Like all living organisms, the sea also breathes. Yet today its breath is anything but easy: it appears increasingly intoxicated, and less and less capable of regenerating itself. The reasons are easy to grasp: how could you breathe well when literal islands of plastic and oil are floating all over your immense fabric? Can planet Earth ever survive without her oceans, largely damaged by human hyper-production and waste? The iconic picture, shot by Justin Hoffman, of a seahorse holding on to a Q-tip in Indonesian waters, or the plastic garbage dumps found inside beached sea mammals are among the voices increasingly finding the only answer: we can’t go on like this.
It’s beyond mere shortness of breath: something is stifling more than marine ecosystems. It is mankind’s very own conscience that is suffocating. That is why, finally, the EU has gathered together, and on December 19 of last year reached a crucial agreement. Plastic straws, cutlery, tableware, bottles, fishing nets, cigarettes... this whole intoxicating world of plastics —single-use especially— will have to be gradually banned, in favor of a new system which, by 2024, aims to radically transform our species’ attitude towards our waters. Every participating country is expected to be vigilant, and companies will have to find sustainable alternatives to their current packaging policies.
It doesn’t matter if new research comes up with tools and technologies for ocean clean-up, such as plastic-swallowing robots or fungi excreting enzymes that can synthesize polluting substances. No. This initiative by the European Union is aimed at the preservation of our immense heritage, starting with the very conscience of individuals and communities alike. In the hopes of soon being able to take advantage of the sea itself as a sustainable energy source, thanks to the huge power of its currents. Or, in other words, its breath.
Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash