bags to make our shopping trips plastic free.
The photo above shows just some of the many knitted bag patterns that are available to choose from. At the top L is Anna's Nokomis Beach Bag, a lovely pattern worked in Cascade 200 wool.
The photo at the top R is the Sarasota Shopper, a lovely bright linen-lined bag - super strong and cute too! This pattern can either be purchased on its own or in the Southampton Collection, which includes three other styles.
Then the two lower bags are free patterns for all those lighter-weight or awkwardly shaped items that we need to carry home. On the right is the BYOB -Bring Your Own Bag! pattern, with 4 sizes of bag to choose from, and on the left is the BYOB Market Bag, a long-handled bag with a tutorial series that you can follow as you knit your bag.
Happy Plastic-free knitting!
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Top: Tim Ravenscroft, "Where the sky meets the sea"
Centre: Ferdi Rizkiyanto "What lies under"