A blog set out to explore, archive & relate plastic pollution happening world-wide, while learning about on-going efforts and solutions to help break free of our addiction to single-use plastics & sharing this awareness with a community of clean water lovers everywhere!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pledge to stop using disposable produce bags at the grocery store

posted on causes.com by Jessica Dahl on April 9, 2012

I pledge to stop using the disposable produce bags at the grocery store!

The U.S. alone uses over 100 billion plastic bags and produces 31 million tons of plastic waste per year. Plastic bags are a huge problem to dispose of because each one takes up to a thousand years to degrade. Where are these billions of bags going in the meantime? 
Each square mile of the ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic, much of it drifting to the ocean floor where it will never degrade, or entangling sea animals who mistake it for food and often die trying to eat or escape from the debris.

Many people have adopted reusable grocery bags, but you can take the extra step of pledging to stop using smaller plastic bags for your produce and bulk goods.

- Buy small reusable bags (http://www.bagitmovie.com/shop.html or http://www.chicobag.com/ or http://www.reuseit.com/ have good options).

- Get crafty and try making your own bags out of old t-shirts, old cloth napkins or netting.

- Or, let your broccoli and kale and lemons and apples all hang out together in your reusable bag and in the crisper drawer. Your veggies and fruit won’t mind -- you’ll wash them before eating anyway.

By doing so, you’ll take a small action that has the big cumulative effect of reducing waste and protecting the environment.

Letter to the Editor to Ban Plastic Bags

a fantastic example of a letter supporting the ban of plastic bags posted in the bainbridgereview.org

Clearly, environment is suffering due to plastic | Letter |

February 2, 2012 · 3:53 PM

The recent proposal by Council Member Kirstin Hytopoulos that Bainbridge Island consider the banning of plastic grocery bags has evoked discussion and protest, much of it centered on the convenience of these bags, not only for items purchased at the store but for numerous uses around the home.

No one can argue that plastic bags are convenient and can be used for many purposes. But they are not a necessity.

In the 1950s, the era that many look back to as a golden age, plastic bags were unknown. Yet people went about their lives feeling no particular inconvenience. As late as the 1980s, European cities, including Vienna, provided no plastic bags for grocery or other customers.

Even in the most exclusive areas of the city, a customer was expected to bring his own bags to transport any purchases. People live very comfortably without the convenience of plastic bags.

Marine life, however, does not fare so well. Fifty plastic bags were found in the stomach of a dead whale that recently washed up on a Washington beach.

An area the size of Texas, consisting of plastic waste from throw-away cultures, now exists in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, growing every day as runaway consumption continues across the globe.

Plastic is ruining our environment, despoiling our scenery with roadway litter, choking our sea mammals with plastic bags, filling our landfills to overflowing, and poisoning our oceans and creatures that depend on the oceans for sustenance.

As plastics slowly degrade, their chemical components are released into the seas and into the sea life that consume the plastic particles, mistaking them for food. Finally these poisons return to us when we eat fish.

Does anyone think this way of life can continue? It will have to cease at some point. No matter how many well-meaning people recycle, the majority don’t. Why continue down a road that leads to even more despoliation?

I would like to see Bainbridge Island join other communities that have faced the implications of this way of doing business and have said no to plastic bags.

Abigail Nazareth, Bainbridge Island

Charles Moore TED Talk

If you have just 7 minutes, please watch this sobering video from Marine Researcher, Charles Moore.

Biography of Captain Charles Moore from www.algalita.org:

AMRF Founder and Research Coordinator
Captain Charles Moore
A third generation resident of Long Beach, California, Captain Charles Moore grew up in and on the Pacific Ocean. His father was an industrial chemist and avid sailor who took young Charles and his siblings sailing to remote destinations from Guadalupe Island to Hawaii. Charles attended the University of California at San Diego where he studied chemistry and Spanish.

After 25 years running a woodworking and finishing business, Charles founded Algalita Marine Research Foundation in 1994. In 1995 he launched his purpose-designed, aluminum-hulled research vessel, Alguita, in Hobart, Tasmania, and helped organize the Australian Government's first "Coastcare" research voyage to document anthropogenic (human-caused) contamination of Australia's east coast. Upon his return to California, he became a coordinator of the State Water Resources Control Board's Volunteer Water Monitoring Steering Committee and developed chemical and bacterial monitoring methods for the Surfrider Foundation's "Blue Water Task Force." As a member of the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project's Bight '98 steering committee, he realized the need for and provided a research vessel so that Mexican researchers from Baja California could participate for the first time in assessing the entire Southern California Bight along the coastline from Point Conception to San Diego.

Oceanographic Research Vessel Alguita and its Captain found their true calling after a 1997 yacht race to Hawaii. On his return voyage, Captain Moore veered from the usual sea route and saw an ocean he had never known. "Every time I came on deck to survey the horizon, I saw a soap bottle, bottle cap or a shard of plastic waste bobbing by. Here I was in the middle of the ocean and there was nowhere I could go to avoid the plastic." Ever since, Captain Moore has dedicated his time and resources to understanding and remediating the ocean's plastic load. Along with collaborators from the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project he developed protocols for monitoring marine and beach micro-plastics which are now used worldwide.

