Plastic has a long lifespan. It’s probably shortening yours.

grist.org
By Paola Rosa-Aquino

It’s no secret that plastics are, well, not ideal. Do you know how long it takes for one of those pesky coffee pods to break down? 500 years i.e., the entire duration of the Roman Empire.

That lengthy lifespan of plastic spells big problems for human health. Ubiquitous marine plastic, for instance, degrades and fragments into microplastics that can seep into the food chain and end up in our bodies. That’s bad news for your hormones, as Grist’s Eve Andrews reported, since compounds in plastics can have endocrine-disrupting effects.

So far, much of the research on the impact of plastic on human health has focused on a specific moment in the plastic lifecycle — such as manufacturing, product testing, or disposal. But, according to a first-of-its-kind international report released on Tuesday, the true toll of these polymers should be calculated looking at the whole cycle of a plastic product’s existence, from wellhead to final waste.

The report, authored by the Center for International and Environmental Law in partnership with six other environmental organizations, finds that “each of those stages interacts with others, and all of them interact with the human environment and the human body in multiple, often intersecting, ways.”

The picture is pretty grim: Humans are exposed to a wide variety of toxic chemicals and microplastics along the plastic lifecycle through inhalation, ingestion, and direct skin contact. According to the report, health problems associated with plastics include numerous forms of cancers, neurological, reproductive, and developmental toxicity, diabetes, several organ malfunctions, and impact on eyes and skin.

And shifting plastics away from one area of exposure can end up exacerbating existing disparities. For instance, let’s say you don’t want plastics to end up in the ocean, so you decide to dispose of them by burning them. Those fumes create new types of harmful chemical exposures (such as toxic air emissions, ash, or wastewater). So sure, some folks will have fewer microplastics in their seafood, but now the people living near incinerators (primarily low-income communities and communities of color now) will bear the brunt of that noxious witches’ brew.

While plastic is the material du jour in part thanks to its cheap convenience, the true cost of plastics has not been reflected in the price at the till. “Plastics are harming or killing animals around the globe, contributing to climate change and keeping us dependent on fossil fuels, entering our air, water, and food supplies, and seriously jeopardizing human health throughout their lifecycle,” said Graham Forbes, Global Plastics Project Leader for Greenpeace, in a press release.

So, is there some sort of end-all-be-all solution for this? Alas, as David Azoulay, director of environmental health at CIEL pointed out in a press release, “No global instrument exists today to fully address the toxic life cycle of plastics.”

Thankfully, more and more ventures are crawling out of the woodwork to try to ameliorate the problem, from reusable packaging to … wait for it … edible packaging. I mean, would you shell out a few extra bucks to eat your food wrappers? I know I would.

https://grist.org/science/plastic-has-a-long-lifespan-its-probably-shortening-yours/

US Attorneys General Intervene In Lawsuit To Halt Seismic Testing Off Atlantic Coast

Mining Awareness +


Dolphins swimming near BP oil spill NOAA

Home » Media Center » Press Releases » March 6th 2019
Attorney General James Joins States’ Efforts To Halt Seismic Testing Off Atlantic Coast 
NEW YORK  – Attorney General Letitia James, along with 8 other attorneys general, has joined a group of non-governmental organizations’ motion to preliminarily enjoin the Trump Administration’s authorization of harassment of marine mammals via seismic air gun surveys in the Atlantic Ocean. These “seismic testing” surveys, meant to explore the ocean floor for oil and gas, will expose whales, dolphins, and porpoises to repeated sound blasts louder than 160 decibels. The surveys will threaten the health and life of hundreds of thousands of highly sensitive marine mammals, including multiple endangered or threatened species. In addition, these tests are another step toward allowing offshore drilling – an action that could result in severe and irreparable harm to coastal and…

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US Congressman Grijalva Unveils New Attempt To Ban Uranium Mining Permanently Near The Grand Canyon

Mining Awareness +

02.25.19
Grijalva unveils new attempt to ban uranium mining permanently near the Grand Canyon GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK — An Arizona lawmaker is renewing his push to halt uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, outlining a proposal Saturday that would make permanent a moratorium on new claims across 1 million acres of public lands.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva has introduced other versions of what he’s calling the “Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act” several times in recent years, but he’s likely to find stronger support this time in the Democratic-controlled House, where he is chairman of the Natural Resources Committee. 

On Saturday, he pitched the idea at the Canyon, flanked by Havasupai, Hualapai, Hopi and Navajo tribal leaders, in a building near the park’s South Rim that was packed with park visitors, tribal members and environmental advocates.

