The world of the international traveler does not always expand. In some ways it shrinks. From my perspective, Tokyo is different than Hong Kong because in Tokyo you drive on the left and walk on the left. I have to be careful because if someone is in a hurry and wants to pass me, I have to leave the right side of an escalator or sidewalk available. I was surprised when I got to Hong Kong because even though they drive on the left, they walk on the right. Hong Kong is not a subway/train city like Tokyo, maybe that is why. Although people are still in a hurry, maybe a bit less in the tropics, it is a taxi/ferry city since it is full of islands and mountains.
Whether passing on the right or the left, people everywhere I go are surprised to learn about the extent and impacts of the plastic plague of waste that is a major side effect of global modernity.
In Tokyo, Patagonia clothing stores served as the grass roots venues for two Plastic Pollution Conversations. Employees were especially interested in my information, and wanted to know about the issue of their polyester fibers polluting marine sediments, an issue which has received media attention recently. This of course fits into my point about plastic pollution being non-point source pollution. I suggested that washing machines needed better filters for the thousands of micro-plastic fibers that come out with the rinse water and predicted that a forward thinking company like Patagonia was probably going to be among the first to find alternatives to polyester that don’t pollute.
A middle school that is fighting plastic pollution with filling stations for reusable bottles also hosted my talk. Unfortunately it was during finals and the kids were exhausted from studying late. I don’t think I have seen as many nodding heads and drooping eyelids in my audiences anywhere else I have presented.
The grand finale was at Kasumigaseki, an enormous high rise complex that was once the tallest building in Tokyo. It was here that my host at Fight House (a converted apartment building used for victims left homeless by the tsunami where I stayed), had arranged a high level press conference both for the publishers of my book, PLASTIC OCEAN, in Japanese, NHK, and for the press to view the “Inconvenient Truth of Waste,” Trashed, narrated by Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons. I introduced the film with a power point presentation and took questions after the film. As a result, I got an interview with the largest daily in Japan that everybody reads, Tokyo Shinbun. It included pictures and was a great kick off for my Pacific Rim Plastic Pollution Conversation Tour.
More to follow from Tasmania and the Australian mainland.
As Jeanne Gallagher, my steadfast support on the home front likes to say: “Onward and Upward.”
– Captain Charles Moore