A month ago I went to Nurdle Hunt Event organised by Plastic Free Sea in Pui Po, HK. A sunny day served families and energetic individuals who were taking a break from the current ongoing situation worldwide.
First and foremost, what is a nurdle?
Nurdles are lentil-sized plastic pellets that are made as to the raw material for plastic productions. They will be shipped or transported around the world to manufacturers in producing plastic products for our everyday use.
(The next day event collection photo)
Ever since the throw-away culture has begun, which branded in the name of hygiene and convenience, consumers’ money spending on plastic products act upon as solid support on manufacturers of their work ethic, and in return, tonnes after tonnes of these little pellets are made to feed the market.
We know it’s easier said than done. The problems with plastics are more complex than taking out one or two factors and pointing the fingers at them. Nevertheless, the dangers of these nurdles lay under our beloved seas and the whole marine system. The concern is they are not biodegradable and the ability to absorb toxic chemicals. Because of their tiny size, nurdles are easily mistaken for food by animals; birds, fish, sea turtles just to name a few.
The effects are bioaccumulating up in the food chain. Not only they’re affecting the lives of endangered animals who already struggling to keep up their race in line, but also the microplastics are ending up in human consumption. It’s no guarantee that these tiny particles pass harmlessly through the body. Further research is needed urgently to understand better what we’re dealing with, and to prevent a possible disastrous health risk.
And here is a tale of Hong Kong nurdles spill. Nobody had predicted it. In 2012, Typhoon Vicente stormed over Hong Kong and caused seven shipping containers, which in the ship at that time, fell into the sea. Some containers broke by waves, pouring 150 tonnes of plastic pellets in the water. The responsible company, and several environmental groups had led their ways to clear the seasides, with the later joined government team and volunteers, however, the damages had been made and from time to time, somebody would find tiny pellets on the washing shore. Like us.
Enough for the grimy talk! Back to the breezy afternoon, when the sea birds were fighting over their territory near the big pile of rocks, I rolled up my pants, two feet deep in the sands, along with other volunteers, taking a sieve and surveying nurdles that lied under. Through a simple scoop, and shaking the sands out as we lifted the sieve, we had discovered some of the hidden treasures! Obviously, I long suspected some kids have supernatural powers, and it had been proven to be true, as some of the kids were yelling, “Found it.” every three minutes?!
Well, it was always a pleasure to be grouped with the people who like to fight the common cause. There are solutions we can do to reduce plastic use individually:
– wean off disposable plastics.
Take note of a day that what will you be relying on disposable plastics; from plastic straws, bags, to cutlery, etc. Then look for the reusable version. If you start doing it, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart the contributions you’re making for our societies.
You can then take notes of the plastic items you have and see how you can recycle them. For example a plastic container, you can wash and reuse it for years due to persistent durability. This in a way, you’re recycling by reusing it. While others, like plastic bottles, dispose of them to your near recycling bins.
Crazy! Who has invented it? Though it looks pretty and all, the harm is outweighed the actual use. So simply abandon the use of it and look for alternatives.
– learn more about plastics and hear community voices.
Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of plastics. The goal here is to build a well-rounded understanding and critical thinking about plastic usage, so you can find ways to solve the problems we’re facing. We need problem solvers.
And there will be more of us in the community you may realise. Go hear their thoughts and share your own. Your skills can apply to solve this common cause. What a great turnout.
– Become an activist.
You can vote for your local officials who will make good environmental impacts.
You can send out letters to suggest solutions to big companies.
You can find alternative products from better manufacturers.
You can volunteer.
You can support legislation that can make plastics use less desirable.
You can talk to your friends and family about your vision.
You can join allies.
You can use your skills in those problematic areas and create products that can benefit millions.
And if you have money, you can fund the research or the innovation, or both!
The point is, there are almost limitless ways you can do as an individual.
Reducing and adapting a zero plastic waste lifestyle is our aim and together, we’re stronger and we can accomplish.