By: Georgia Carter
The latest environmental documentary, Seaspiracy, is hitting home. Highlighting the horrific effects of overfishing, the film directed and presented by British filmmaker and activist Ali Tabrizi sheds light on the corrupt fishing industry, shares the unimaginable devastation of bycatch, and unearths the implications of fishing as a whole.
Caption: Fishing nets and crates waiting to imprison marine life.
Credit: JP Valery, Pixabay
Packed with statistics and facts, Seaspiracy is a poignant reminder of the unjust and inhumane activities worldwide, on both land and in the ocean waters. However harsh it is to witness, sometimes a true shock is all we need to be jolted into action.
Here are the main points the film brought to the foreground:
- 46% of all ocean plastic is made up of discarded fishing nets.
- More than 300 000 dolphins and whales are killed every year due to bycatch, accidental catching when using mammoth fishing nets.
- More than 30 000 sharks are killed every hour as a result of bycatch. The illegal shark fin trade also fuels this devastation.
- Labels such as ‘Dolphin Safe’ that exist to ensure tuna products don’t contain any other marine animal species, were called out for being corrupt. Apparently, workers within the company accept bribes in return for their approved label. A former employee admitted that they cannot guarantee there are no dolphin parts within tuna products.
- It’s not only the by-products of fishing that harms the ocean. Bottom trawling - the use of extremely large nets the size of 13 jumbo jet planes dragged across the ocean floor - destroys natural ocean plant life, marine life habitats, and entire ecosystems. The foliage that flourishes on the sea bed sequesters 93% of the world’s carbon dioxide. By eliminating these vital plants, CO2 is released in huge quantities. Bottom trawling deforests around 3.9 billion acres of ocean floor every year, an area far greater than that of the entire Amazon Rainforest.
- Many plastic awareness environmental organisations are on par with the fishing industry, accepting business and money in return for not disclosing the destruction of the fishing industry and the real issues the ocean is facing. While plastic is still a major problem, the consumption of fish and ongoing overfishing causes greater harm but is not brought to the forefront due to corrupt officials.
- The labour found on fishing boats is often from a cycle of slavery. Many workers are held against their will and forced to work at gunpoint or threatened to be thrown overboard. Those who object are murdered.
- There is no such thing as sustainable fishing. The only real solution is to give the ocean a break and halt the consumption of fish altogether.
Caption: Fishing gear makes up 46% of all ocean plastic pollution and acts as the main cause of death to whales and dolphins.
Credit: Barry Savage, Pexels
This intense and incredibly raw documentary is not for the faint-hearted. It piles horror onto horror to create a jigsaw puzzle of human problems, each as shocking as the last. It shakes your beliefs, values, and morals and makes you question the very essence of society and the world we live in today. But that is where the true and long-lasting motivation for change comes from.
When it comes to protecting the ocean, the next step is crystal clear - stop eating fish, stop supporting the fishing trade, and start doing your part to preserve and protect our precious ocean and the marine life it harbours.
By: Georgia Carter
Reduce, reuse, recycle - we’ve all heard this phrase many times before. But while reducing is self-explanatory, not many of us know how to reuse items that have become destined for the bin.
Below are 15 different ways you can upcycle and repurpose your waste products. From toothbrushes and plastic bags to CDs and rubber bands, there’s always something you can do instead of opting for the bin.
Tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, sweet corn, and more - some of our favourite foods are stored in tins. But while the nourishing substance entombed inside is easy to get rid of, the object that holds it is not. Instead of chucking your tins, why not turn them into little flower pots? Just give them a clean, replace the contents with soil, and you have a perfectly good pot at no cost at all. Cover them with material or patterned paper to give your new pot character and style.
Credit: Juliette Watson, Unsplash
It’s always exciting to read the current affairs on paper, but once read, where does the newspaper go? Don’t throw it away; give it a second chance by using it as a replacement for paper towels or dish rags to wash your windows. Alternatively, you can place the paper under your tablecloth to ensure the cloth doesn’t shuffle.
Credit: Absolute Vision, Unsplash
Glass bottles can become so much more than just beverage holders. Turn your bottles into rustic candle holders, slim flower vases, or add a few attachments to make a bird feeder! That way, you’re helping both the planet, its animals, and yourself.
Credit: Loli Clement, Unsplash
These unavoidable tools for hygiene are notoriously hazardous in the wild. Don’t throw away your old toothbrush. Instead, use it as a scrubbing brush for those hard-to-reach spaces like titles and vents. They also make great shoe-shiners with a bit of polish in place of toothpaste!
Credit: Amirhosen Esma Eili, Unsplash
You may not need that shirt or pair of pants anymore - but someone does. Always donate your clothes before resorting to the garbage. This not only helps save the planet but may even save a life. Furthermore, you can cut up unwearables and use them as cleaning rags for months on end.
These small little indented spaces create the perfect nooks for seedlings! If you love plants and want more without breaking the bank at the gardening centre, take some cuttings or seeds and begin their growing stages in a repurposed egg carton. Alternatively, if you’re an art enthusiast, turn your egg carton into a paint pallet!
Credit: Jade Ashton, Unsplash
These little critters are dangerous when they reach the wild. Instead of letting them get that far, why not use your empty pill bottles as little storage spaces. Turn them into impromptu sewing kits, nail boxes, or band-aid storage units.
