Sign the Petition Ashley Boeka started this petition to Coca-Cola At Davos 2020, Coca-Cola’s head of sustainability, Bea Perez, said that Coca-Cola will not stop producing single-use plastics because consumers “still want them.” She went on to say that it would alienate customers and impact Coca-Cola’s bottom line. “Customers like them because they reseal and are lightweight.” Needless to say, this is a disheartening thing to hear from the person in charge of sustainability at one of the largest companies in the world. Coca-Cola is one of the worst contributors to plastic pollution, producing about three million tons of plastic packaging a year – equivalent to 200,000 bottles a minute. In 2019, it was found to be the most polluting brand in a global audit of plastic waste by the charity Break Free from Plastic. Although Coca-Cola has made a pledge to recycle as many plastic bottles as possible by 2030, they are still flagrantly contributing to the world’s plastic waste, at a time when our planet cannot afford for LITERALLY ANYONE to solely be concerned about their cash flow. Coca-Cola is one of the most profitable companies in the world – they should be able to find a new, sustainable way to bottle their products to the satisfaction of their consumers. It’s the least they can do. Tell Coca-Cola that you DO NOT want them to produce or sell plastic bottles. Sign and Share today to say NO to Coca-Cola’s Plastic Plans.
Jennet Orayeva, IAEA Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications 3 minutes
According to the UN Environment Programme, 8 million tonnes of plastic end up the world’s oceans every year, often carried there by rivers. If the trend continues, by 2050 our oceans could contain more plastic than fish.
Environmental plastic pollution has become a major ecological and societal concern. Plastic pollutants vary widely in size, from large debris, such as fishing nets and single-use plastic bags, to invisible nano-sized plastic particles. While the visible impact of large plastic debris, so-called macroplastics, in marine environments has been well documented, the potential harm caused by microplastics and even more by nanoplastics is much less clear.
Plastic particles below 5 mm in length are called microplastics. The smaller ones, with a size equal to or less than 100 nm (1/10 000 mm) are called nanoplastics. They are so tiny that one cannot see them with naked eye or even with an ordinary optical microscope.
Microplastic particles are accidentally consumed by marine organisms, which are then consumed by predator fish. Nanoplastic particles are even more toxic to living organisms as they are more likely to be absorbed through the walls of digestive tracts and thereby transported into the tissues and organs. Consequently, such plastic particles can interfere with various physiological processes, from neurotransmission to oxidative stress and immunity levels of freshwater and marine organisms.
Over the last decade, the global scientific community has invested substantial work into advancing the knowledge of the impact of plastic debris on diverse aquatic organisms. However, monitoring methods for small microplastics and nanoplastics are still in the development phase, which means that their exact concentration in the oceans remains unknown.
“This is where nuclear technology can play an important role,” added Metian. “Nuclear and isotopic techniques are already successfully used to study pollution processes. Their advantage is that they are highly sensitive and precise and can be used similarly to study small microplastic and nanoplastic movement and impact.”
At the same time, from a toxicology perspective, it is important to distinguish the toxicity of plastic particles per se from the toxicity associated with the contaminants that can become attached to them. To date, research into the effects of virgin micro and nano-sized plastic particles in freshwater and marine fish is still limited, hence the increased focus on investigating the toxicity of virgin plastics at the IAEA.
Photograph by Joel Sartore, Nat Geo Image Collection Read Caption
The spill drove a push in science and some changes in regulations, but the dangers of offshore drilling remain.
By Alejandra Borunda PUBLISHED April 20, 2020
The BP oil spill of 2010 started suddenly, explosively, and with deadly force. But the response has stretched out for years and scientists say there’s still much more we need to learn.
As a crew on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig worked to close up an exploratory oil well deep under the Gulf of Mexico, a pulse of gas shot up, buckling the drill pipe. The emergency valve designed to cap the well in case of an accident, the “blowout protector,” failed, and the gas reached the drill rig, triggering an explosion that killed 11 crewmembers.
Over the next three months, the uncapped well leaked more than 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools of oil into the Gulf’s waters, making it the biggest oil spill in United States history. The leak pumped out 12 times more oil than the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989.
U.S. Coast Guard fire boats crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon on April 21, 2010 near New Orleans. An estimated 1,000 barrels of oil a day were still leaking into the Gulf at the time. Photograph by U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images
The spill opened many people’s eyes to the risks of drilling for oil in one of the most ecologically rich, culturally important, and economically valuable parts of the world. But 10 years and billions of dollars in cleanup efforts later, many of the same risks that allowed the disaster to occur remain.
“It took the better part of six to seven years [after the disaster] to get in place the inspection of blowout preventers and rules about making drilling plans safer and putting commonsense regulations in place, but those have been rescinded,” says Ian MacDonald, a scientist at Florida State University. “So basically we’re back to where we were in 2010, in terms of regulatory environment.”
And in some ways, more is known now than ever before about the Gulf and how the spill affected its ecosystems.
“We’re just to the point now where we have enough data to recognize things we missed earlier, and there’s still a lot we don’t know,” says Samantha Joye, a marine scientist at the University of Georgia. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Can this kind of spill happen again?
About 17 percent of the U.S.’s total crude oil production comes from offshore projects in the Gulf. Pipelines—26,000 miles of them—connect wells to the processing infrastructure that lines the coast. Before plummeting demand from the coronavirus pandemic drove already-low oil prices lower, the Gulf of Mexico was producing as much crude oil as it had in years.
“Even in times of low prices like today, offshore just keeps going on,” says Gregory Upton, Jr., an energy economist at Louisiana State University.
A severely oiled brown pelican is rescued in Queen Bess Island, Louisiana, after the oil spill.Photograph by Joel Sartore, Nat Geo Image Collection
And drilling for oil in deep offshore waters is inherently dangerous for the people working the platforms, as well as potentially for the environments they’re drilling in.
“Working on the ultra-deep stuff is pretty much like working in outer space,” say Mark Davis, a water law expert at Tulane University.
But conditions on the Deepwater Horizon rig were particularly concerning. After the spill, the commission created by the Obama administration to investigate the spill reached stark, damning conclusions. Many lapses in safety had contributed to the disaster, many of which traced back to a culture both within BP and the industry more broadly that did not value safety enough.
Boats used absorbent booms to corral the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Photograph by Tyrone Turner, Nat Geo Image Collection
A new agency, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), was created to track and enforce offshore drilling safety issues, something that had been handled by the same agency that approved leases to oil companies.
