Plastic soup coming to town

Central Coast (NSW) environmentalist Tim Silverwood is visiting Mullumbimby and Lismore as part of a nationwide tour following his return from a research expedition to the North Pacific Gyre, aka Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Tim will be giving presentations on his experience and showing the award winning documentary 'Bag It' with the aim of raising awareness about the consequences of plastic pollution in our oceans and the simple things people can do to make their lives a little less plastic.

Tim is a co-founder of Take 3 - A Clean Beach Initiative an organisation that asks each visitor to our beaches and waterways to simply take 3 pieces of rubbish with them when they leave. Take 3 was awarded the inaugural Taronga Zoo Green Grant in April 2011.

In July 2011, Tim spent three weeks sailing over 5000km from Honolulu to Vancouver with scientists, environmentalists, artists and filmmakers as part of the expedition coordinated by Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

What he discovered is that the description of the Garbage Patch as a 'floating island' of trash is far from the truth.

"In fact it's much worse than that", said Tim. "If it were a floating island of trash it might be feasible for us to go and clean it up but unfortunately it is more like a plastic soup. Larger plastic items like bottles, bags, buckets and crates don't retain their structure for long as the sun's rays beat down and the waves toss them around, they break apart into millions and billions of plastic fragments that then remain in the ocean. They don't biodegrade though, that's the scary part."

"There is this notion that when we throw 'away' the growing amount of silly single use plastic items we use in our lives that they just go 'away'. Unfortunately, 'away' isn't always landfill or a recycling centre, a huge amount of our waste ends up in the environment and a growing amount ends up in the ocean," Tim added.

The evening will include personal accounts from Tim's adventure to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a Q & A and the Bag It film, which he has screened around Australia to rave reviews. "This film is fantastic in that it explains this major environmental issue in a light-hearted way that anyone can digest. The main character Jeb Berrier is an average Joe who first examines his own 'dependence' on plastic bags but uncovers the frightening world of plastics, the impact plastic is having on the environment, our oceans and even our own bodies. It's a must see film." Tim said.

Take 3 encourages every person to take an active role in reducing plastic pollution by taking 3 pieces of plastic away next time they visit the beach and encouraging people to reduce their dependence on single use disposable plastics.

"Take 3 are developing educational resources and ongoing initiatives to raise awareness of plastic pollution in our oceans but we need lots of help. We need funding, volunteers and pro bono help to develop our organisation. We want to make sure that every Australian knows what is happening out there and what they can do to help," Tim said.

The event in Mullumbimby is being supported by the 'Say No To Plastic Bags' group and Transition Byron Shire and will be held on Tuesday 20th March at Byron Region Community College from 6.30pm.

The event in Lismore is being proudly supported by Lismore City Council and Lismore Community Sustainability Forum and will be held at Lismore Workers Club from 7.30pm.

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