Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kyra Sedgwick: Call to End Plastic Pollution!

From the NRDC Blog
As part of this week’s preparatory meetings for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – known as the Rio+20 Earth Summit – to be held in Rio de Janeiro this summer, we are producing an exciting event at the UN tonight. We’re hosting a panel of leading international experts and U.N. officials on the urgent need to curb plastic pollution, which clutters our oceans and land, on a larger scale. We are calling for countries, businesses, and organizations to take immediate action to end their contribution to this plastic pollution.

Around the world, huge quantities of plastic trash – especially the packaging and to-go ware that we use in everyday life – makes its way into rivers, streams, lakes, and the ocean. For example, a recent study of the San Francisco Bay found that 100,000 trash bags-worth of litter ends up in the Bay every year – up to 80% of that is plastic.

Plastic pollution has serious consequences for the marine environment, for local economies, and potentially for human health. Many whales, seals, turtles, birds and fish are killed by eating or becoming entangled in plastic trash. Marine litter has a major cost to local coastal economies that must deal with cleaning it off of beaches and out of storm drains so that it doesn’t harm the tourism industry, or cause flooding. Plastic in the ocean doesn’t biodegrade, but it does break down into tiny particles that absorb toxins, such as persistant organic pollutants. We have documented that fish eat these toxin-soaked pellets. What is currently being studied, is whether the harmful pollutants are making their way from the pellets, into the fish tissue, where it may be eaten by humans or other predators.


I would like to add that alot of times it seems like the public tends to focus on the specific problems with plastic water bottles when in actuality, it's all the disposable plastics at large. ~Kim

Monday, March 19, 2012

San Jose Students to Beautify Their School with Plastic Trash Murals and Sculptures

Students and staff are recycling plastic caps from milk jugs, butter tubs and Gatorade bottles to be used in murals and sculptures that will beautify their school. 

City sustainability coordinator Valerie Brown watched a TED Talk a few years back and was floored at what she learned.

Oceanographer Capt. Charles Moore had discovered a expansive plankton-rich patch of floating plastic garbage at sea. It was enough plastic garbage to fill two Texases. He found that currents carry the world’s plastic trash to this common place in the Pacific Ocean, and seabirds were dying with large quantities of plastic caps in their bellies. (Watch TED Talk "Capt. Charles Moore on the seas of plastic" here.)

Brown wanted to do something. So, she asked city employees to remove the caps off everything from their milk jugs and Gatorade or soda bottles to their peanut butter jars and cream cheese or butter tubs before recycling them.

They collected a whole lot them, Brown said, and ultimately supplied Garrison-Jones Elementary School students with enough plastic caps and tops to construct a colorful underwater manatee mural a couple years ago.

Now, San Jose Elementary School’s “Green Team” is in the process of collecting plastic caps and lids for its own plastic art mural.

Green Team students have drawn pictures of what they want to create from the tops. Some of those renderings will be blown up and cut into plywood as standalone sculptures, and others will be incorporated into a mural, Janine Munns, the school family and community liaison, said.
Read Full Article

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Facts About Plastics in the Ocean and What You Need to Know About Them

Addicted to Plastic
  • To date, we use over 248,000 chemicals in commerce and we don't know which ones are harmful or safe. Why? Because the vast amount of research on plastics we use in our lives comes from the plastic industry.
  • Greenpeace estimates that of the 200 billion pounds produced annually, 10% makes it into the ocean.
  • Columbia University Researchers took all the major data sets that exist and calculated 73,878,000 pounds of plastic in the area of the gyres, which accounts for 16 million of the earth's 315 million square kilometers of ocean surface.
  • Americans alone discard 22 billion pounds of plastic a year.
  • To date, 177 species of marine life have been shown to ingest plastics and the number is likely to get much higher as more research is done.
  • 9% of base food chain fish (which represents as much as 50% of the biomass of fish in the entire ocean) sampled in the North Pacific have been shown to ingest plastics.
  • Concentrations of the chemicals in ocean-borne plastics have been shown to be up to a million times higher than the ambient sea water around it.
  • According to the Ocean Conservancy's annual report, 11% of beach litter is plastic bags.
  • Americans consume more than 100 billion plastic bags per year.
  • In 2009, the rate for plastic bag recycling is 6.1%; and in 2010, the rate is 4.3%.
  • From 2009 to 2010, plastics generated in the municipal waste stream jumped from 59,660,000 to 62,080,000 pounds.
  • Coca-Cola is one the world's largest producers of plastic waste.

Quote from Stiv Wilson:
So what's a citizen to do? Unfortunately, cutting through the spin is a difficult task, but as always, when there is a lot of money to be had, injecting oneself with a healthy dose of skepticism about the intentions of chemical companies that manipulate nature for profit is a good start. What's the best solution? Remember this: if you don't consume it in the first place, it can't damage you or the environment.

Avoiding plastics is not just a personal responsibility, it's an environmental mandate and should be as common in our global society as turning off the lights when you leave the room. There is no silver bullet solution to plastic pollution, more like a silver buckshot, but it all starts with you saying two words: "No Plastic."


Watch the Debris from Japan Tsunami Travel Across the North Pacific Gyre

Quote from: NOAAVisualizations
After the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, tons of debris was swept into the Pacific. Much of it is buoyant enough to float on the surface and can be moved around by small scale currents and large scale circulation patterns, such as the North Pacific Gyre. The gyre, bounded by the Kuroshio Current on the west, California Current on the east, and Equatorial Current on the south tends to entrain debris in the center of the Pacific basin, creating what is commonly known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." Though the bulk of the marine debris remains in the ocean for years in an area north of Hawaii, individual pieces are continually washing up on the continental and island shores that border the basin. NOAA's Marine Debris Program leads efforts to track and remove much of this existing trash, and is currently assessing the tsunami debris. Scientists as NOAA's Earths System Research Laboratory developed the debris dispersion model, shown here. Using five years of historical weather patterns, the model is used to approximate how debris will circulate across the basin.

Monday, March 5, 2012

ALERT - Tsunami Debris from Japan Headed Towards the Pacific Garbage Patch!


Quote from comlike4:

 The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is expanding. For those who do not know what this is, it is basically comprised of two floating landfills one between Hawaii and California, and the other between Hawaii and Japan. These patches have been growing exponentially, from the first few pieces of fishing nets and plastic bottles discovered 30 years ago, to two patches at least twice the size of Texas (that's a total of over one million square miles of junk). These patches are made up of plastic bottles, furniture, home appliances--pretty much anything you can think of, though 90% of the trash is plastic.

Quote from mallugirls15:

The Fukushima power plant meltdown isn't the only environmental problem created by the Japan tsunami. Refrigerators, TVs, rooftops and other items that the tsunami swept away last year are now floating in the Pacific Ocean, the Washington Post reported. Officials expect the debris to get caught in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The tsunami, which killed 15,844 people and left over 3,000 missing, also washed out 8 million tons of debris to the sea. Most of the debris sank near the shore, the Los Angeles Times reported. But the debris that didn't sink has since traveled 3,000 miles away.

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