“Before Deepwater, there was this mentality that had set in in the 1990s and 2000s, that the oil and gas industry, as it was going farther offshore, was capable of self-regulating,” says Matt Lee Ashley, a researcher at the Center for American Progress. “Then Deepwater happened and burst that set of assumptions.”
BSEE announced a new set of safety rules for offshore operations in 2016. Among those rules was one that required blowout protectors—the piece that had failed at Deepwater Horizon—to be inspected by a third party, rather than self-certified by the drilling companies. But many of those rules, as well as other safety practices put in place after the disaster, have been weakened in recent years. Most notably, in 2019 the Trump administration finalized rollbacksof several components of the 2016 rules, including the independent safety certification for blowout protectors and bi-weekly testing.
Inspections and safety checks by BSEE have also declined some 13 percent between 2017 and 2019 and there have been nearly 40 percent less enforcement activities in that time compared to previous years, according to Lee Ashley’s analysis.
Today, more than 50 percent of Gulf oil production comes from ultra-deep wells drilled in 4,500 feet or more of water, compared with about 4,000 feet for Deepwater Horizon. The deeper the well, the more the risk: A 2013 study showed that for every hundred feet deeper a well is drilled, the likelihood of a company self-reported incident like a spill or an injury increased by more than 8 percent.
Terry Garcia, former deputy administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a member of a major safety commission convened after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, worries that the safety changes in the years after the disaster didn’t extend broadly enough, either.
“We have this tendency to fight the last war, to prepare for the last incident that occurred,” he says. After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, for example, new laws and regulations were enacted to deal with future tanker spills. But that focus on the future didn’t happen for oil rigs, and the next disaster is unlikely to look exactly like Deepwater.
A dead black drum fish floats through oiled waters in Grand Isle, Louisiana.Photograph by Joel Sartore, Nat Geo Image Collection
Another concern, says Scott Eustis, the science director at the Louisiana-based Healthy Gulf, a group that focuses on marine protection, comes from the ever-increasing pressures of climate change. Louisiana, which has the most comprehensive climate adaptation plan in the region, is expecting the number and intensity of major hurricanes to increasewithin the next 50 years. Each storm that blows through the Gulf threatens offshore drilling infrastructure.
“Since Deepwater Horizon, we’ve taken two steps forward and one step back, and that one step back is worrying because we could very much end up in a similar situation,” says Lee Ashley.
What we know about the spill’s effects
After the spill, BP agreed to pay out more than $20 billion in penalties and damages, with around $13 billion directed toward restoration and a vast research effort in the region.
But scientists realized they lacked much of the basic background science necessary to predict where, when, and how the oil would spread or what its impacts on the region would be.
At first, it was difficult even to assess how much oil spilled from the well. Early initial assessments were low—but satellite imagery revealed that there was much more oil than had been reported. The final tally showed that the spill dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil.
Oil continued to sink to the ocean floor for more than a year, a recent study shows. It changed the amounts of sediment collecting on the bottom of the sea for years afterwardand choked them of oxygen. Immediately after the spill, the 1,300 miles of contaminated coasts saw oil concentrations 100 times higher than background levelsl even eight years later, concentrations were 10 times higher than before the spill. And In February of this year, a study showed that the footprint of the oil spread some 30 percent wider than previously estimated, potentially contaminating many more fish communities than previously thought.
“It’s astounding,” says Joye. “We underestimated so many of the impacts when we were first looking.” Only after a decade of sustained observation, she says, have the true impacts of the spill started to become clear.
The paradoxical effect of the spill is that scientists know more about the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the physics, ecology, and chemistry of oil spills, than they ever would have otherwise.
The white sand beaches of Orange Beach, Alabama are covered with oil.Photograph by Tyrone Turner, Nat Geo Image Collection
It was clear from the moment the spill began that there were many basic science questions that were unknown about this area of the world, like ocean currents and wind patterns, knowledge gaps that hindered the recovery process.
“The first fundamental issue we faced in 2010 was a chronic lack of baseline data,” says Joye.
For example, no high-resolution map of the seafloor existed, information that would have helped scientists understand where the bottom-dwelling creatures of the Gulf might be affected. Driven by the disaster, federal scientists produced a map in 2016.
“It was crucial to be able to detect and predict where the oil would go,” says Oscar Garcia Pineda, a satellite expert. In 2010, it took days to get satellite images downloaded and processed; today the response time is about 20 minutes, he says. In conjunction with studies that used drifters, boats, drones, and other techniques, scientists have deepened their understanding of the Gulf’s restless movements.
But there’s much more still to learn, say Joye and MacDonald; it’s crucial to set up long-term monitoring programs so scientists can be better prepared for the inevitable next disaster.
“We need much better oceanographic data,” says MacDonald, “so we’re not trying to model after the fact whether Florida is going to get hit by this oil spill, or if it’ll go the other way.”
And other knowledge gaps also engender risk. For example, a 2004 hurricane triggered underwater landslides at another drilling site in the Gulf. The mudslide broke the drilling rig away from the well, leaving it leaking hundreds of barrels a day. But the mudslide risk across the Gulf hasn’t yet been thoroughly mapped out.
“There was a dearth of knowledge. It’s that old adage, ‘you can’t manage what you don’t understand’—well, you can’t protect what you don’t understand,” says Garcia. Why is there drilling in the Gulf of Mexico?
The reason the Deepwater Horizon well existed in the first place? Hundreds of billions of barrels of fossil fuel energy are buried deep beneath the Gulf’s seafloor.
Oil seeps from the floor of the Gulf naturally, in small volumes. The phenomenon has been long known to people who lived and traveled along its marshy shores and coastlines. Hernan de Soto, a Spanish explorer who sailed through the Gulf in 1543, used the gummy oil his sailors collected from the beaches to patch up his wooden ships. Tribal communities gathered tar that caught in the tangled cordgrass of the sandy barrier islands and used it for art and to waterproof pots.
Offshore drilling began in the late 1930s. The first site, Louisiana’s Creole platform, squatted just a mile and a half off the coast, its wooden legs sprouting up through water 14 feet deep.
By the 1950s, engineers were gaining ambition and confidence, nudging the limits of their drilling activities deeper and deeper, following the long, broad slope of the seafloor that tilted away from the Gulf’s shores. By 2000, over 300 operating oil rigs and thousands of platforms dotted the wide, shallow slope. But they pushed further, out to where the ground drops away sharply. Geologists’ glimpses into that underground world, from seismic observations and experimental drill holes, hinted at millions of barrels of oil lurking below, if only the drillers could get to it.
