Environmental activation


information on marine environmental awareness, solidarity & action ...

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We see this a lot these days. Plastic bags entangled in mangrove shoots or even buried beneath sand, Gladesville, Sydney.

so what can we each do right now about the urgent issue of plastic pollution?

Plastic is everywhere in our lives. It is in our clothes, our wallets, our homes, our public services, even our own bellies. It is extremely difficult to avoid these days. Some plastic items are, ironically, even vital to our lives, health and well-being.

But there are a vast majority of items that are not and can be avoided or, at least, made far more continued use of rather than the discarding blindness we have become accustomed to over the last 100 years. It’s just about getting into the mindful not mindless mode of buying, usage, proper recycling or avoiding altogether. Knowing what to avoid and how we can each help is now more vital than ever. Exposure to the knowledge of why we must do this and then practicing consistency gives us a sense of empowerment that we're each doing something and our choices send a clear message to manufacturers and government that we are appalled by and tired of being inundated with plastic.

However, this is not enough. Not by a long shot. And it places too much blame and burden on us as individuals, rather than getting to the core of the cause - production.
Please read this recently written article (2019) by Andrew Tovey who works at Total Environment Centre and is Senior Research Consultant on Environmental Matters at Uni of Technology, Sydney (UTS). It is about a 60 minute read but very worth your time. https://medium.com/@andrewtovey/we-need-a-new-environmentalism-fc081813c10f

Whilst the decision not to buy these items falls solely on us, the decision to stop manufacturing excessive useless and single use oriented plastic products falls on the world’s manufacturers. But do you think they’ll stop without a push? No, nor do I. So this is where we all do come into the safe-guarding of the natural environment to even more profound degrees of positive impact.

Just like plastic-based items in our supermarkets are there on a ‘supply-by-demand’ basis, so it is with political parties. Political parties are steered, largely, by votes. Their policies cater for the larger number of constituents supporting them. So it remains up to us to vote in political parties who support environmental harmony as opposed to continued disharmony and destruction. I think embracing this fact is actually a very empowering choice for us, our families, the coming generations and the countless species in direct line of fire from plastic pollution - including ourselves.

In 2014 I was invited to present a 30-minute talk and physical demonstration of my embodied marine environmental practice and research (what I refer to as ‘PrimeOrderly’ for clarity’s sake), at the World Parks Congress (WPC). This is an international congress (meeting places for delegates from over 100 countries), held once in each decade and for the first time in Australia, at Sydney Olympic Park. WPC is hosted by the IUCN / ACIUCN (Australian Committee / International Union for the Conservation of Nature).

My presentation was in collaboration with invasive species scientist, Dr. Judy Fisher, who is Chair for Ecosystems and Invasive Species for the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM), incorporating Indigenous, spiritual and cultural connections to nature. This is the Thematic Group, also apart of IUCN, and has an Expert Membership from 49 countries.

After my presentation several delegates came to discuss it with me. These were very insightfully rewarding discussions - both ways it seems too. I’ve since struck up an ongoing connection with some of them, sharing stories, ongoing research and performances / presentations where possible.

Hawaii-based marine biologist and Ocean Resources Specialist at Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC), Jennifer Vander Veur, reassured me, “Dean, individuals do count. Individual scientists get a lot of very important work done that they report to a larger team on, who in turn get to work to prove the individual’s hypothesis and data and get it out to wider communications circles. Individual artists count too, absolutely! Artists, like many other groups, help spurn many of us on with your skills for taking an idea and finding diverse methods to communicate it in ways we simply cannot. Your presentation was utterly captivating because it was different and made many of us here think about our research and communication in new ways. One person can inspire 10, who can inspire 100, who in turn can inspire 1000.  Just keep it up, do not stop, we need you.”

I replied, “we need one another”.

Here are some other things we can each consider:

  • The amount of plastic we use daily can be radically reduced through simply becoming more aware of what we buy. It is a supply by demand world, so becoming more mindful of not demanding wasteful products is a very pivotal first step.

  • Say no to plastic bags and single use plastic. We need to put a wedge in between mindless shopping and mindful shopping.

  • If you see any discarded plastic anywhere pick it up. Have a spare bag handy to put it in until you find a yellow top or other recycling bin.

  • Don't not purchase any fruit and veggies wrapped in plastic (this is a very new phenomena and we need to show our disapproval through not purchasing fresh produce wrapped in plastic).

  • Chose wooden toys for your children and pets. Get resourceful, make them!

  • Find other uses for the plastic refuse - I'll soon make up a list of the creative and long term things you can do with certain plastic items in our homes.

  • Use glass jars to keep food fresh in your fridge.

  • Do not buy water in plastic bottles!

