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A High Price

Posted on Apr 26, 2019 in Beach Clean , Earth Day , Plastic garbage , May-June 2019

The Earth pays the price of our neglect By Zachary Mignot

A plastic straw is not free. A plastic bag is not free. The Earth pays for it. I was walking along the beach with cousins in Mykonos, Greece, when I noticed plastic everywhere, as far as the eye could see. What really blew my mind was that people were just sitting, surrounded by all this garbage. The beach looked like a landfill. From that moment on, I decided I was not going to let the Earth pay for our mistakes.

When I was about 10 years old, I was riding my bike and saw someone parked at a nearby stop sign. They opened their car door and tossed all their trash out onto the street right in front of me. I recall thinking, “Why would someone do such a thing when a hundred feet away there’s a trash can?” That is one of my earliest memories of people not thinking of the consequences of their actions when littering. It made me realize that not many people care about the Earth. My family always taught me to respect my surroundings and leave them in better condition than I found them.

I’ll never forget the day I heard about the garbage island. It is twice the size of Texas. Just imagine this collection of garbage hitting an island like Hawaii. No one thinks about these things. When people are walking down the street and throwing their litter on the ground, not one of them thinks about the chance of that single piece of garbage landing in the ocean or someplace where it could harm wildlife.

I’ve always been concerned with the idea of people littering. But that day in Greece, walking along the beach with cousins, changed my life for the better. I realized in that single moment in time that we have to change the world. I couldn’t wait around and watch the Earth die when I can do something about it. I immediately started picking up plastic. Then, every day that week in Mykonos, my cousins and I would walk down to that very same beach we visited on the first day. Together, we picked up all the garbage we could find. By the end of the week, there was not a single piece of litter anywhere to be seen. Locals were so confused about what we were doing. Some would just stare at me while I picked up the garbage that they were surrounding themselves with. Others would ask us questions like, “Why are you picking up other people’s litter?” I would answer, “If I don’t do it, then who will?” As the days went on, some locals even began to join in. That’s when I realized that one person can make a difference and I’m helping clean the Earth.

Since that trip to Greece, I have felt a strong connection with Mother Nature. Spending two months in Europe and Greece was only the beginning, but it opened my mind. Since then, at every place I visited, I paid more attention to the garbage that people threw on the ground, especially the trash that landed near the ocean, as this hits really close to my heart.

I was brought up in nature. The ocean has been a huge part of my life since day one. I spent the first years of my life traveling the oceans with my family on our sailboat. The ocean was my home. It gave us life. It’s how we survived, and I learned to respect it.

Saving the Earth will take time. But if I continue and work hard I know that gradually I will make an impact that matters. Sometimes I think about what the Earth will look like in 20 years and how much plastic will be in the ocean when my kids are old enough to go swimming. I have to stop myself and have faith that we will make the change before it is too late. I keep reminding myself that nothing disposable is free, not for the Earth at least.