“Protecting the canyon is just, it’s overdue and it’s life-affirming,” Grijalva said, gesturing to the group. “The public wants…

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This Lent, some Christians are giving up plastic – The Washington Post

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Acts of faith

(Wilfredo Lee/AP)
By Sarah Pulliam Bailey
March 5 at 2:08 PM
Chocolate, alcohol and Twitter are some of the popular indulgences many Christians give up during the period of Lent leading up to Easter. But this year, some churches are encouraging congregants to give up plastics.
Dozens of Pennsylvania churches near Pittsburgh that belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are encouraging their churchgoers to forgo commonly discarded single-use plastics. Each week, parishioners will be encouraged to give up a different item: shopping bags, drinking straws, water bottles, Styrofoam and food wrappers.
The Rev. Sarah Rossing, pastor of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church in Youngstown, Pa., said the idea originally came from a similar challenge that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh issued this year to reduce dependence on single-use plastics such as grocery bags and Styrofoam plates.
“It’s a way to think about it as more than just a personal thing, like chocolate or alcohol that’s enjoyable,” Rossing said. “This is asking people to give up convenience … and be more intentional with things and the Earth.”
Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and runs during the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday on April 21, marks a period of time when some Christians reflect on the biblical story of Jesus’ time in the desert, where he fasted and prayed before his eventual death and resurrection. Many Catholics and some Protestants give up something during the period.
Last year, the Church of England urged its worshipers to give up single-use plastics, distributing a calendar with environmentally themed Bible verses and suggestions on how to avoid using plastics. This year, the church is encouraging congregants to go on “litter pilgrimages” where they walk together, pray together and collect litter.
The Cathedral in the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado as well as several Protestant churches in Portland adapted the Church of England’s calendar for their own use and are also encouraging parishioners to give up plastic this Lent.
The world produces more than 300 million tons of plastic each year, and scientists estimate that up to 91 percent of plastic is never recycled, threatening the environment and poisoning animals. Plastics don’t biodegrade and can stay in landfills for hundreds of years. Several cities, including Washington, have banned Styrofoam containers and are taking action to limit other single-use plastics, such as straws and grocery bags.
On Ash Wednesday, the Episcopal Church will launch a “Creation Care Pledge” inviting members to pledge to environmental activism, such as using a carbon tracker and reducing meat consumption.
Lent can serve as a time for Christians to reflect on how our ordinary way of living has become destructive of God’s creation, says Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary who has written a book on Lent.
“Christians have to resist the dominant world of commoditization in every way that we can think to do,” Brueggemann said. “Fasting is a discipline that gives energy for positive engagement with justice questions. The question is, what does it empower us to do?”
Among Christians in the United States, Catholics (61 percent) are most likely to observe Lent, according to a LifeWay Research survey in 2017. Protestants (20 percent) and Christians with evangelical beliefs (28 percent) are less likely to observe the period.
Stanley Hauerwas, a professor emeritus at Duke Divinity School who has written books on virtue, said that giving up plastic is straying too far from what Lent was meant to be.
“They’re giving up plastic as a way of doing something that seems to make the world a better place. It’s a confusion of categories,” Hauerwas said. “Giving up plastic is aimed at a different set of problems than what Lent is about. Lent is about confession of sin.”
Some churches in the Washington area have caught on to the trend of merging environmental activism and Lent, said Joelle Novey, director of the Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light. She said she didn’t initially think of tying repentance and deprivation to ecological concerns, “but the idea of taking responsibility and ‘fasting’ some aspects of our unsustainable lifestyles seems to resonate deeply in many Christian communities.”
During Lent, St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in the District will host five workshops covering solar energy, green homes, green community, green world and green yards. And instead of giving something up like chocolate, parishioners have been encouraged to take a leaf from a cardboard cutout of a tree with an environmental change to make. At Saint Mark Presbyterian Church in North Bethesda, church leaders are asking congregants to fast from single-use plastics, especially straws. And at St. John Neumann in Reston, the Catholic parish will have meatless soup suppers each Friday during Lent using washable ceramic bowls, spoons and water tumblers instead of single-use disposable plastic and paper items.
For Christians who participate in Lent, fasting from a favorite food or beverage (57 percent) and going to church (57 percent) are the most common ways for them to observe the period, according to LifeWay. Additional prayer (39 percent), giving to others (38 percent) or staying away from a bad habit (35 percent) are also popular.
The idea of giving up food, especially sugar and alcohol, since they were associated with feasts, has its roots in early Christian traditions, according to Aaron Damiani, pastor of Immanuel Anglican Church in Chicago, who wrote a book on Lent called “The Good of Giving Up.” By the late second century, Christians fasted for 40 hours, going without food and drink between the afternoon of Good Friday and morning of Easter. Two centuries later, fasting was extended to the whole Lenten season.
“One of the objections to Lent is it’s a trend, that it’s a gimmick, that it’s a flash in the pan that will not have substance to it,” said Damiani, who recommends Christians follow the early Christians in prayer, fasting and almsgiving, or giving money. “This is an ancient practice that the early church found a lot of benefit in. Participating in the life of Christ through training is not a trend.”
The Rev. James Martin, a popular author and priest who is an editor at large for America magazine, said he hasn’t heard of any Catholic parishes encouraging giving up of plastics for Lent but that he thinks it would be in the spirit of Pope Francis’s major document on the environment that came out in 2015.
“Giving up plastic would benefit the common good more than giving up chocolate,” Martin said.
Spiritual preparation for Lent is more than simply giving something up, though, Martin said.
“It’s about your relationship with God. That’s more than simply self-sacrifice,” he said. “If you’re confused about what to do for Lent, just be kind. You can give something up, but doing something positive is just as important.”

https://archive.li/bk5p5

Scott Clement contributed to this report.
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