essays · love

Our little blue planet

My back yard.
My back yard.

I popped down for a quick swim at lunch today and the ocean invited me to lend her a hand by giving me a little (I mean tiny) plastic bag while I was in the water so I said thanks by filling it up with little bits and bringing it home.

The task took less than 10 minutes. It was the least I could offer to her as an easy exchange for a wonderful, much-needed, long-overdue, refreshing break.

The entire time, I kept thinking about 1 turtle or 1 sea bird or 1 little fish or 1 giant whale I could serve with each little piece I collected, recalling the tears streaming down my cheeks as I watched the images in A Plastic Ocean, last night — not fear, but love.

Fishing for trash
Fishing for trash

Since my arrival here in 90’s, I have never taken a bag with me and I have been quietly cleaning Hong Kong beaches on my own. Every time I took a beach break, I would pick up a plastic bag and fill it as I walked along the shore. People would join me. Others would offer me fresh fruit from their picnic baskets.

A few years ago I had stopped when the plastic bag levy meant no more plastic bags on the sand. The volume washing up on shore after spring rains hurt my heart so much I all but stopped going to the beach.

Today, as I fished for these tiny bits of plastic, I realized I had reached a point where my big picture thinking had me dismissing these small acts of kindness as rather pointless.

I feel so much better, now.

Sad, but definitely better.

Be the change.