Two Sides of an Island

One of our favourite areas in The Bahamas are the Ragged Islands. They are quite remote, mostly uninhabited and only few sailors make it there.

Johnson Cay part of the ragged islands

Johnson Cay, The Ragged Islands, The Bahamas – Courtesy Explorer Chartbook

One of my favourite bays in The Raggeds is on Johnson Cay. The bay is wide and shallow, the view is stunning, the water is warm and crystal clear. This place invites you to forget time and just be.2014-02-04 Johnson Cay boat (1)

Tropic Views and Beauty on the West side of the Island

The other side of the island is a different story. It’s about as inviting as a garbage dump. Actually, it is a garbage dump. That side of the island is open to the East and the prevailing winds bring in tons of garbage that somehow ended up floating in the Atlantic Ocean. Plastic as far as you can see: Bottles, flip flops (but only always one!), containers of any sort, plastic bottle caps, you name it, it’s there. It’s the only time when I wish I was an engineer and could come up with an idea that would turn all that garbage into something useful. Instead, it just stays there, and the piles are getting higher and higher.

2014-02-04 Johnson Cay garbage

Piles of Garbage on the East side of the Island

For a boater, garbage is much more on our minds than usual since we have to find a way to get rid of it. It’s shocking how difficult it is to avoid packaging, how fast packaging fills a garbage bag and how hard it is to get rid of that bag appropriately. Sometimes, it actually means walking the garbage to the nearest (but ‘not-so-near’) garbage bin – after having to bring it on land in the dinghy – in the knowledge that all that plastic will simply be burned somewhere and thus will release toxic fumes into the atmosphere.

2014-02-25 Garbage Run

Rolf on Long Island, The Bahamas

You truly notice the amount of garbage you create when you have to carry it.

In January this year, the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation reported that, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. The current estimate is that there is over 165 tons of plastic in the oceans today.

“In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain 1 tonne (1.1 tons) of plastic for every 3 tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight).”[1]

“Seabirds, whales, sea turtles and other marine life are eating marine plastic pollution and dying from choking, intestinal blockage and starvation, and scientists are investigating the long-term impacts of tiny plastic particles that are eaten by fish and how this then affects human health.”[2]

2016-03 more plastic than fishWorld Economic Forum: More Plastic than Fish in the Ocean by 2050

But the report also states, that “by redesigning materials and developing new technologies, the research shows it is possible to eradicate plastic waste.”[3] It calls for an “independent coordinating” vehicle, that drives “joint, urgent, collaborative initiatives across industries”[4] and brings together consumer goods companies, plastic packaging producers, plastics manufacturers, cities, related businesses, policy-makers and non-governmental organizations. “The reason that so little action has been taken so far is that no one player within the plastics supply chain has the power to change what is a complex global industry, and it has been difficult to get everyone around the same table.”[5] The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has offered to become that coordinating vehicle.

As hopeful as that sounds, I have to admit that I kind of hoped the report would tell me some new ways of how I – as an individual – can make a difference; beyond merely trying to reduce, reuse, recycle plastic as much as possible. That, it doesn’t do. Maybe, as an individual, have a look at the participating organizations at the end of the report – quite an impressive number of well-known, global companies, worthwhile to support. And there’s always the option of raising your voice and requesting change in writing from those companies and politicians involved – the Internet and Social Media makes that pretty easy these days! Let me know if you have any other ideas!

It’s another case of enough people making an effort to make a difference…

THAT’s why we are going on the road promoting sustainable energy and transportation this summer; because future generations need our voice and our actions NOW.


[1] Jan 19, 2016;

[2] Jan 19, 2016;

[3] Jan 19, 2016;

[4] January 2016;

[5] Jan 19, 2016;

2 thoughts on “Two Sides of an Island

  1. Pingback: Four Awesome Things Happened… | Promoting Sustainable Energy

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