The Deepwater Horizon well, drilled in 2009, pushed the limits of that deep drilling. At its creation, it was the deepest well ever drilled, punching over 35,000 feet down into the ground below the sea, in water over 4,000 feet deep.
Today New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered an executive order to end “unnecessary single-use plastic bottles.” The order prohibits city agencies from purchasing water or soda or other beverages in single-use plastic bottles and restricts the sale of plastic bottles on city property. This includes food vendors on city sidewalks, parks, and sports facilities.
New York City government previously cut plastic straws and cutlery from every city location, from schools to hospitals.
Communities all over the world are taking action to stop plastic pollution. Americans alone discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year; less than 8 percent of it gets recycled.
To learn more about the actions you can take, visit the Global Plastic Reduction Legislative Toolkit.
by: Care2 Team
recipient: National Parks Service
The Trump administration continued its assault on the environment with the recent announcement that it was reversing a 2011 policy that encouraged national parks to stop selling plastic water bottles.
While the original policy wasn’t an outright ban, 23 national parks, including Grand Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, restricted water bottle sales, helping alleviate pollution and harm to the environment and wildlife.
Please sign this petition asking the National Parks Service to allow parks to ban plastic pollution!
Plastic water bottles have no place in our national parks. We already know that the production of plastic and the subsequent pollution caused by the improper disposal of plastic severely harm our environment. On top of that, plastic is a killer to wildlife. Animals often mistake plastic bottle caps for food, resulting in intestinal blockages and other injuries.
The Trump administration needs to stop trying to turn back time. We are moving away from our reliance on plastic, and more people are carrying refillable water bottles every day. Our national parks need to focus on providing water to park visitors in ways that don’t hurt our environment or wildlife.
Please sign this petition and let the National Parks Service know that you want to keep plastic water bottles out.
Christopher Joyce Twitter
Debris blankets the north side of one of the Cocos Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean. Researchers found a huge amount of plastic both onshore and buried in the sand.
When a marine biologist from Australia traveled to a remote string of islands in the Indian Ocean to see how much plastic waste had washed up on the beaches, here’s just part of what she found: “373,000 toothbrushes and around 975,000 shoes, largely flip-flops,” says Jennifer Lavers of the University of Tasmania in Australia.
And that’s only what was on the surface.
The Cocos Keeling Islands make up barely 6 square miles of land, about 1,300 miles off the northwest coast of Australia. It was a good place to measure plastic waste because almost no one lives there. That meant the plastic debris there wasn’t local — it floated in — and no one was picking it up. It gave Lavers a good notion of just how much was bobbing around the ocean.
She was flabbergasted.
“So, more than 414 million pieces of plastic debris are estimated to be currently sitting on the Cocos Keeling Islands, weighing a remarkable 238 tons,” Lavers says.
There are 27 of these islands, most just a few acres in size. Lavers’ team of researchers studied seven of them, mostly in 2017, by marking off transects on beaches and counting all the plastic inside each transect. They multiplied that number by the total beach area of all the islands. Lavers had done this before on other remote islands. “You get to the point where you’re feeling that not much is going to surprise you anymore,” she says, “and then something does … and that something [on the Cocos Keeling Islands] was actually the amount of debris that was buried.”
Where Will Your Plastic Trash Go Now That China Doesn’t Want It?
Lavers didn’t just count the stuff on the surface, she dug down 4 inches into the sand. “What was really quite amazing was that the deeper we went,” she says, “the more plastic we were actually finding.” What happens is that the sun breaks down the plastic on the surface, and the waves pummel it into tiny pieces and drive it into the sand.
“It’s the little stuff that’s perfectly bite-sized,” Lavers says. “The stuff that fish and squid and birds and even turtles can eat.”
Brightly colored pieces of microplastic mar one of the 27 islands in the Cocos Keeling chain. Much of the plastic is hidden under the sand. The sun breaks down plastic debris, and the tiny pieces get buried in the sand.
Brightly colored pieces of microplastic mar one of the 27 islands in the Cocos Keeling chain. Much of the plastic is hidden under the sand. The sun breaks down plastic debris, and the tiny pieces get buried in the sand.
In fact, most of the plastic waste was just under the surface. “We estimated that what was hidden below the sediment was somewhere in the range of 380 million pieces of plastic,” Lavers says. But it probably won’t stay there. Eventually, she predicts, high tides or storms will carry it out to sea.
Lavers describes what her team found in the journal Scientific Reports.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that no place on the planet seems immune from plastic debris. Ecologist Chelsea Rochman at the University of Toronto studies microplastics and says different places simply have different kinds of plastic.
Microplastic Found Even In The Air In France’s Pyrenees Mountains
Take the Arctic, for example. “Contaminants are transported via air currents in addition to ocean currents,” Rochman explains. “And there [in the Arctic], we see high concentrations of small microfibers and small particles, and so, absolutely, you expect different things in different places. And what you find tells you something about where it’s coming from.”
Rochman says she’s not exactly surprised at what Lavers found. “It’s just kind of sad to kind of read about it and think, ‘Yep, OK, this is becoming, I guess, normal.’
“And we never wanted something like this to become normal.”
94,925 signatures – 5,075 signatures until 100k
In early May, governments around the world will meet in Switzerland for a vote on international rules to help force wealthy states and corporations to stop treating developing countries like dumps for their plastic rubbish.
In the past two decades, businesses in the EU, US, Japan, Mexico and Canada have been exporting millions of tonnes of plastic waste overseas. That’s how European and North American plastic ends up choking the rivers and coasts of countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.
Together, we can fight that plastic flood and environmental racism — but we need a majority of governments to back the proposal.
You know how this works. If we show governments that this vote has massive public support, we can overcome the plastic industry lobbyists and polluters.
Sign the petition to governments around the world to vote for this game-changing proposal to update international law, and to minimise marine pollution and international dumping of plastic waste.
The Basel Convention is a legally binding agreement on cross-border waste disposal signed by almost every country in the world, including the European Union. With one small tweak, proposed by Norway, countries exporting their plastic rubbish would have to get the prior informed consent of the country receiving it — so developing countries can keep shiploads of plastic pollution from landing on their shores.
But getting all 190 governments on board by May will be no easy task, especially with plastic industry lobbyists desperate to keep the status quo. That’s why we need this campaign right now.
Sign the petition to your government, and all Parties to the Basel Convention, to vote for Norway’s Proposals to amend Annexes II, VIII and IX to the Basel Convention.
Customers Who Care started this petition to Target CEO Brian Cornell and 10 others
We, Target customers, ask Target to eliminate plastic bags.
