This is the face of a true environmental warrior – and one of our very own. This is Derek’s story.
“Back in the 1990’s a crew of us sailed to a very remote island in Papua New Guinea. We anchored offshore so as not to frighten the islanders who had not had much contact with white people. Over 30 manmade, dug out canoes came out to investigate - only one person in that crew of natives had ever seen a white person before.
We got to know them a little and it soon became clear that they were facing life and death issues with a lack of drinking water due to little to no rainfall for two years. It was a heart-breaking scene and one that we couldn’t turn away from so we looked around for ways to help.
We were lucky to be on a large yacht that had a desalination plant so we could drink transformed sea water. After a few days of transferring fresh water to the dug out canoes we went ashore.
Now, the second part to this story is that on the windward side of the island, there was about a mile of beach that was around a metre deep in plastic waste that had moved across the Pacific. The sight of it made me sick to my stomach and ashamed of a global society that allows this to happen.
But then an idea formed in my engineer’s brain. I set about making a solar still from the plastic bottles. We brought various bottles and containers back to the village and experimented with different configurations. After a few attempts, we managed to transform sea water at the rate of one egg cup per plastic bottle. A success. The next two days were spent bringing more bottles back and setting them up. So much of our non-biodegradable waste is clogging our waterways and killing our marine life, well this time we found a way to use it to keep people alive. It was a fantastic display of a group of people coming together to save the lives of a community that desperately needed our help.
After my experience in Papua New Guinea, I now refuse to use plastic bags when they give me one in a shop. Just one bag a day saved since that day adds up to almost 7,000 bags less being used. I’m also proud to be part of a company that is committed to doing it’s part to drive down the reliance on single use plastics across its global locations. However, I urge each and every one of my Kentech family members, and anyone else who’s taken the time to read my story, to think about how they might be contributing to the plastic waste epidemic and what they can do about it.
Small steps taken by many is called a movement and movements change the world. We can all play our part. We all know how to pick up garbage, anyone can do it. We all know how to dispose of it. We know how to recycle.
Because plastic wasn’t invented until the late 19th century, and production really only took off around 1950, we have a mere 9.2 billion tons of the stuff to deal with. Of that, more than 6.9 billion tons have become waste. And of that waste, a staggering 6.3 billion tons never made it to a recycling bin—a figure that stunned the scientists who crunched the numbers in 2017 (source: National Geographic)
Let’s all take the pledge to choose our planet over plastic. Let’s start a movement. Reduce, reuse, recycle.”