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A Life of Plastic


Earlier this week I met with the co-founders of a new Australian clean beach initiative called Take 3.

The 'Take 3' message is simple: take three pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach or waterway and you have made a difference.  

Marine debris, particularly plastic, has a disastrous impact in our oceans on marine life and, ultimately, us. Take 3 believe that we can greatly reduce the amount of marine debris in our oceans by preventing it from getting there in the first place and encourage people to 'Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle' and Respond by picking up other people's rubbish.

Tim Silverwood, Co-Founder and President is an environmentalist, film-maker and photographer. In July this year he embarked on a voyage sailing across the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu to Vancouver to undertake important research into floating plastics in the North Pacific Gyre, other wise known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The findings will shed light on the global distribution and biological consequences of marine debris.

Tim began his journey in Hawaii on the beach of Kamilo. Kamilo is famous for all the wrong reasons; it's here that debris accumulates from the North Pacific Gyre, plastic trash broken down in to smaller particles over time as a result of the sun's radiation and physical disturbances caused by the ocean.

When the research team placed a scientific trawl into the surface of ocean at the Gyre they found a large concentration of tiny, plastic fragments mixed in amongst organic matter like plankton. Despite the tough weather conditions, the team completed dozens of trawls and found plastic in every trawl, from recognisable items like pen caps and a toothbrush to tiny pieces including the infamous 'nurdle', the pre-production pellets used in the manufacture of plastic.

As we sat and had a coffee Tim showed me some of the tiny plastic fragments that he'd collected during his time in Hawaii. When you look all this 'stuff' you can't help but wonder what the story is behind all this trash. Where has it come from? Where has it been? Where would it go next? Just because plastic is disposable doesn't mean it goes away. It stays, it pollutes and it travels the ocean.

I really enjoyed talking to Tim, Amanda and Roberta from Take 3. Rather than encouraging people to participate in one "annual cleanup" event, Take 3, just like Project AWARE, understand that efforts to reduce waste needs to be a continual drive - not an isolated one year action.

Tim is currently traveling Australia talking about his expedition and screening the movie "Bag It".  He's just stared in One Beach, a film about creativity, optimism and keeping our beaches clean around the world. You can learn more about Take 3 and Tim Silverwood at

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