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World Oceans Day

on June 8, 2014

(photo courtesy of Andy Gray)

One of the few problems I have living in Slovakia is that it’s so far from the sea. Not that I visited the beach all that often when I lived in the UK, but the fact that I could go there if I wanted to was nice. I like the smell of the sea, and the sound of the waves, and the feeling of sand or gravel under my feet. And I have a fondness for seals, dolphins, whales and other things that live in the sea. Not to mention an increasing concern about the state of the oceans and the fact that humans seen hell-bent on destroying them.

As I browsed Facebook this morning I noticed that 8th June is World Oceans Day. So I wondered what I could do to mark this? Well, based on the fact that what gets dumped by the river ends up in the river, and what ends up in the river probably ends up in the ocean, I decided to do a clean up of one small piece of the riverbank, around 15 minutes by bike from my house. I noticed this place the first time I cycled around the lake – I thought it would be a great place to just sit and look out over lake Slnava, except that there was so much rubbish there:


So I slapped on some factor 30 sunscreen, armed myself with a couple of plastic rubbish bags and off I went. The place was as bad as the previous time I saw it – lots of plastic bottles and other random items strewn around, and sometimes in, the water.


20 minutes later, the place looked a bit better. I couldn’t reach everything and there was far too much for me to carry, but I got most of the big stuff, and anything that looked like it might pose a danger to our local wildlife – swans, ducks etc.

Here’s a selection of what I picked up:

Plastic bottles in all sizes and a couple of nasty looking pieces of plastic


Some revolting pieces of styrofoam – the stuff was everywhere!

Other rubbish – A cookie package, a glass bottle, a beer can (I was surprised that I only found 1), some whipped cream containers, a talc can, a pet shampoo container (apparently some people shampoo their pets in dirty river water), and part of a shoe





I was lugging all of this in my two bags, which I could not balance on my bike, and wondering how the heck I was going to get it all home when, less than 5 minutes walk away I found these:
Recycling bins. Brightly coloured, easily accessible, hard to miss. And empty. Just crying out for stuff to be put in them. But people can’t be bothered – they’d prefer to dump their rubbish by the river and then complain about how no-one looks after the environment properly. I offloaded my stuff and went on my way. But I’ll be back – I’ve decided to take responsibility for this one small piece of riverbank and keep it free from other people’s rubbish to the best of my ability, by visiting a couple of times a week.

Why would I want to do this? Because I can. Because maybe if I try to minimise the amount of rubbish here people might think twice about dumping more. Because I like living in Piešt’any and think that the local environment should be respected and preserved. Because I hate to think of rubbish poisoning, injuring or killing one of the many beautiful birds that live in this area. And because if I can stop the rubbish going into the river then it won’t end up in the ocean, killing or injuring wildlife, or becoming part of one of those awful floating garbage patches.

Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd has said that if the oceans die, we die. I agree with him. And so I will continue to do my little bit to help to keep the oceans alive. Because doing nothing is not an option.
Oceans die


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