We understand this won’t be convenient to us, but it is time to act. For those of us who also shop at Costco or IKEA, we know we can survive without plastic bags.
2 million single-use plastic bags are consumed every minute. These bags often wind up in waterways and our landscape, degrading water and soil as they break down into tiny toxic bits. These bags have a massive carbon footprint.
Switching to paper won’t help. The carbon footprint of paper bags is even bigger. Paper production uses trees that could instead be absorbing carbon dioxide, releases more greenhouse gases, takes 3 times the amount of water, and results in 50 times more water pollutants. Paper bags do not breakdown faster in a landfill and take more space.
If Target provides bags for purchase, we ask it to charge a meaningful amount because this approach works. Plastic bag use fell by 90% in Ireland following a plastic bag tax of 37 cents. In Australia, 2 major retailers led by eliminating plastic bags in their stores and the country reduced plastic bag use by 80% in 3 months. In Los Angeles county, a plastic bag ban with a charge on paper bags reduced single bag use by 95%. Target’s current 5 cent discount for those bringing bags does not meaningfully curb Target’s plastic bag consumption.
We want Target to act swiftly. Target’s plastic bags are choking the earth.
Our world is choking on throwaway plastic. From our parks, to our waterways and all corners of our oceans, the devastating impacts of plastic are mounting.
Despite our best efforts to avoid it, every day we are confronted with plastic packaging. We’re told recycling is the solution — but in Canada, only 10-12% of plastic is recycled. We’re urged to clean up plastic pollution in our communities — but the trash just keeps on coming.
The only way to break free from plastic pollution is to stop it at the source. Corporations must stop churning out single-use plastic in the first place.
Five cleanup and brand audit events held across Canada found that the top five companies contributing to branded plastic pollution are Nestlé, Tim Hortons, PepsiCo., The Coca-Cola Company and McDonald’s. They produce billions of single-use plastics annually, and not one of them has a clear plan to reduce their plastic footprints.
Add your name to demand these companies’ CEOs take responsibility for the plastic pollution crisis they’ve helped create.
The Trump administration has chosen David Bernhardt to lead the Department of the Interior—the federal agency that has control over huge swaths of our ocean and all of our country’s federal offshore oil and gas resources.
Bernhardt has made clear that he intends to charge forward with vastly expanding offshore drilling—despite overwhelming bipartisan opposition from Florida to Maine, the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Please tell your Senators to vote NO and oppose Bernhardt’s nomination when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote.
Bernhardt’s past as an oil and gas industry lobbyist is concerning, and his tenure as both Deputy and Acting Secretary of the Interior has demonstrated that these concerns are well-founded. While Deputy and Acting Secretary, Bernhardt led the core political team that repeatedly adopted a pro-industry, anti-science approach to policy that benefited industry at the expense of a healthy environment.
When it comes to protecting our ocean and the communities that depend on it, the oil and gas industry cannot be allowed to call the plays.
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.
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.”
Katherine Martinko feistyredhair January 11, 2019
The balloon bubble is about to get popped as the anti-plastic movement gathers force.
When a night club in the Philippines announced that it would host an enormous balloon drop on New Year’s Eve in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record, there was international outrage. The spectacle was decried by Greenpeace Philippines as “nothing short of an arrogant and senseless enterprise” and the Climate Reality Project blasted it as “wasteful, unsustainable, and ecologically apathetic.”
The club, Cove Manila, was initially defensive, saying the event would be held indoors and, because the 130,000 balloons were made of biodegradable latex, they would be recycled afterward. But then the government’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources sent a letter to the night club, asking it to reconsider. A spokesperson urged the club to “redirect their efforts towards more sustainable, environmentally-friendly activities that the majority of Filipinos will enjoy and be proud of.” Shortly after, Cove Manila said it had voluntarily canceled the balloon drop.
This interesting news story is a sign of changing times and a glimpse of a not-so-distant future in which balloons will be reviled in much the same way as disposable plastic straws are now. This night club is not the only place where balloon-centered events are no longer allowed. Last year Clemson University announced it would end the tradition of releasing 10,000 balloons into the air before football games. The anti-balloon website Balloons Blow has an ongoing list of “balloon releases averted.” The Associated Press describes other newly implemented limitations:
“In Virginia, a campaign that urges alternatives to balloon releases at weddings is expanding. And a town in Rhode Island outright banned the sale of all balloons earlier this year, citing the harm to marine life.”
What’s unique about balloons, however, is that there’s no obvious replacement for them, unlike straws, which can be recreated in paper, metal or glass and work in exactly the same way. Balloons – unless we go back to the days of inflated pig bladders… just kidding! – must cease to exist for now, and we have to learn that it’s still possible to have a fun party without them. (The Cove Manila people did. They still had an awesome New Year’s Eve bash.)
It’s important, too, not to fall for the greenwashed ‘biodegradable latex’ label because it means very little. As Quartz reported about the Cove Manila controversy, “Purchasing, transporting, inflating, and discarding 130,000 rubber orbs, even if they are made from earth-friendly latex, results in significant waste.” While latex is biodegradable in theory, every balloon reacts differently depending on where it lands. And you can’t avoid the fact that you’re still sending trash up into the air to fall back to earth at some point, to the detriment of wildlife. There’s no way to make this OK other than to stop doing it. (Read more about why latex balloons are not environmentally friendly.)
I predict this is something we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the next year. First it was the Straw Wars; next up are the Balloon Battles.
Katherine Martinko feistyredhair February 11, 2019
Companies will do anything to protect their brand – maybe even redesign packaging.
Taking a stance against a giant, when you’re only a normal-sized human, requires sharp strategy. Thankfully, Froilan Grate has plenty of that.
Grate is a community activist in the Philippines who has made it his mission to fight the plastic pollution that is overwhelming his homeland. It all started when he moved to the capital for school at age 18. In an interview with NPR, he described the shock of entering Manila Bay and seeing garbage everywhere.
“He felt sick. ‘The contrast of where I grew up, beautiful white sand beaches, clear water, and arriving in Manila where it’s black water with countless plastic, that was shocking to me.’ His first thought at the time, he says, was that his own island would someday end up strewn with plastic as well. His next one was: What can I do to stop it?”
For years Grate headed up local initiatives to improve recycling practices and infrastructure. He spoke to groups about lifestyle changes that would cut down on waste, and joined an organization called the Mother Earth Foundation, working with waste-pickers to get formal employment and better working conditions.
