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1Frame4Nature | Sergio Izquierdo

What YOU Can Do: 

  • We have the three “R’s”: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Notice that recycle is the third, not the first in the order. We should add one called “Refuse” at the beginning because we should really refuse using disposable plastics. When we do this, the companies will start changing their packaging.
  • Avoid the use of straws, you will only use it for some minutes and then it will be part of our environment forever.  Get a bottle of glass to carry and drink water.  Get fabric bags instead of using plastic bags.  When buying things in the supermarket choose those that are packed with eco-friendly materials like carton or glass.

–1Frame4Nature is a collection of images and stories from around the globe of your personal connection to nature. However small, when combined with the actions of others, your individual actions can impact real and tangible outcomes for the preservation of our planet. Submit your story now!

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Plastic gets stuck in the roots of the mangroves. Mangroves are very important because different fish species come here to deposit their eggs. Then new fish grow in the mangroves where they find shelter and food so when they’re old enough they swim back to the open ocean. Mangroves are heavily contaminated with plastic.

iLCP Emerging League Photographer Sergio Izquierdo‘s 1Frame4Nature: What We Do on Land Echos in Our Oceans

Plastic pollution is one of the topics I’ve been working on in the last few years. This is an issue that needs a dramatic change as soon as possible. Sometimes people come up to me and tell me that it’s a lost fight, but these kinds of wars have been won before. You can see for example how the toy industry was forced to use unleaded paint only (imagine how many toys China makes each day), and at the beginning you would think that you couldn’t go against a big monster like the toy industry. However, that battle was won and so can the one against plastics harming the environment and wildlife.

A small crab using plastic as protection. Plastic pollution on a small cay near Roatan's shore.
Wildlife is affected directly by our plastic pollution. This crab just found a new refugee, but sometimes they get trapped into larger things like plastic bottles and they die inside.

It’s easy to point a finger at the plastic industry, the markets or our governments, but the challenge is to really stand against it and make a difference—to find solutions. I had the privilege to go on two expeditions to the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), and an important part of these expeditions was to document the problems, the affected wildlife and solutions that are already being achieved. The mission was to get visual storytelling material that can help Think Beyond Plastic (an NGO that looks forward for solutions on plastic pollution issues and works in the MAR) to transmit their message to local communities, local governments and local businesses to achieve more goals in the fight against the plastic pollution issue.

Students of a public school in Guanaja, Honduras. The teacher is talking about plastic pollution and recycling.
One of the areas that Think Beyond Plastic has been focusing on is in education. This teacher is showing the importance of recycling and managing the plastics. On an island where the drinking water only comes in a bottle, recycling is very important.

In my point of view, it is the plastic industry that promotes the myth of recycling plastic. When actually, the quantity of recycled plastic is small compared to the widespread use and mass production of virgin, or newly-manufactured, plastic worldwide. Promoting recycling plastic is a way of convincing us that we are doing something right. We find false comfort in thinking it’s the perfect solution when it’s really not; it only motivates us to continue the use of disposable plastics because we think that it’ll be “recycled”.

Paradise Resort in Roatan's west side, is a big hotel that have moved successfully away from single use plastics, like plastic straws, plastic cups, etc.
Think Beyond Plastic supports hotels and resorts like Infinity Bay Hotel, to move away from disposable plastic (plastic straws, plastic cups, etc.) and they are motivating more hotels to join the movement.

You cannot recycle a plastic bottle and make it a new bottle. When producing drinking plastic bottles, only a small portion of recycled plastic can be used. And if you recycle any plastic, it will be downcycled on to a product of a lower quality. Most likely it will end sooner or later in the same place, as litter or in a landfill, like this photo in Roatan (Honduras) below, a very touristic place in the Caribbean, where the only way to get drinkable water is by buying bottled water. Where do you think that this water bottle goes after it is used? Where does all the disposable plastic go? When we throw “away” plastics, do we analyze where is that “away” place? Most of the disposable plastic from the island ends up in this dumpsite, where a very little part is recycled, but the rest stays there and is burned or floats into the ocean.

This is the Guanaja's dump site. Its forbidden to dump the trash here. There is a boat that goes 2 times per week to the main cay to get the trash, but people keep bringing the trash to this site that it's in a beach of the Island.
This is part of the dumpsite of Guanaja, a small island of Honduras. Even though it’s forbidden by the local government to dump the trash into the shores and despite that there is a boat coming from the mainland to the island three times per week to collect the trash, people still take their trash to this site on the shore.

Plastic is everywhere. I’ve been documenting expeditions measuring microplastics in the oceans with 5Gyres, and it has been shocking to find microplastics in every sample we have taken. It doesn’t matter if you take a sample near Bermuda, in the Arctic Circle or in the middle of the ocean. There is always plastic.

A boy drinking water from a bottle he found in the landfill, already used by someone. A sad scene while he is working on getting recyclable items to sell.
This is a sad scene that combines plastic pollution and social justice. They are trash pickers, and this boy is working to get money collecting plastic bottles. Meanwhile he found a plastic bottle with some water in it (for sure used before by someone), which he drinks and enjoys. This is the “away” place where all the trash goes in Roatan.

So each time we are consuming disposable plastics a lot of them will end up in nature sooner or later, and a lot of it will end up in our oceans. Many things we do like throwing “away” our trash will echo in our oceans, and plastic pollution is something that is echoing in a large scale right now. It’s never too late to start a change in our daily life, and in this case, it’s needed as soon as possible. There is always hope!

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We have so much beauty in our oceans. This nurse shark swimming in the coral reef is very near the Guanaja dumpsite. This is one example of many connections where what we do in land echoes in our oceans. Plastic pollution is carried by rivers on to lakes or to the sea, and wildlife is directly affected by it.

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