He is the lead author of two scientific papers published in Marine Pollution Bulletin:
  • "A Comparison of Plastic and Plankton in the North Pacific Central Gyre". Article by C.J. Moore, S.L. Moore, M.K. Leecaster, and S.B. Weisberg, Algalita Marine Research Foundation and Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Published in Marine Pollution Bulletin 42 (2001) 1297–1300.
  • "A Comparison of Neustonic Plastic and Zooplankton Abundance in Southern California’s Coastal Waters". Article by C.J. Moore, S.L. Moore, S.B. Weisberg, G.L. Lattin, and A.F. Zellers; Algalita Marine Research Foundation and Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Published in Marine Pollution Bulletin 44 (2002) 1035–1038.

The first paper documented his 1999 study, which shocked the scientific world when it found 6 times more plastic fragments by weight in the central Pacific than the associated zooplankton. His second paper found that plastic outweighs plankton by a factor of 2.5 in the near coastal surface waters of Southern California.

He also is the sole author of a review article in the October 2008 issue of Environmental Research, “Synthetic polymers in the marine environment: A rapidly increasing, long term threat,” and along with Richard Thompson, Fred vom Saal, and Shanna Swan, edited the July 27, 2009 Theme issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B titled “Plastics, the environment and human health.”

To date, Captain Moore has conducted ocean and coastal sampling for plastic fragments through more than 40,000 miles of the North Pacific Ocean, across 22 degrees of latitude and 70 degrees of longitude. His latest 10,000 mile voyage took him and his crew two-thirds of the way to Japan across the International Dateline. Captain Moore's work has been highlighted in numerous major media outlets, including ABC’s Nightline, Good Morning America, National Public Radio, Rolling Stone, and The Wall Street Journal.
February 2010

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wind At Sea Is Strangely Van Goghish, Says NASA

Posted April 10, 2012 by Robert Krulwich on NPR

Yesterday, we took a look at invisible winds suddenly made visible, streaming across the Earth. This being the blustery season, I've got more wind today, this time streaming across the sea, but looking uncannily like a van Gogh sky.
Most of the surface currents in the ocean are shaped by wind. In this visualization from the folks at NASA, the ocean is rich with lazy spirals that move in great circular sweeps (called "gyres") clockwise in the northern hemisphere, counterclockwise in the south. Think of the ocean surface here as a reflection of the winds above, a kind of watery mirror (though the spinning of the Earth, tugs of sun and moon and obstruction of continents play a part.)
I like watching the Gulf Stream roar past the tip of Florida in the beginning, all white and purposeful, heading up the North American coast. There's something playful about water and wind bumping into large land masses likeAfrica, breaking into whirligig spirals, spinning along the shore. Then there's the equator, which in this version seems almost wall-like. As the winds approach it, they flatten into jet like streams racing along a corridor.

What this map doesn't show is the newest discovery created by ocean gyres. It's called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vast, Texas-sized clump of human garbage floating in the Pacific. Created by a convergence of ocean currents and wind somewhere between Hawaii and California, it's not visible from satellites.

Apparently, a thick blanket of pop bottles and chemical sludge sinks a little below the surface so it can't be seen from above and, anyway, it turns out garbage doesn't clump in a spiral; it looks more like a Nickelodeon splat, so if we could see the Garbage Patch, it would ruin the mood created here.

This is an image of wild wind, water and spiral beauty. And what does it say about us that our first human mark is a splat that feels like we've dropped some mud onto a van Gogh painting?

Click on this video, and you'll see the dance of wind-on-water everywhere.

Thanks to reader Donald Thomas for mentioning this video yesterday; and also to Jason Kottke, the blogger who gets everything earlier than everybody. Also, Google Earth has an interactive ocean current explorer illustrated here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Waterways and Ocean Trash Data

New Data Shows What Trash is in Your Ocean and Waterways

New data released by the Ocean Conservancy highlights the need for humans to clean up their acts. The numbers, generated during the 2011 International Coastal Cleanup last September, are staggering.

With 598,076 volunteers around the world who picked up 9,184,428 pounds of trash from 20,776 miles of shorelines, rivers and lakes, it’s not surprising what is the most prolific item found – cigarette butts. If you are wondering how Ocean Conservancy knows down to the last one, how many butts there were, each volunteer is issued an inventory control sheet to keep tabs.

By now you are probably feeling a little ill, seeing just how much junk is floating around and landing on the world’s shores. But what about the damage being done to our wildlife? We know better — they don’t.

