It’s time we retell our story. It's time we turn our bleak image of modern day consumerism into a ray of hope. Because there is hope. And the hope lies in ordinary people like you and me. (I’m assuming you are ordinary like me, but you may very well be much more special).
If you’ve been feeling helpless and weary about the state of the world, you are not alone. If you’ve been overcome with a feeling of powerlessness, you are more in tune with the human condition than you may be giving yourself credit for.
Several years ago climate researcher Per Espen Stoknes coined the phrase “apocalypse fatigue”. It refers to a state of helplessness in the face of massive societal problems. It highlights the tendency of many people to disengage, and to shy away from problems of insurmountable heights.
When the world says “no” to our seemingly every move, it is natural to feel paralyzed. It is natural to want to stand still and wait for the world; to wait for the people with much more clout and much more power to take action. But we must remind ourselves; we do have clout, we do have power, and we can create change!
I’d like to start this story with a group of hopeful and hope-inspiring (formerly ordinary) people called Ghost Divers. Ghost Diving is a charity organization of volunteer technical divers from around the world. Their mission is to highlight and to tackle the literally suffocating global issue of ghost nets.
What are ghost nets?
Ghost Nets are abandoned fishing lines, nets, and ropes, that have been lost or discarded at sea. These nets are primarily made from plastic and when left at sea, they can survive for decades on end. They are a menace to marine life; ensnaring fish, turtles, and marine mammals in their web. They also damage coral reefs and entire ecosystems in the process - ecosystems that contribute to almost 80% of the world’s oxygen.
It is estimated that roughly half of the mass of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from fishing lines, nets and ropes. And when the mass of nets do manage to break down in the ocean, they continue to live on as microplastics, inadvertently being consumed by marine life, and consequently, and inadvertently, being consumed by us.
Ghost divers volunteer their time in the aid of recovering this menace. They conduct missions worldwide to search for, detach, and resurface, tonnes upon tonnes of fishing waste. But where do these recovered nets go?
Thankfully, there are more hope-filled people on the horizon. Organizations around the world are dedicating their time to recycling these nets into useful products. One such group is “Healthy Sea Socks”. Healthy Sea Socks turns fishing nets into an everyday household essential - you guessed it - socks. In less than ten years, the Healthy Seas initiative has recovered and recycled more than 510,000 kilos of fishing nets, turning “waste to wear”.
That’s half a million kilos of menacing ocean pollutants which have now been converted into stylish foot warmers….
So where do we fit in? We may not be technical divers, or engineers capable of recycling plastic en masse. We’re probably just ordinary people trying not to be too much of a strain on this beautiful planet we all call home. We're just sock wearers.
But now we're sock wearers with a choice.
When we choose to consume with consciousness we can, collectively, change the outcome of our planet's future. This choice contributes to a positive web (or net) of change. And this net, much like the ghost nets of our seas, can be big, ubiquitous and powerful. Let this power be positive. Let this web of change be the change we need.