  • Numerous environmental scientists and renowned conservation agencies have said we currently have enough plastic manufactured (existing) in the world to last several lifetimes (over 400 years!), if better collection and recycling facilities and methods were immediately put in place. Expense is no excuse - it is a false economy argument!

  • Get more knowledge through watching key documentaries and encourage friends to watch them too. In fact, why not organise a dinner party around watching one or two? Become part of the discussion by facilitating it and help generate a move towards solutions.

  • And here are 5 tips from Project Aware regarding single-use plastics - https://www.projectaware.org/news/goodbye-single-use-plastic

12 minutes, 2 people, Tarban Bay, Riverglade Reserve, Hunters Hill, Sydney 2014. This was all used in my 3 day durational performance installation PlastiCities for Performances Space’s, Day For Night event at Carriageworks in 2014

18 minutes, one person, Wallumatta Bay, Gladesville, Sydney, 2014. Also used in PlastiCities.

Put pressure on all politicians and local councils to take action:

  • Take photos of plastic debris, especially large-scale and around any waterways and send them into that local council and ask what they're doing about it. The ocean refuses no river, and as such, it cannot refuse the plastic flowing within them - but we can.

  • Write to your local member and ask them to do all they can to engage in better recycling processes and to bring it to parliament as a major issue we need to address in our greater societal practices. Demand they spend the money to build far more effective recycling systems and strategies like other progressive countries are. Bring our plastic recycling percentage closer to 100% than its current 40%!

In rehearsals for new 60-minute production, Threshold:NRC. May 2018 at PACT Theatre as a double bill with choreographer Cloé Fournier and her work, Humanoid. I'm sorting out the natural debris from the plastic that was used to build and installation in the work.

Wicked ironies - 'more smart? more safe? Mortein!'. Lane Cove, Sydney. Huge amounts of micro plastics found beneath washed up natural debris. Never assume a site that appears at first clear is. Rummage a little and you'll discover that a lot more lethal plastics lie beneath.

Web Resources - Australian and international agencies / groups:

Australian Marine Conservation Society - https://www.marineconservation.org.au
Australian Marine Conservation Society - sustainable seafood guide app for smart phones - https://www.sustainableseafood.org.au
The Climate Council - https://www.climatecouncil.org,au
Living Future Institute Australia - https://living-future.org.au/biophilia-photo-competition-2018
Manly Environment Centre - http://mec.org.au
IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) - https://www.iucn.org
ACIUCN (Australian Committee for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) - http://aciucn.org.au
World Wildlife Fund Australia (WWF) - https://donate.wwf.org.au
Alana Mitchell - terrific Science journo - https://alannamitchell.com/about
Nora Bateson - Anthropologist and unorthodox system’s analyst - http://internationalbatesoninstitute.org
Project Aware - https://www.projectaware.org
Planet Ark: Recycling Near You initiative - https://recyclingnearyou.com.au/education/
Project Aware's Annual Environmental Report - https://www.projectaware.org/news/2017-impact-report
Judy Fisher PhD - http://www.swsciencecouncil.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/judie-fisher.pdf
Sea Sheperd - https://www.seashepherd.org.au
IMAS (Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies) - http://www.imas.utas.edu.au

Local NSW-based artists, Scientists, Philosophers, groups and orgs to connect with and get behind with a show of hands - signing, Reading, writing and other action:

TEC: Total Environment Centre, Sydney - https://www.tec.org.au
Living Data/UTS - https://www.livingdata.net.au
Eco Divers - https://www.manlyaustralia.com.au/11366/eco-divers
Glenn Albrecht's Psychoterratica - http://www.psychoterratica.com
Queers of Submersion - https://www.facebook.com/groups/queersofsubmersion
National Marine Research Centre Coffs Harbour - https://www.scu.edu.au/national-marine-science-centre
SURG: Solitary Islands Underwater Research Group - https://www.surg.org.au
SIMS (Sydney Institute of Marine Studies) - http://sims.org.au
Sydney Science Festival - https://sydneyscience.com.au/2019
Marina Debris - http://www.washedup.us
Responsible Runners - http://www.responsiblerunners.org
Two hands project - http://www.twohandsproject.org
Take 3 - https://www.take3.org/about

Found whilst scuba diving, Gordon's Bay, Sydney 2018

Found whilst scuba diving, Bare Island, Sydney 2018

Picking up plastic to be used in Threshold:NRC production, Wollstonecraft, Sydney, 2018

And Tambourine Bay, Sydney 2018

Gladesville Park, Sydney 2018. Between 5 of us, over 8 weeks and barely 4 hours, above and below water surface, we collected close to 460kgs of plastic! This was all used, to alarming effect, in Threshold:NRC performance about a third the way in. Photos and footage of that work coming soon. The debris has been sorted to be used again in the near future for a remount and what isn't has been taken directly to recycle stations. As mentioned in the list above.