Despite his efforts, every tide brought a fresh wave of garbage to Filipino shores. Grate said, “You realize that despite everything that you do, you really aren’t solving the problem.” He understood that cleanup efforts would never get at the root problem.
That’s when an idea occurred to him. Rather than just collecting plastic trash and removing it to a landfill site, why not leverage the information that came with all that trash and use it to pressure manufacturers to change? That’s when Grate began conducting brand audits – recording the names of the companies that made each individual item and publicize it.
“They feel there is value in brand,” Grate says of the companies. Consumers trust brands. “We wanted to use it against them.”
NPR writes, “It’s dirty work — eight days of community trash spread in piles on the concrete floor of a fenced-in outdoor basketball court. It stinks; workers wear masks and gloves.” But the effort paid off. Suddenly the power imbalance had shifted. No longer were the bigwigs in corporate offices impervious to the complaints of people on the ground, the same people who had to live daily with the tangible consequences of poor design.
Grate was invited to Washington, D.C., to sit down and talk with the heads of the same companies he was publicly shaming about the problem of plastic pollution. NPR asked Grate if the brand audits had triggered the meeting:
“They weren’t happy about it,” he said of the audits. “And they have questions,” he added, about how his group does them. “But I would say this: The brand audits contributed to the pace of the discussion that’s happening right now.”
Shame is not always an effective tool for change. In personal relationships, it usually causes people to shut down and become defensive. But as in this case, when the power imbalance between corporation and consumer is so great, and when the consequences of a company’s actions are actively harming the consumer and undermining their quality of life, shame can be necessary and justifiable.
Progress is happening slowly. Look at British chip-maker Walker’s, who was pressured by a social media-driven campaign into redesigning its non-recyclable bags. Unilever and Nestlé have both signed on to the Loop project that will offer limited products in refillable packaging.
This holds a valuable lesson for all of us. While not littering remains a decent rule by which to live, we need to shift our focus to the drivers of this waste and not allow them to blame us for not picking it up or sorting it properly. If packaging cannot be recycled or composted, it shouldn’t be used. These companies have the resources with which to develop better alternatives, but up until now they’ve lacked the motivation to do so.
Shame, however, can be a powerful motivator, so don’t hesitate to point fingers when it comes to plastic. Take a page out of Grate’s book and call them out on social media. Post pictures and ask questions. Demand better. We deserve it, and so does our planet.
Companies will do anything to protect their brand – maybe even redesign packaging.
Katherine Martinko feistyredhair February 22, 2019
At no point does it ever stop harming us.
In case you had any doubts about how bad plastic really is, a new study out of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) has just revealed that plastic is toxic at every stage of its life cycle.
The 75-page document is a sobering read. It points out the shortsightedness of focusing on specific moments in the plastic life cycle, rather than the entire picture. We know that oil refining, microplastics, plastic packaging, and recycling are huge problems on their own, but put them all together and you have an even more dire situation on your hands.
The report reveals “numerous exposure routes through which human health is impacted at each stage”. In other words, quitting single-use disposables and living zero-waste doesn’t mean you’re safe. Your health – and that of your family – continues to be affected by plastic in ways you might not even realize. These include:
Extraction and Transportation of fossil feedstocks for plastic, which releases toxic chemicals like benzene, VOCs, and 170+ fracking fluid chemicals into the air. These are inhaled or ingested, leading to immune dysfunction, cancer, and neuro-, reproductive, and developmental toxicity, among other things.
Refining and Manufacturing of plastic resins and feedstocks is linked to “impairment of the nervous system, reproductive and developmental problems, cancer, leukemia, and genetic impacts like low birth weight.”
Consumer use of plastic products exposes users to countless unnamed chemicals (which are not listed as ingredients), heavy metals, carcinogens, and microplastics. People ingest, inhale, and touch these to their skin.
Plastic waste management, especially “waste to energy” incineration, releases toxic chemicals into the air, which are absorbed by soil, air, and water, causing indirect harm to people and communities nearby (and sometimes far away).
Fragmenting of plastic results in microplastic pieces entering the environment and human body, leading to “an array of health impacts, including inflammation, genotoxicity, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and necrosis.”
Degradation of plastic results in more chemical leaching. “As plastic particles degrade, new surface areas are exposed, allowing continued leaching of additives from the core to the surface of the particle in the environment and the human body.”
Where does one even begin with this information?
In a way, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. We know plastic is an environmental scourge with real health implications, but to see it analyzed so comprehensively makes the issue more urgent than ever.
The study authors call for plastic exposure to be treated as a human rights issue, saying we need laws that require accurate information about what goes into plastic products at all stages of manufacture and transparency in the development of solutions.
Von Hernandez, global coordinator for the Break Free From Plastic movement, is quoted in the report’s executive summary:
“It is shocking how the existing regulatory regime continues to give the whole plastic industrial complex the license to play Russian roulette with our lives and our health. Plastic is lethal, and this report shows us why.”
Dire as it may be, we cannot let it overwhelm or discourage us. Knowledge is power, as the saying goes, and this report offers precisely that. Individuals, communities, health care providers, and policy makers can use it as an effective negotiating tool when it comes to confronting the companies and corporations that continue to churn out plastic at high rates. And confront them we must – especially now that we know what’s at stake.
Tavish Campbell attaches a GPS tracker onto ghost fishing nets in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Justin Hofman / Greenpeace
By Graham Forbes
Corporations have created a plastic monster. More than 90 percent of the plastics ever produced have not been recycled, yet corporations have plans to dramatically increase their production of plastic packaging. With plastic production set to quadruple by 2050, recycling can never be enough to solve this problem.
But the global movement to hold these corporations accountable is growing. More than 3 million of you have joined us in urging companies to stop polluting our planet with throwaway plastic. And together with over 1,400 allies in the global Break Free From Plastic movement, we conducted 239 cleanups in 42 countries to identify the biggest corporate polluters.
In October, Greenpeace International released the Crisis of Convenience report, based on a survey to 11 of the biggest fast-moving consumer goods companies globally. Despite some of these companies publicly signing a voluntary, non-binding commitment to tackle the crisis, the report revealed that none of the companies surveyed currently have comprehensive plans to move away from single-use packaging; on the contrary, most of them have plans to increase the overall amount of plastic packaging they produce.
So now we are deploying the Greenpeace ships; the Rainbow Warrior and the Beluga, to tell the global story of where plastic pollution really starts and ends. We are rallying supporters worldwide to help hold these companies accountable and to make sure they follow up on their words with bold action. Because we don’t need more talk—we need concrete, urgent action to stop plastic pollution at the source!
