Adrift by Tracey Williams

This is a really beautiful book. I borrowed it from the library expecting a fairly standard non-fiction offering, but there’s so much more to it than that – lovely colour photos throughout, thick paper (a real love of mine), and a smattering of poems,

Adrift looks in detail at the Lego which fell from the Tokio Express in 1997, and which continues to wash up along the Cornish coast. Williams speaks about her own experience of collecting the lost Lego, but also about the wider issue of plastics in the ocean. She speaks about material culture by chronicling the objects we lose in the sea, and brushes upon the impact said objects have on wildlife.

Despite being a short book – I read it in a day – it’s quite a dense one. At its core, it’s really an invitation for discussion. If there’s anyone in your like who still doesn’t feel like they need to curtail their materialism, or who doesn’t believe in the climate crisis, then this is an interesting, gentle challenge which teased at the issue with a humanising story. It never felt confrontational or intimidating.

For me, the best part of the book was the way in which it placed value on the objects washing ashore. We consider so much of what we find on the beach to be rubbish, but ultimately, these objects all still have a story. They all began somewhere and will all end somewhere, and just because they’re no longer fulfilling their original purpose, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be considered a resource again. Even the lost Lego has found a function in helping to map the tidal currents of the world. As a species, humanity is resourceful – adaptable – and we need to apply that adaptability to the issues currently impacting our world.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever found washed up on a beach? I’d love to hear about your treasures.



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