Over many years, I have found myself spending lots of time in nature, paddling down flowing rivers, climbing mountainous ranges, exploring incredible forests, and toiling along coastlines. I have noticed the fingerprints of modern human society creep, even into the most remote regions. The urban sprawl, land clearing, roads, and pollution are evidence of our contemporary cultures. Rare is it to venture to a place that human impact is little-noticed, and the most common and truly disappointing sign is plastic pollution.
Plastic, an amazing material with uses that seem to have no end, is now utilised throughout most aspects of human existence; from medical application to kitchenware, the main material to make kayaks and drink coolers but also many single-use applications such as plastic bags, disposable face masks, take away coffee lids, and every type of food packaging imaginable. And with this array of applications, it is easy to imagine how this has become an overwhelming issue.
Most people must surely know in these modern times, that every piece of plastic created still exists! Plastic will eventually break down, but only into smaller pieces… microplastics.
As I float along twisting rivers, with reeds and trees ladened with plastic like fruit, it makes me wonder how has such a revolutionary material become such an incredibly damaging pollutant. On many river trips, I fill my boat with plastic bottles, styrofoam, and bags that float in the water or dangle from branches. once I arrive home, I fill tubes with this discarded plastic, hesitant to put it in our council recycling bin knowing that it is more likely destined for landfill and a recycling facility.
‘How can I prevent this precious material from contributing to the plastic pollution crisis plaguing the world?’
Plastic is a precious material and should be valued much more, and recycled! I’ve melted plastic before to fix holes in my kayaks, maybe I can melt waste plastic into new products? With a little research, I discovered I could! A group of people from around the world, organising under the name ‘Precious Plastic’ https://preciousplastic.com/ are tackling the plastic waste problem, making small scale and meaning recycling possible. I am now joining this movement and setting up a plastic recycling workspace. In my first attempts at recycling waste plastic, I made coasters and small dishes with very simple methods with some success and entertainment.
I have now invested in and undertaking the process of building plastic recycling machines and moulds to efficiently recycle post-consumer plastic waste into useful products such as surfboard fins and bowls. Building these machines has been an adventure in its self. I will hopefully be recycling plastic I collect while padding, household, and cafe plastic in early 2022.
This endeavor has been a huge investment in my time and in my savings, although, what better way to spend some of my time than tackling a issues that confronts me daily and that I am uncontrollably apart of. I will soon be updating the website to include my plastic recycling endeavor and will be selling products and running workshops before too long. I will also be setting up a crowdfunding platform to fund the final stages of this undertaking, so, if you want to help see me get this off the ground I will be greatly appreciative of any support.