Greenpeace’s flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, has been surrounded by giant single-use plastic items in Mediterranean waters. The action seeks to make visible the invisible, and to denounce the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans, especially in the Mediterranean Sea.
It’s time for Nestlé, Unilever, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo., Colgate, Danone, Johnson & Johnson and Mars to be transparent about exactly how much plastic packaging they are producing, and make concrete plans to reduce. It’s time for these corporations to invest in alternative ways to deliver their products to us and phase out single-use plastic.
These companies have created a monster, and we are not willing to allow the plastic monster to grow anymore. We need concrete plans for reduction, and we need them now. We need corporations to slay the plastic monster.
Stay tuned for more details about Greenpeace’s ships’ whereabouts in the coming weeks and months and to see how you can get involved!
Published by firepawinc View all posts by firepawinc
The disturbing results from a new study revealed plastic in every sea creature tested…
A Hundred Percent of Dolphins, Whales and Seals Tested had Microplastics in their Bodies.
A team analyzed a total of 50 animals across 10 species for their research published in the journal Scientific Reports. Microplastics were defined in the study as fragments measuring up to 5 millimeters (0.2 inches).
The samples used in the study were taken from 50 animals by members of the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS) and the Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme. Both projects are based in the U.K.
Of the plastics found in the sea creatures, 84 percent were synthetic fibres which generally originate from products such as clothing and fishing nets. The remainder of the contaminants were what the scientists described as fragments, likely to come from food and drink packaging.
A separate piece of research by scientists at the University of Plymouth, U.K., found billions of nanoparticles contaminated shellfish exposed after six hours. The research was published last year in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Journal Reference: Nelms, S.E., et al. (2019). Microplastics in marine mammals stranded around the British coast: ubiquitous but transitory? Scientific Reports, 9, Article number: 1075.
The seals of Waxham Beach in Norfolk are facing a deadly new predator. It attacks when they least expect it, wraps itself around their necks and slowly but surely strangles them to death.
This threat is so fatal precisely because evolution never prepared them for it. What is it, you ask? Plastic.
According to Friends of Horsey Seals — a local seal rescue charity — plastic waste on UK beaches have hit record levels. Thus there’s a growing number of seals that have come to shore recently with plastic material wrapped around their bodies. Whether it’s an old frisbee, fishing line, netting or a plastic bag, once the plastic gets around the animal’s body, it slowly tightens as the animal grows, cutting deep into its skin, hindering its mobility, causing infections and resulting in a slow and painful death.
That’s what would have likely happened to Pinkafo — the female seal pictured above. If Friends of Horsey Seals hadn’t rescued her in time, she would have eventually died an agonizing death, painful and unrelenting as the frisbee slowly dug into its skin. Luckily, she is now being nursed back to health, although it will be months before she is completely healthy.
Despite being ahead of the pack in terms of anti-plastic policies, UK beaches are still inundated with plastic debris. Debris that often ends up around the necks of marine animals. So while last year, the government announced that they were banning single-use plastic items like drink stirrers, straws, and cotton buds and have implemented a 5p bag charge that has reduced plastic bag usage there is still more they can do to help end their plastic addiction.
One thing they could do is ban single-use plastic bags altogether. Over the past several years governments as disparate as Rwanda, Kenya, California and Washington D.C. have implemented plastic bag prohibitions with stunning results. It’s now time for the UK to do the same.
Tell the government you want them to take action to fight their plastic addiction. Sign the petition and tell Parliament to #banthebag.Photo credit: Matthew Perring and the RSPCA
For the first time, researchers have pinned down just how damaging plastic is to marine animals. In a new study conducted by researchers at CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, they have discovered that a sea turtle that has ingested just one piece of plastic has more than a one in five chance of dying after consuming just one piece of plastic
The study was conducted by analyzing nearly 1,000 sea turtles that were found dead on beaches in Australia. What the researchers discovered was that the more plastic a turtle consumes, the great the likelihiod that it will die due to plastic. While this seems obvious, this is the first time scientists have been able to specifically say that the plastic leads to the death of turtles.
Of the 246 turtles examined, 58 contained debris. The count and mass of debris ranged from a single piece to 329 pieces, weighing between <0.01 g to 10.41 g.
“We knew that turtles were consuming a lot of plastic, but we didn’t know for certain whether that plastic actually caused the turtles’ deaths, or whether the turtles just happened to have plastic in them when they died,” said Dr Chris Wilcox, Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere.
The scientists found that once a turtle had 14 plastic items in its gut there was a 50% likelihood that it would cause death. However, that’s not to say that a turtle won’t die if they consume less than 14 pieces of plastic.
Sea turtles in all seven seas are impacted by the plastic and a recent study found that in 100% of turtles tested across three ocean, plastic was found in each one of them.
Currently there is an estimated 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic already estimated to be in the ocean today, that number will only grow at a rapid pace in the future. By 2050, plastic pollution is estimated to outweigh all fish in the ocean.
“The model we’ve developed can be adapted to help us understand the impact of plastic ingestion not just on individuals, but whole populations of other endangered marine species as well.” Said Wilcox.
“The better we understand the issue, the better equipped we are to address the problem, and work towards viable, scalable solutions.”
A newly proposed Florida state bill would ban the use of plastic bags and straws throughout the state. As a good majority of Florida’s borders are covered in ocean coastline, if passed this would be a huge win for marine conservationists and marine animals.
Currently there is an estimated 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic already estimated to be in the ocean today, that number will only grow at a rapid pace in the future. By 2050, plastic pollution is estimated to outweigh all fish in the ocean.
Marine life in turn eats that plastic as they believe it is a food source causing severe sickness or death for millions of animals each year. A recent study found that 100% of turtles tested across three oceans all contained microplastics inside of them.
Microplastics occur due to the salt and acidity of the oceans which breaks plastic down into small “microplastic” pieces, causing a real dilemma for the planets wildlife. While the plastic breaks into smaller pieces, it does not dissolve as it takes hundreds of years for plastic to decompose in the ocean.
The bill, Senate Bill 502, was proposed by Senator Kevin Rader and proposes to prohibit all stores and food services from using plastic bags and plastic straws.
The best thing thing Florida citizens can do right now is to call your representative and let them know that you want to see this bill passed. The more they hear from their citizens in support of the bill, the more likely they are to pass the bill.
A whole 500ml plastic bottle was found inside the stomach of a monkfish by a fisherman in South Korea. The monkfish was caught in the coastal town of Buan-Gun near North Jeolla.
