Before efficient garbage collection and our embracing modern ecological principles, the harbours of the “First World” were very much different than they are today. At the beginning of the 19th Century, and long before, factories lining the harbour’s shores poured thier byproducts directly into the water for the tide to wash away. The same held true for many of Victoria’s citizens. They discarded most everything they no longer found useful by simply tossing it into the harbour.
During those simpler days Thomas Chaplin, known for some reason as Bill Nye, eked his thin living by paddling his barrel boat about the harbour in search of bottles and any other flotsam and jetsam he might turn a profit on.
One has only to look at the volume of plastic pollution generated primarily from today’s Third World rivers and harbours to understand how far we’ve come!