Credit: Hayley Lawrence, Unsplash
Silica Get Packages
These tiny waste items are found sealed in with many consumer goods, with the purpose to keep them fresh. But they won’t keep your bin in good condition if thrown away, neither will they be useful in a landfill. Keep your packets and store them between important documents or between photos.
One of the world’s worst villains - the plastic bag. While reducing your consumption of this object is by far the more significant action to take, there are ways to reuse it. Save your bags for future shopping or use them as a plant moisture trap. When going on holiday, placing a paper bag beneath your plant’s pot will help the soil remain moist, thereby preventing your plant from drying up.
In this modern age, we barely use CDs anymore. But what to do with your spare CDs that you no longer have use for? Get creative, paint them up, and transform them into quirky coasters, protecting not only the environment but your countertops and table too.
These items can be used in myriad ways, and because they’re so easy to clean, they can be reused multiple times. Turn your glass jars into outside candle holders, a small plant pot, a paintbrush holder, a water cup, or simply use for storage.
Credit: Denise Johnson, Unsplash
Toilet Paper Rolls
We all have tons of toilet paper rolls that we simply throw away. Why not reuse them as organisers? If you have Christmas or fairy lights, you know they always get tangled when put away. Folder them neatly into your toilet paper roll to keep them tidy and organised.
Credit: Munro Studio, Unsplash
Rubber bands have the nasty ability to choke animals in the wild. Instead of throwing them away, use them to secure your clothes on the hanger or as a spoon stopper when using bowls to prevent your spoon from slipping into the bowl itself.
Credit: Michael Walter, Unsplash
Foil is almost impossible to recycle and does immense damage when let loose. Try washing your foil and use it again when cooking your next meal.
Credit: Elena Mozhvilo, Unsplash
We all know that plastic is one of the more significant problems our world faces. When you’re stuck with plastic you don’t know how to get rid of, cut it up into small pieces and stuff it in a milk bottle to make an eco brick. Once the bottle is filled to the brim with plastic to make a complete eco brick, it can be donated and used as cheap and effective housing material.
Credits: Harassed Mom, Pinterest
Now that you’re equipped with more ways to reuse and repurpose your everyday waste items, challenge yourself to get creative and innovative. By reducing and then reusing our rubbish, we’re not only saving money and giving these items a second chance, but we’re also giving the Earth space to breath, grow, and flourish.
Valentina Jovanovski, Ten of the best ways to reuse rubbish, The Ecologist, 2011
Melissa Breyer, 50 Ways to Reuse Your Garbage, Treehugger, 2017
Ashley, How To Reuse 13 Things You Would Normally Throw Away, My Heart Beets, 2014
Fungi are one of the most fascinating organisms on Earth, and with new discoveries constantly being made about the incredible things that fungi can achieve, it’s easy to believe that they could be the secret to correcting much of the catastrophes that human beings have caused. With an estimated 10% of fungi nestled under the scientific category of ‘discovered’, we’ve really only scratched the tip of the proverbial melting iceberg.
Besides the newly discovered plastic-eating fungi, the incredibly medicinal ones, and those that can be used to make sustainable packaging – fungi as a whole have been achieving remarkable feats for millennia.
Mycelium (fungal ‘roots’) requires rain to fruit – producing what we know as mushrooms. Mushrooms are the fruiting body of the fungus and are also what produce the spores (fungal ‘seeds’) that continue the fungal life cycle. The spores are shaped in such a way that the displacement of tiny water droplets shifts them along the ‘gills’ of the mushroom and allows them to be released as ‘aerosols’ which are picked up by the wind and taken to new spaces. Some mushrooms require the dropping of water onto their surface to ‘puff’ the spores out in large plumes. This process, requiring perfectly shaped spores, is extremely intelligent in itself - however, the intelligence of mushrooms knows no bounds!
To ensure that the spores are carried far enough away from the mushroom, the fruiting body will also create tiny convection currents (micro-scale wind) by releasing water vapour that cools the air around it. This lifts the spores up and allows them to catch higher wind currents.
The mushroom spores take it a step further when they’re in the air: the same intelligent shape attracts water to form around them, adding weight to both airborne moisture and spores. The added weight allows airborne moisture to condense and fall as rain, further facilitating more spore-release from mushrooms on the ground.
With a single mushroom able to produce 30 billion spores a day, and about 50 million tonnes of spores entering the Earth’s atmosphere each year, it’s easy to see that mushrooms have a profound effect on the hydrological cycle. Without mushrooms, the entire hydrological cycle would shift, which would result in significantly more droughts across the planet.
Fungi are one of the many organisms that are already being dramatically affected by climate change. From old growth mushrooms like the Amadou, declining due to the eradication of old growth forests, to the mushroom fruiting season doubling in England due to warming temperatures and changes in rainfall. The climate change effects seen on fungi, and the knock on effects caused by them (like faster decomposition of forest matter) are extremely diverse and difficult to predict. This is worrying because it points out that mushrooms could help save us, or they could reach a tipping point before they begin exasperating the decline in the Earth’s health, and our own chances of survival.
Fungi are undoubtedly important in all ecosystems and it is up to us to ensure that their health is supported. We can do this by:
By Kelly Steenhuisen