The discovery even shocked the fisherman whom. have seen plastic pollution overwhelming the once plastic-free sea. They are hoping the incident is a wake-up call for governments to actively fight to reduce plastic usage.
The monkfish is known for their wide mouths where they frequently swallow other species of large sea creatures such as squid and flatfish. When in water, plastic pollution is easily mistaken as a form of food creating a huge problem to the predators of the ocean.
Environmental activists call for a “systemic response” from the government to ensure safe disposal of plastic waste.
“Hwang opened the fish and found a plastic bottle, so he sent me a picture,” said Lee In-gyu, a member of the North Jeolla branch of the Korean Federation of Environmental Movement.
“It shows that the issue of marine waste in Korea is quite serious.”
Local fishermen consider the waters near Buan County a rich fishing area.
“We find more plastic and garbage in fish these days,” said Hwang.
“I found vinyl products, cans, and plastic pieces in some fish, and this is not limited to monkfish.
Earlier this week, a sperm whale off the Indonesian coast was washed ashore with nearly 6 kg of plastic material, including 115 plastic cups.
To reduce plastic pollution, it is up to us to push large companies and governments to monitor and reduce usage. You can help by writing, calling, tweeting, emailing and trying to communicate the need to end the growing problem. We can solve this problem but nothing will be done if we the people do not push for a change.
An Australian city is taking an innovative method to reducing trash flowing from mainland to the ocean by creating a sewer system that blocks and catches any plastic or trash.
The system was installed by the Australian city of Kwinana in the Henley reserve and uses a exceptionally simple system to help keep the oceans cleaner.
The system consists of a net that is placed on the outlet of a drainage pipe which catches trash and prevents it from flowing further.
Unfortunately, trash will always find its way on the side of highways, in residential areas and just about anywhere there is human activity. When heavy rains come through, the trash is picked up and washed to the nearest sewer system where it will eventually find its way to a river and the ocean. The system uses the power of the rain and water flow to collect the trash in a simplistic and effective manner.
Via Storm Water Systems
The city started by installing 2 nets and were shocked to find how effective it was. Within a couple of weeks, more than 800 pounds of garbage was collected within several weeks.
While the upfront cost of these can be expensive at a price tag of roughly $10,000 each, the system does save money in the long run as it prevents spending of restoration in rivers and the oceans due to garbage pollution and saves in labor as the nets now due the job that several people would have been doing before of collecting the litter.
Via Storm Water Systems
Once full, the nets are being collected where the city picks out the recyclable items, then moves to be further processed.
Ideas like this is what will drive humans to help make up for the pollution problem worldwide. While cleaning out the oceans is extremely important, we will only be chasing our tails if we do not solve the problem of reducing the trash entering in the first place. Well done Australia.
Florida is facing one of the countries biggest crisis as their water quality continues to grow worse and worse. And finally, after eight years of hopelessly waiting, the new governor plans to take the state’s water quality seriously and put some real money towards the problem.
Ron Desantis announced the move while the state of Florida is still seeing the effects of one of their worst red tide blooms on record. The move is a multifaceted executive order on water policy vastly different from the new governors predecessor. On top of that, Desantis also fired the entire board of the South Florida Water Management after they have failed to protect the states water.
The plan includes to spend $2.5 billion to restore the Everglades and protect its water, a blue-green algae task force, creating a chief science officer position, phasing out septic tanks, putting teeth in environmental crime enforcement and creating an office of resilience and coastal protection to fund and coordinate response to rising sea levels.
While Desantis is known for being a very conservative Republican, the positive conservation steps forward are a stark difference from the previous administration whom banned state employees from using the words climate change or global warming in official communication.
DeSantis called his executive order the “most comprehensive, boldest actions that we have seen in Florida in a long time. … We can solve a lot of these problems, but it has got to begin now.”
Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director Frank Jackalone said DeSantis in his first week “has done more to address Florida’s water quality crisis than (former) Gov. Rick Scott did in eight years.”
But Jackalone said concerns remain over a “poorly designed” Everglades-area reservoir and the lack of a direct mention of climate change in DeSantis’ order. Also, he said more details are needed about the order’s stated opposition to offshore oil and gas drilling and opposition to the controversial drilling process known as fracking.
DeSantis, who campaigned as a critic of the Big Sugar farmers, said he is working with the White House and U.S. Army Corps to end the massive water releases from Lake Okeechobee. Residents living along the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries have blamed the discharges of polluted water from the lake for toxic algae outbreaks which has caused some of the biggest algae blooms to waterways and coastal waters.
While Desantis failed to mention anything about climate change, he did say the state needs to be “ahead of the curve” on increased flooding and rising waters, which will be a job of the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection.
Plastic pollution remains one of the biggest threats to our oceans along with rising seas levels, climate change, human-made chemical pollution, and agricultural runoff.
In a new report titled Foresight Future of the Sea by the UK Government Office for Science, discovered that the amount of plastic in the ocean could triple by the year 2025.
Currently, there is already over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic trash in the world’s ocean and with the current amount expected to triple in such a short time, we need to address the reality of what we have created.
The report warns that the current health of the oceans could have some cruel implications for biodiversity, noting that there is already a 49% decline in marine vertebrate populations between 1970 and 2012.
The world is slowly starting to wake up to our plastic problem but we still use way too much on a global scale. Walk into any super market or restaurant and pay attention to the amount of single-use plastic being used and quickly, it becomes evident how vast our addiction has become.
Governments have started to implement bans on plastic items but not yet on a scale that we need. One of the authors’ primary recommendations is to reduce plastic pollution in the sea through the development of new biodegradable plastics and public awareness campaigns. The authors note that that the UK and the world need to seriously reassess the way it manages the ocean.
Recent reports have started to identify just how troubling plastic pollution has become. Last week, a separate report found that 93 percent of major brand bottled water contained microplastics inside of the bottled water.
The time is now to reduce plastic waste. Governments need to start identifying how to reduce waste but it also starts at a personal level. Every decision a person makes to say to no to plastic is decision that is positively impacting our environment.
A new bill has been introduced that aims to reduce cigarettes on Florida beaches. Sarasota House Republican Joe Gruters is looking for the state to bank smoking on all public beaches through bill SB218, which would fine first-time violators $25 or 10 hours of community service.
If Florida passes the bill, it would go into effect July 1st, 2019.
The bill may face potential problems as this isn’t the first time representatives have tried to restrict smoking on beaches in Florida. In 2017, a law that was in place for five years and banned smoking in Sarasota County public parks and beaches was tossed out by a judge whom declared it unconstitutional on the grounds that local jurisdictions couldn’t ban something that was legal on a state level.
