My Garden ~ a Kiwi's take on life

Life is a lot like a garden

Strategy is to Pick up Polystyrene Particles from the Stream Bank

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Plastic pollution seemingly never stops. In my previous post, I was proud of having cleared the stream of inorganic debris and improving the water flow. And I was delight by the number of freshwater mussels. Today, I spotted and picked up clumps of white polystyrene partially obscured by flattened grass on the streambank where the native birds, Pukeko, hangout and feed on the freshwater mussels.   


Clumps picked up from flattened grass on streambank where Pukeko eat  freshwater mussels.

Kākahi, freshwater mussels, were a traditional food source for Māori. I just hope there are no white micro-particle pollutants in the stream water, home to this native filter-feeding species. I read how plastic toxins can work through the fish food chain onto our meal plates and can harm human health. Sea creatures are known to be ingesting quantities of plastic particle debris sloshing about in the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps this logic holds for the freshwater food chain? 

A quick Google search shows experts worldwide are concerned by the evidence of the mounting problem of polystyrene particles. I am now left with questions:

  • have the filter-feeding freshwater mussels ingested any nano polystyrene particles floating in the streamwater?
  • did the Pukeko peck at the clumps of polystyrene on the streambank?
  • if so, how will both species be affected?
  • did the polystyrene particles get blown by wind from a roadside rubbish pile to be swept into this small stream during a flood?

Council rubbish trucks come weekly to collect household rubbish and recycling items from the roadside. We comply with Council’s regulations. Our supermarket is committed to phasing out the use of plastic bags. I can work with that plan. Large hardware items are commonly encased in a polystyrene packing frame inside a cardboard box. That stumps me. I feel guilty taking it to the Refuse Station.


Polystyrene packing that encased a monitor

The upshot is, I do not know enough about the effect of the ingestion of polystyrene particles on our native freshwater fish and bird species. It may seem like a handful of polystyrene particles. However, I am not optimistic. All I know for now, is that I still need to pick up many nano-particles of polystyrene <3mm in diameter from the native birds’ streamside feeding area. That is the first step.

Polystyrene Particle

Nano-particle measuring <3mm picked up from the streamside

Next, I will need to check the stream waterline for polystyrene clumps caught in overhangs where the filter-feeding mussels grow. That then, is my for-now strategy.

Author: Jenny

My garden is where I lose myself, or as Himself likes to tell others, I lose either my coffee mug or wine glass. Well at least I put them on a gatepost so they are easily found. As I see it, we are here on this place to respect and to preserve nature, not to develop the land. I love how the totara trees stand in silent witness to our human activity. They keep me honest. I love to wander along the stream bank. I like being able to grow fruit and vegetables. I enjoy green open space. My son challenged me to write a blog using my garden diaries to start. Writing a blog is quite different to my diary scribblings. It is for a different audience. In every post, I have to make a conscious effort to get free of an academic style of writing. I write about things I know and do in my everyday life. I am not a photographer but the images I use are taken by me. I believe this adds veracity to my voice in each post. Learning to setup and to manage a blog has been a major effort and remains a work in progress. Who knows where this will lead. Himself and I thought we had retired, about to define this older phase of our life together. But family commitments continue. As it happens, I share this place with Himself, son and grandsons and living creatures who live charmed existences. I watch on as they serve as actors weaving their ways across the stage of daily life. Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It: All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; Always, there's something to write about life lived as I know it.

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