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mb haas

light and plastic – a sadly common scene in waters across the planet

Active beach love

For some years now I have been cleaning the plastic rubbish I see when I am on the beach exercising, walking or on my way somewhere. I do this now largely without judgment or agenda but I went through a whole process before I felt able to peaceably beach clean whenever I can. When I began to notice the shear volume of rubbish from day to day seemingly waiting for me, I felt angry and despairing about the ignorance of all ‘those people’ who litter, who don’t seem to care, who perpetuate the crazy systems we live within whereby its ‘normal’ to use something once and ‘throw it away’. ‘Away where?!’ I ranted to myself, writes Marybeth Haas.

I did some research. I began reflecting on my own habits. I made art. I talked with volunteer and employed beach cleaners. I went on organised beach cleans. I spent more time on the beach just being, barefoot at low tide in any weather. I felt utterly at home there with my feet buried in the cold wet sand, gulls whirling in the wind overhead. I realised I truly love this beach and that means I genuinely want to care for it, as I do when I love a family member. It was a relief to let go of projecting out my anger and to take some responsibility without deluding myself that I am ‘saving the world’. I can clean what plastic I can as an act of loving the beach, the Earth where I live. I do not need a reward for my efforts and sometimes I can still feel despair and pain regarding the magnitude of the global plastic waste issue. I believe this discovery of love as a motivating force is a key to the challenges that currently face us locally and as a species. By allowing myself time to feel a deep sense of connection with the Earth I realised, without doubt, that I am not separate from my environment, from so-called nature. I AM nature; YOU are nature. Our choices have a reciprocal impact.

mb haas

unnatural colours – a 20 minute harvest along the tideline on Hastings beach after a storm

Some time after I made peace with my beach cleaning, I discovered ecopsychology, which, succinctly put by www.ecopsychology.org, ‘explores the synergistic relation between personal health and well-being and the health and well-being of our home, the Earth.’ Its study crosses many disciplines. At its core, it asks us to prioritise recognising that we live in constant relationship with, and in, a living planet – ’in’ because Earth’s atmosphere is integral to the life of the planet and that includes humans. It seems to me that the rubbish I see on the beach most days, as well as the overarching structures that perpetuate plastic waste, are symptoms of our collective and profound disconnection from our deepest selves and from our source of nourishment, Earth. We cannot live without Her and something in us is also dying, having lost this vital connection.

mb haas

a large bag full of mostly plastic after beach cleaning at Rye Harbour NR for only 30 minutes

There’s a lot in the media recently about plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. I am aware of regular beach clean events and individuals and organisations dedicated to facing this issue head on, all of which are necessary and wonderful, especially when done with love. Our local beaches offer us all regular opportunities to take some action to stop further rubbish entering the sea and to salvage rubbish that has been spat back at us from the sea. If you are not already, you might fall in love as I have and then the task becomes a joy and a pleasure, as natural as taking care of a beloved child, partner or parent.

Visit Hastings Arts Forum A-L Member’s show until 18 March where you can reflect on these issues further by adding your own message to an interactive beach plastic sculpture.

Information about ecopsychology in the UK

Information on plastic pollution

Surfers Against Sewage beach cleans and information

Spring Beach Clean at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Posted 11:30 Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 In: Nature

Also in: Nature

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