Blog: Sleep-snorkelling into a sea of rubbish?

Floating face down in a tiny Croatian harbour, snorkel and goggles strapped on, you can see scores of black prickly sea urchins and translucent fish with black striped tails. What […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Floating face down in a tiny Croatian harbour, snorkel and goggles strapped on, you can see scores of black prickly sea urchins and translucent fish with black striped tails.

What a beauty spot Croatia is: winding roads through dramatic mountains and rugged coastline. Clear turquoise water and quaint little villages. (And on one island, vineyard after vineyard…)

It’s often only on holiday we make time to appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

Nature doesn’t fit neatly into a Microsoft Outlook appointment box. You can’t schedule doses of it like a jab for flu, to keep away the urban blues.

And it’s often only on holiday, be it weekend break or two weeks in the wild, you notice how spoilt it can be by a floating plastic bag or ice lolly packets – as I did on the Dalmatian coast.

I’m a suburban girl born and bred, hardened to pavements of pounded chewing gum and crisp packets rolling like tumbleweed. Maybe that’s why I resent the encroachment of rubbish in places it shouldn’t be.

And so it was, snorkelled up, bikini-clad, I was tempted to become a self-appointed litter official, ticking off locals and tourists alike.

Except, there was no-one around to blame for those rogue shopping bag jellyfish clustered, bin-escaped flotsam and jetsam bobbing alongside me. Who knows what litterbug or overstuffed household bin they washed in from.

That’s nothing to the giant vortex of plastic particles and debris swirling in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (or more accurately, being swilled from patch to patch by the ocean currents).

Rubbish, rubbish, everywhere and not enough recycled. It overflows from household wheelies, street bins. A landfill crisis threatens in the UK.

Yes, this is a global issue. Change won’t happen overnight. But we can do more ourselves.

I remember as a teen being amazed by my German exchange family’s rigorous recyling regime. Years later I arranged for my parents to get a blue-lid wheelie and mini-green one for food scraps. Time is wasted too, when we do nothing.

The worry is, a holidaymaker’s red rage can fade as quickly as a fortnight’s carefully cultivated tan.