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!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Seabird study finds Pacific plastic trash on the rise

posted in the Global Post.com by

Seabird pollution plastic trash
A seagull flies near the Golden Gate Bridge on May 24, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan /AFP/Getty Images)

Plastic pollution is on the rise in the Pacific Northwest, and seabirds and other ocean-dependent wildlife stand to lose the most, a new study has found.

Scientists tested the stomach contents of beached northern fulmars (an abundant, gull-like seabird) in British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington state to come to their conclusions about Pacifc Northwest pollution levels.

The study, conducted between 2009 and 2010 and published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, found that 92.5% of beached northern fulmars sampled had some amount of plastic in their digestive tracts. One bird had a whopping 454 pieces of plastic in its stomach.

More from GlobalPost: Plastic garbage in the ocean: There's more of it than previously estimated, report says

UBC's findings indicate that plastic levels in the Pacific ocean appear to have risen considerably, when compared to previous studies of a similar nature.

“Like the canary in the coal mine, northern fulmars are sentinels of plastic pollution in our oceans,” said Stephanie Avery-Gomm, lead author of the study, in an article on University of British Columbia's website.

“Their stomach content provides a ‘snapshot’ sample of plastic pollution from a large area of the northern Pacific Ocean.”

The researchers hope to begin monitoring plastic pollution trends on an annual basis, according to UBC.

Seabirds are notorious for their willingness to eat just about anything, including bottle caps, toothbrushes, and plastic bags. A Monterey Bay aquarium study found 97.5% of albatross chicks on a North Pacific island had plastic in their stomachs.

Seabirds aren't the only animals affected by the ever-increasing amount of plastic bobbing in world seas: plastic marine trash is thought to affect 267 species worldwide, according to a 2002 study published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin. 

Those numbers include 86 percent of all sea turtle species, 44 percent of all sea bird species, and 43 percent of marine mammal species - and the real numbers may be concealed by the inherent difficulty of observing marine wildlife.

More from GlobalPost: Hawaii becomes first state to ban plastic bags

A 2010 study described in ScienceDaily documented a disturbing-sounding "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," an area of the sea with much greater than average amounts of free-floating plastic junk. Oft-repeated reports that the patch is as big as Texas are, however, false, according to a Oregon State University expert.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium suggests sea-life conscious consumers limit their use of disposable plastic products, avoid styrofoam, and recycle as often as possible, among other eco-friendly suggestions.

Microplastics Research

From the University College of London


Welcome to the UCL 2012 iGEM project.
This is a wiki-in-progress, keep checking back for updated content and project news.

Plastic Republic - Constructing An Island From Microplastic Waste

Turning a Global Problem into a Valuable Resource: We Aim to Engineer Bacteria to Aggregate Tonnes of Microplastic Pollution into ‘Plastic Islands’, in order to Reclaim Plastic for Re-Use.


There are numerous regions of the ocean with an accumulation of microplastic pollution. Plastic is estimated to account for 60-80% of marine debris, where the majority accumulate in gyres, centres of subtropical and anti-cyclonic currents. Microplastics are a result of release of plastic waste into the oceans. The waste in the gyres enter the digestive systems of resident organism, which are affected either by the physical size of the plastic or its toxicity from adsorbing organic pollutants.


Our team came up with three modules that aim to solve the micro-plastic pollution in the marine environment. We are engineering bacteria to be able to detect and aggregate micro-plastics into larger pieces to facilitate removal. For the micro-plastics that cannot be aggregated we have an alternative approach which is to degrade the micro-plastics. We are pursuing these as three separate modules which we will assemble once we have tested their competence.

Detection Module

Receptors based detection is a first step for both aggregation and degradation. The main receptor is human oestrogen receptor that binds to different types of micro-plastics.

Aggregation Module

In the case of aggregation, receptors on bacteria detect micro-plastics and induce the production of sticky extensions of cell membrane. First this allows bacteria stick to the plastics and once covered in bacteria allows micro-plastics to stick to one another.

Degredation Module

The degradation module, which is separate from aggregation module, also comes after receptor detection. This system metabolizes the micro-plastics and their derivatives that are otherwise toxic to the environment. As a result of degradation these materials are converted into non-toxic ones.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Use Less Plastic to Save Our Oceans (A Rocking PSA About Reducing Your Impact)

Plastic Free Schools

Posted on Kokua Hawaii Foundation.org

Plastic Free Schools Hawaii

Plastic Free Schools
Kokua Hawaii Foundation’s Plastic Free Schools program provides resources, tools and trainings to educate school communities on the environmental and health benefits of going plastic free to minimize the consumption and pollution of plastics in our schools and islands. The Plastic Free Schools program aims to reduce single-use plastics on school campuses by encouraging students, faculty, and parents to make plastic free commitments to use reusable water bottles and tote bags and pack waste free lunches.

Program Overview (pdf)

How to Participate:
If you are interested in becoming a Plastic Free School check out the Educators Resource Guide and Product Resource Guide, then fill out and submit the Plastic Free Schools Registration Form.
As part of the Plastic Free Schools program you will be required to:
Select a goal:
  • Use reusable bottles
  • Use reusable shopping bags
  • Pack a waste free lunch or snacks
  • Other - Many schools are already doing wonderful things or would like to focus on other ways to reduce single use plastic use on their campuses. Please share your ideas!
Form a team: Include teachers and students from all grade levels, plus parents and administrators as well.
Hatch a plan: Think about your goal and create a plan to put it into action. Devise step-by-step instructions that will chart your path for success.
Brand your effort:  Create your own Plastic Free logo for your school by holding an art contest and make branded bottles and bags.
Spread the word:  Create a video, posters, website and other outreach materials, plan an event or school assembly, do outreach at school dances, sports events or other locations.
Share your impact:  Document and track the progress you make and report your findings. You can take photos, make a presentation or gather pre and post statistics and data. The possibilities are endless!

Download the Plastic Free Schools Registration Form and get started today!