Once a year the organization “Rydd en strand” cleans beaches along the Norwegian coast. This is the Norwegian contribution to The Ocean Conservancy, an international organization that protects the marine biology and cleans coastlines. In 2012 “Rydd en strand” reported that 5137 people volunteered to help cleaning beaches in Norway. As a Norwegian, I find this low number to be a disgrace. It is our garbage and our personal responsibility to clean it up.
Governments are needed in situations of great spills and accidents. Their resources and knowledge are necessary when chemical pollution and poisonous waste must be collected. But the beaches of all countries and continents are still overflowing with litter. A great part of this garbage is personal belongings that ends up as an environmental threat. It is my argument that we are all responsible for collecting and correctly dispose of this waste. Of course governments should help, but we should look to ourselves before demanding others to pick up our litter.
Large amounts of garbage disposed of in nature will end up as marine pollution. It is not only a problem for humans, but for all living organisms. Fish die in lost fishing nets, seagulls are poisoned on styrofoam and seaweed choke under plastic bags. The problem of marine pollution is enormous. Only 15 per cent of all marine garbage ends up on beaches. The rest is dissolved in the sea or sinks to the ocean floor.
Who is responsible for the littered coastlines? All humans. Fishermen lose equipment over board in rough sea. and tourists” forget” their waste on the beach. Rivers bring our plastic bags to the ocean after camping, and the bottles we leave at the side of the road is brought to the beach by the sewer. After ending up in the ocean the problem becomes globalized. Marine pollution does not stay within national boundaries. After the tsunami hit Japan, March 2011, Japanese waste was found at beaches in Alaska and litter from Scotland is found along the Norwegian coast. Who should pick it up? We can not only point our fingers at others, but must all take our human responsibility of cleaning up our own and our collective garbage.
How can this be done? In the same fashion as all garbage is collected – by hand. Part of the solution is to have a plastic bag in your pocket and fill it every time you are at the beach or in nature at all. With a working garbage collecting system all we have to do is to put the bag in a bin. This all of us can do. It doesn't matter what background, income or level of education. What does matter is your. desire to make a difference.
'Rydd en strand' – www.ryddenstrand.no
The Ocean Conservancy - http://www.oceanconservancy.org/
Read more in “Rydd en strand's” report from 2012 at available in Norwegian only) http://ryddenstrand.no/wp/wp-content/uploads/Rapporten_fra_Strandryddedagen2012.pdf