Hopefully though, with the potential ban being state wide this time, there will not be another loop-hole that would allow the bill to be thrown out if it does get through the legislatures.
Florida would not be the only state with this ban in place as New Jersey recently banned smoking in public beaches which carries a fine of $250.00
Cigarette butt continue to be the largest single polluter in the ocean damaging habitats, poisoning fish and costing tax dollars for cleanup and disposal, according to environmental experts.
Outside of direct pollution on the beach, cigarettes make their way to the sea due to countless storm drains, streams and rivers around the world. The waste often disintegrates into microplastics easily consumed by wildlife. Researchers have found the detritus in some 70 percent of seabirds and 30 percent of sea turtles.
As Florida holds some of the most visited and popular beaches in the world, banning smoking would be a huge win in helping to contain ocean pollution.
Large recycled plastic fish sculpture in Helsingor situated infront of the Kronborg Castle in Helsingor in Denmark in July 28th 2017. James D. Morgan / Getty Images
The plastic pollution crisis has been building for some time now, to the point where around eight million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year.
In response, a movement to cut down on plastic waste has also been gaining momentum, but 2018 was the year it really picked up speed, with everyone from ordinary tourists to major companies to the Queen of England lending their hands to push it along.
Part of the movement’s success in 2018 was because of something that happened at the end of last year. Famed British naturalist David Attenborough aired his new BBC series Blue Planet II, which featured a heartbreaking image of an albatross feeding a plastic toothpick to its young.
“Never before have we been so aware of what we are doing to our planet—and never before have we had such power to do something about it,” he wrote at the close of 2017. “Surely we have a responsibility to care for the planet on which we live?”
Here is a brief timeline of how we answered his question in 2018.
January: The year began auspiciously when, early in January, a ban on microbeads entered into force in the UK. Microbeads were common in personal care products, but they washed down drains into every body of water in the world, where marine life ate them by mistake, moving them up the ocean food web to larger marine mammals and, eventually, to us. In the U.S., former President Barack Obama had already signed legislation phasing out the manufacturing of products containing microbeads by July 2017 and the sale of these products by July 2018.
February: The fight against plastic gained a very distinguished ally early in the year when Queen Elizabeth II banned plastic straws and bottles on all royal properties, including visitor cafes. The Queen was reportedly inspired by working with Attenborough on Blue Planet II.
March: You don’t need to be a world-famous naturalist to raise awareness about plastic pollution. British diver Rich Horner raised a lot when a video he had posted on Facebook went viral. The video showed Horner swimming in plastic-filled water off of Bali’s Manta Point. Horner used the opportunity to encourage people to cut down on single use plastics and to correctly recycle the plastic they do use.
April: On Sunday, April 22, the world celebrated Earth Day. This year’s focus? Ending plastic pollution by 2020. “An aroused public can overcome a powerful economic interest, but only when the issue is felt intensely. Until ending ‘one-way’ plastics becomes a political priority around the world, [their manufacture] will continue unabated. Meanwhile, we nevertheless each should ‘be the change we want to see,'” Earth Day founder Denis Hayes said in an interview.
May: Chile’s congress unanimously approved a nation-wide ban on plastic bags at the end of the month, making Chile the first country in the Americas to do so. The law gave major retailers one year and smaller businesses two years to phase out the bags. Around 95 percent of Chileans supported their government’s decision.
June: June was a big month for corporate action on single-use plastics as companies like SeaWorld parks, American Express, cruise company Royal Caribbean, IKEA, A&W Canada and Burger King UK all pledged to phase out items like straws, stirrers, lids and bags. World governments also joined in when Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the EU endorsed the G7 Ocean Plastics Charter. The charter set goals for reducing unnecessary plastics and encouraging recycling, but the U.S. and Japan refused to sign.
July: In July, bans on plastic straws specifically took off. A city-wide ban on plastic straws and utensils in Seattle went into effect July 1, About a week later, one of Seattle’s most famous companies followed suit when Starbucks became the largest food and beverage retailer to ban plastic straws, promising to remove them from all locations by 2020. However, the disability community raised important concerns about the straw bans. They pointed out that many people with disabilities rely on plastic straws’ mix of strength and flexibility to dine out independently and asked that the bans be flexible as well. “We don’t have to choose between making the world more sustainable or making it more accessible,” disability advocate Karin Hitselberger wrote.
August: France worked to up its commitment to fighting plastic pollution by announcing a series of policy changes this August. Next year, items without recyclable packaging could cost as much as 10 percent more, while items with recyclable packaging could cost 10 percent less. The measures also included upping taxes for landfills, reducing taxes for recycling and implementing a refund for turning in plastic bottles. All of this is to further the country’s goal of recycling 100 percent of plastic by 2025.
September: The Ocean Cleanup launched this month from San Francisco in an attempt to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mass of ocean trash twice the size of Texas. The plastic-removing method, developed by Boyan Slat of the Netherlands when he was still a teenager, hasn’t worked effectively yet, but Slat is not ready to give up and continues to troubleshoot.
October: This month some of the biggest plastic polluting companies in the world, such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Unilever and H&M, joined forces with more than 250 governments, businesses and organizations to sign the “New Plastics Economy Global Commitment” to make all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
November: In a testament to how successful the movement against plastic pollution was in 2018, Collins Dictionary named “single-use” their word of the year. The dictionary said use of the word had jumped four fold since 2013. “Single-use refers to products—often plastic—that are ‘made to be used once only’ before disposal. Images of plastic adrift in the most distant oceans, such as straws, bottles, and bags have led to a global campaign to reduce their use,” Collins wrote of its decision.
December: 2018 ended on a positive note for the fight against plastic waste when the EU got one step closer to an agreement to reduce or ban several single-use plastic items. The plan was first introduced by the European Commission in May and targets items like cigarette butts, straws, bottles, cutlery and cotton buds. EU’s parliament and council have reached a provisional agreement to move the plan forward.
Remember your first toothbrush, it’s probably still out there!
We are calling on people around the world to create a “Million Acts of Blue”
Actions to push retailers, corporations and businesses to reduce single-use plastic. It’s going to take communities both large and small to tackle the scale of the current plastic pollution crisis, we all have a role to play. Every action to reduce single-use plastic sends a message to the industry that it’s time to change. We can no longer allow products that are used for a few seconds to pollute our planet for a lifetime.
For a plastic – free future go here to download the app and get more information…
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard