by: Anouk Van De Beek
Imagine being on a sailing ship, only seeing the ocean’s vastness, working with the elements, no other distractions whatsoever. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 2014 Dutch sailor Thomas van Thiel was already ten days out on the open sea when he suddenly saw a plastic bottle floating around. He was shocked, seeing something man-made that far from civilization. He started to see plastic everywhere and decided to take action. By the ocean we unite was born - a foundation that contributes to research worldwide, creates awareness and educates and activates people, organisations and governments to make much needed changes. It only takes one decision to start a whole movement.
The Mediterranean is one of the most polluted seas of the world. If on this tiny piece of the earth along the coast we easily fill up a bag with garbage that big that we literally have to push it through the door of our campervan, we can only feel confronted with our own behaviour; this is how we are treating the earth. It is not them, it is all of us, it is everywhere. 80% of all the waste in our oceans comes from land. Start cleaning your environment whenever you can! It is not THE solution. Letting the plastics go through your own hands does make you feel part of the problem, it makes you feel responsible. You’ll start to think of solutions, preventing more plastic from ending up in the ocean by reducing it at source.
You can see the whole documentary online, for free! www.anoukvandebeek.com
In 2016 it all came together: my love for the ocean, my desire to experience filmmaking and the need I felt to communicate a message about humans and the ocean. Thomas from By The Ocean We Unite asked me to join him and tell the world about the ocean. One subject stayed with us, it was tangible, we could not neglect it: plastic. This planet is a blue planet, seen from space. What happens when the biggest part of our planet is filled up with plastic in the form of bigger plastics, micro plastics and nano plastics? Our journey had started, we gathered a team for our first sailing expedition ‘Up to Norway’. By now, so many awesome people have joined us on our mission, Ziggy Alberts being one of them. His song ‘The Ocean Song’ immediately came to my mind when I started to make ‘By the Ocean we Unite - an awareness journey into plastic pollution’.
Throwing away is something we do naturally, it is part of the cycle of life. The problem is that ‘away’ is not ‘away’ when we talk about plastic. It can easily take more than a lifetime for it to disappear. By that time it will have killed animals and polluted our environment. Even many biodegradable products will only degrade under certain circumstances and not in the open environment, let alone in the ocean, where most of the waste from land ends up anyway. On the contrary, throwing away a piece of apple or carrot will contribute to a nice compost for our plants and trees, building a healthy soil. These days I am enjoying throwing away organic material and compost it. . Start throwing away more things that benefit the earth! Grow your own food, start to plant trees and buy more plastic free products.