Optimism is a latent gene for me. I tend to be not just a glass-half-empty person, but a glass-three-quarters-empty one, especially when it comes to human behavior.
Recently, though, the news that TCI is banning plastic shopping bags has given me hope. Maybe this is the kick we all need to pay more attention to that fragile island-ocean relationship.
I know there will be those who scoff and grumble. They will complain about the “inconvenience” of carrying their own reusable bags and say such a small step toward reducing plastics won’t make a difference.
I’ve heard it before. I have had the scoffers laugh at me for cutting apart the plastic rings from six-packs. When I explain how easy it would be for a bird to pick up a whole yoke from the dump, then drop it into the sea where a turtle could be caught in it and die, they say, “Yeah, what are the chances of that?”
Well, our islands are small, so the chances are good, just as the chances are high that a stray bag can be blown into the ocean and mistaken for food. Cutting the rings and not using the bag reduce the chances. It may be a small amount, but it’s still a reduction.
I am reminded of the story about the girl at the beach who is throwing washed-up starfish back into the sea. She is told her actions won’t make a difference. She thinks, picks up another starfish and tosses it back. “It made a difference for that one,” she answers.
Little by little, it does make a difference. Over the years on North Caicos, I have seen a gradual reduction of litter, an increase in beach and park cleanups, and better respect for fishing seasons and national park areas. It’s a matter of education and awareness that Earth’s regenerative powers are limited.
So let’s get together behind this. On an island, the ocean is both front yard and back yard. Let’s clean up our yard.