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A Plastic Ocean prompts calls for action

Monday February 05, 2018 Written by Published in Environment
Alanna Smith speaks to the crowd under the Auditorium Dome as Liam Kokaua looks on. PHOTO: Kelvin Passfield 18020221 Alanna Smith speaks to the crowd under the Auditorium Dome as Liam Kokaua looks on. PHOTO: Kelvin Passfield 18020221

Thursday night saw the screening of the impactful documentary A Plastic Ocean, which gave a glimpse into the damage that plastic is doing to the environment.


Te Ipukarea Society project officers Liam Kokaua and Alanna Smith opened the evening with brief speeches to the crowd, imploring them to curb their plastic use.

“This documentary will show you what’s happening to the ocean and the environment, and it’s pretty terrible,” Kokaua said.

“This movie really makes you think twice about how you’re living, and I hope that this inspires you to make changes for tomorrow.”

He said that a goal was to build off the impending ban on polystyrene in the Cook Islands by looking at banning single use plastic, such as plastic forks and plates.

Smith echoed his thoughts by saying that despite the small size of the country, reducing or eliminating the use of plastics could still make a difference.

“Because we are such a small nation, some people might think that any progress we make doesn’t matter,” she said.

“But we can still be leaders, especially this month during plastic-free February.”

A Plastic Ocean showed how plastic is incredibly harmful to both the sea and the land.

Filmmakers went to the bottom of the Indian Ocean and found plastic bottles that had been there for decades, yet showed no signs of degrading.

One of the more emotional moments of the film was when the filmmaker, Craig Leeson, cut open a sea bird and counted the amount of plastic items that they found inside its body.

They found over 230 pieces of plastic, which was still 40 short of the record that a seabird researcher had found inside one animal.

While the majority of the plastic waste comes from the United States and Southeast Asia, the documentary showed how Pacific countries are having to learn to co-exist with the waste.

In Fiji, a group of cooks were shown to light their fires with plastic, because it was much cheaper than kerosene.

They acknowledged that the plastic fire made them feel ill, but they had gotten used to it, and a subsequent test showed that the burning of plastic was incredibly dangerous.

In Tuvalu, residents were shown to be living on top of rubbish, as there are no alternatives due to the lack of space.

Although moments in the film were fairly chilling, such as showing how much plastic had been dumped in the ocean, it finished with a strong call to action.

Leeson said that we should always seek alternatives and that we should demand a higher standard from our suppliers.

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