Stop Trash at the Source – You

“Our top 10 list consistently shows that what you use, eat and drink in our everyday life ends up in the ocean,” Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of Ocean Conservancy said. “We need to stop trash at its source, and the biggest impact we can have involves the choices each of us make every day. You can make a big difference for our ocean by taking personal responsibility for your own trash, and that can start with small changes, such as properly disposing of trash and choosing reusable bags, bottles and picnic supplies.”

More Facts and Figures from Ocean Conservancy

Over the past 26 years, more than nine million (9,361,453) volunteers have removed one hundred and fifty-three million (153,790,918) pounds of trash from more than three hundred and twelve thousand (312,290) miles of coastline and waterways in 153 countries and locations.

Volunteers found:

  • Enough clothing (266,997 items) to outfit every expected audience member of the London 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony.
  • Enough food packaging (940,277 pieces) to get takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the next 858 years.
  • Enough light bulbs (24,384 bulbs) to replace every light on the Eiffel Tower.
  • Enough beverage cans and glass beverage containers that, if recycled, would net $45,489.15.
  • Enough balloons (93,913) to provide one to every person expected to attend the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship.
  • Enough cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons (707,171) to host a barbeque for every student enrolled at Ohio State University, University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, and University of Kansas, to celebrate their teams’ appearance in the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.
  • In the past 26 years of cleanups, volunteers found:
  • Fifty-five million cigarettes butts, which if stacked vertically, would be as tall as 3,613 Empire State Buildings.
  • Enough glass and plastic bottles to provide every resident of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia a cold beverage on a hot summer day.
  • Enough appliances (125,156) to fill 37,434 single-axle dump trucks.
  • More than 870 thousand (870,935) diapers – enough to put one on every child born in the UK last year.
  • Enough cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons to host a picnic for 2.15 million people.
You can make a difference by choosing to avoid single-use plastic items like water bottles and picnic utensils that end up as ocean trash. If you have to smoke, don’t toss the butts, dispose of them properly in a bin, or better yet, quit!


The Coca-Cola Company has supported Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup for the past 17 years. Other national sponsors include National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Altria Group, Inc., The Dow Chemical Company, Landshark Lager, Glad, The Walt Disney Company, Brunswick Public Foundation, Teva and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ocean Conservancy is the world’s foremost advocate for the oceans. Through science-based advocacy, research, and public education, it informs, inspires and empowers people to speak and act for the oceans.

Seas of Garbage

Thursday, April 5, 2012

3 Harmful Plastics to Remove From Your Life

posted March 30, 2012 on Care2.com by

Plastic can seem pervasive at times. From food packaging and storage to flooring and household goods, plastic is everywhere. There are a number of ways that we try to eliminate plastic from our lives—taking reusable shopping bags to market, avoiding processed pre-packaged foods, eschewing the use of water bottles—but without drastic measures it can be nearly impossible to rid this non-biodegradable substance from our lives for good. Not all plastic is created equally, so if you’re picking and choosing plastics to rid from your life, start with these.

#3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride): This plastic is used to make children’s toys, shower curtains, vinyl flooring and some wallpapers. To make PVC soft and pliable, phthalates are added during the manufacturing process. Phthalates can leach of plastic products and into the human body, where they’ve been linked to a number of health problems: hormone disruption, reproductive disorders, even liver cancer. (Read more about the health concerns of phthalates.)

To avoid #3 plastics, don’t buy PVC shower curtains; opt for natural fabrics like organic cotton, linen or hemp. Don’t give young children plastic teething rings, and don’t wrap food in plastic wrap.

#6 PS (polystyrene): You’re probably most familiar with this plastic from Styrofoam. Polystyrene is made of petroleum byproducts and can be found in foam food containers, meat trays, plastic cutlery and more. Recycling polystyrene can be difficult, and because it’s so light, polystyrene is easily picked up by the wind and tossed into the ocean where it contributes to marine pollution. Polystyrene has been known to leach styrene, a possible neurotoxin and carcinogen that has been linked to hormone disruption, infertility and cancer.

To avoid #6 plastics, don’t store food in foam containers, especially fatty foods such as meat and cheese, which are more likely to absorb chemicals; try taking your own glass to-go containers when you eat out.

#7 PC (polycarbonate): This plastic encompasses all sorts of “other” plastics that don’t fit into the previous six categories. However, the most common type of #7 plastic is polycarbonate with added bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to make reusable food containers, baby bottles and reusable water bottles. When heated and washed with a strong detergent, polycarbonate plastic can break down and leach BPA. Among other health problems, BPA has been linked to hormone and reproductive system damage, early puberty, obesity and even cancer. (Learn more about the risks of BPA.)

To avoid #7 plastic, opt for glass food storage containers instead of plastic ones. If you already have plastic food storage containers, never store fatty foods in them and wash them by hand instead of putting them in the dishwasher. (Read more about food safety issues concerning plastic food storage containers.)

To learn more about the health risks of these and other plastics—and for more ways to eliminate plastic from your life—check out the article “De-Plasticize Your Life” from Natural Home & Garden.