Odette Katrak was sitting at her computer in Bengaluru, India Googling “Imagine There’s No Plastic,” a song based on John Lennon’s “Imagine” that she had recently recorded and posted on YouTube.
What popped up was The Anna Maria Island Sun’s Coast Lines column headlined “Imagine there’s no plastic,” published July 24, 2018.
She reached out from the other side of the Earth and wrote to us.
We both noted how interesting it is that ideas often pop up at the same time across the universe.
“So delighted to read your article titled ‘Imagine there’s no plastic’ which I chanced upon just now,” she wrote. “I too am bothered about the untold amounts of plastic in our lives.”
While Bengaluru (Bangalore) and Bradenton Beach are quite different – the former has 12 million people, for starters, and it only seems like that many here during tourist season – it turns out that we also have quite a lot in common.
Bengaluru has water shortages, just as we do in Florida.
Called an eco-warrior by her local newspaper, the Deccan Chronicle, Odette’s response to water shortages was to send out one message a day during March about saving water.
India also has plastics washing up on the beaches of the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, just as we do on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and Palma Sola Bay, including plastic pieces of an oil rig that appeared on Bradenton Beach in 2015.
That was the year Odette co-founded Beautiful Bengaluru, a group working for “a clean, green, safe city and a greener planet.”
She’s a lot like the subject of The Sun’s story, Capt. Bill Brooker, who picks up plastic from Sarasota Bay during his lessons and charters.
“Today, one of my core raison d’etre’s is to eliminate plastic – not from my life (it’s gone already and we are a zero-waste family) – but from the lives of people who don’t even realize it is harming them,” she wrote.
Beautiful Bengaluru will be publishing a new website soon that will include a startling poster with a piece of plastic covering a bird’s head and long neck. The photo was taken by American photographer John Calcolosi, who gave Odette permission for it to be used for the “Imagine there’s no plastic” video.
“This is fortunate, as this stunning visual sends out a powerful message on a vital worldwide environment theme. It will be one of many teaching tools “relevant to any city in the world,” she wrote.
Maybe someday we can keep our plastic trash from washing up on each other’s shores, with a little help from our friends.
A good day to pick up plastic trash from the beach is Monday, April 22, Earth Day.
Back in 1970 when Earth Day was founded, few had any earthly idea about the things that were about to happen to the Earth. Climate change. The Exxon Valdez. Melting glaciers. Fracking. Repetitive red tides. Blue-green algae.
April 20 marks the ninth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, the worst environmental disaster in the history of the Gulf, which killed 11 people, injured 17, and killed millions of fish, marine mammals, sea turtles and shorebirds. An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, treated with a chemical dispersant that broke down the oil, but did not eliminate it.
While we didn’t see any oil wash up on local beaches, Manatee County qualified for RESTORE Act funding, fines that BP paid for the disaster.
Local RESTORE Act projects include the Gulf Shellfish Institute Sea Farm to Table project for research on shellfish production and the Coastal Watershed Management Program to address flooding and drainage problems, including nutrient runoff in local waters that worsens red tide.
To observe the Deepwater Horizon anniversary and Earth Day, help “restore” a beach and pick up some plastic from a local patch of sand.
And enjoy the Earth.