Today I was down the beach walking with my 8yr old son when he turned and said to me excitedly “Mum I found a secret way through the bushes to get to a rocky outcrop. All you have to do is follow the polystyrene path!”
He said this in such a matter of fact way … just follow the polystyrene path. As I scrambled through the bushes following Finn on the path that really was mostly made up of decades old broken pieces of foam I tried to recall my secret hideouts as a child.
Of course there was some litter, in the bushland we would find rusting tin cans, some broken glass and some bits of plastic. There were things that people threw carelessly out of car windows and littered the highways but luckily I grew up just before this massive addiction to plastic, especially bottles. So when we found a secret river it was not already littered with detritus that had blown or floated in mass quantities.
One thing I do remember that was littered in abundance though was the detachable ring pull from the aluminium cans. We used to find them everywhere but then they redesigned the cans so the ring pulls now stay attached and are recycled.
What will Finn think of when he looks back on his childhood? Will he remember walking on beaches covered in trash, playing manhunt in bushes full of styrofoam? Will plastic trash be a part of his childhood that he just accepts unquestioningly? Or will things be so different in the future that a trashed beach will be an oddity?
Will we have started a real movement away from the creation of all this waste?
I hope when he and I look back in 20 years he will say to me … Remember when we lived near that beach that was always covered in trash and I used to hide with my friends in the bushes that were so full of polystyrene pieces? I’m glad people don’t use so much plastic now. We used to pick up hundreds of bottle caps each beach cleanup. Thank goodness they made them recyclable. Oh and wasn’t it weird how everyone paid for single use bottles of water every day. I can’t imagine not using a reusable bottle and refilling it when I need to. And plastic bags hahaha remember how people used them for everything! Even when they could just hold an item in their hands. I remember seeing a girl drink a McDonald’s softdrink that was inside a small plastic bag, when she sucked on the straw the plastic scrunched in her face … that was so funny! Why did people do that?