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When is Ocean pollution not pollution? – When its Glass!

These photographs were taken 1 year apart on the same beach, in Barbados. It took about 30 minutes each time to collect these glass shards, which explain how the little girl got her badly cut foot.

‘Sea Glass’ occurs all around the world. Quite simply, it’s the result of discarded bottles from ships which dump their waste into the oceans, along with glass included in domestic waste from countries who use rivers and oceans as their waste disposal sites. It is therefore a worldwide phenomenon occurring wherever the tides take the glass bottles to be smashed up on the rocks, with the subsequent broken glass mixing with the shingle just below the waterline. This ‘Sea Glass’ is waiting for the unwary entering the sea to tread on the glass shards, just like the young girl with the gashed foot in Barbados.

‘Sea Glass’ is found in countries all around the world, including the UK, Caribbean, USA, Mexico, Italy, Australia, and across Asia. This suggests there are millions of tonnes of it out there, indeed there are beaches in California (of all places) virtually covered in ‘Sea Glass’ due to the dumping of domestic garbage over many years.

The rest of the waste sinks into the sea, taking the pollution elsewhere, whilst the weight of the glass leaves it trapped by the tides, gradually weathering over many years into natural frosted glass. This glass is valued by collectors who make it into expensive jewellery. There are even companies around the world that specialise in the sale of ‘Sea Glass’ jewellery.

But this pollution of our oceans and beaches is on a massive scale. There must be many others, like the child in Barbados with gashes inflicted by ‘Sea Glass’. Contrast the benign approach from the public for this pollution by glass, with that accorded to pollution by plastic. Yet, both come from exactly the same source, namely ‘dumping waste at sea’. Long before the ‘Sea Glass’ ‘becomes a thing of beauty’ plastic waste will have broken down into micro-plastics, sinking into the silt at the bottom of the ocean, but is that the point?

Surely the glass and plastic dumped are equally innocent of intent to harm. Neither are at fault, this is the responsibility of the polluters. Those ships, people, countries, who deliberately contaminate our world with their waste, knowing it can be harmful to both humans and animals, flora and fauna. Yet, in the case of plastics, we somehow continue to blame its presence in inappropriate places on the material, whilst ‘Sea Glass’ pollution is described on Google as a beach gem, refined by nature!

You couldn’t make it up!

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