PLASTIC IS BAD:
PLASTIC IS BAD FOR THE PLANET NO MATTER HOW YOU LOOK AT IT!
Fish, turtles, sea birds, seals, whales and other marine mammals die from ingesting plastic or getting tangled in it.
“Ocean Conservancy says plastics are believed to threaten at least 600 different wildlife species. One in three leatherback turtles, which often mistake plastic bags for edible jellyfish, have been found with plastic in their bellies. In February, a dead whale beached on Norway’s coast had 30 plastic bags in its stomach. Ninety percent of seabirds, including albatross and petrels, are now eating plastics on a regular basis. By 2050, that figure is expected to rise to 100 percent.” Huffington Post
Coral Reefs are being smothered to death from plastic wrapping around them. (Coral reefs and wildlife are also being killed off by inept planning with a good deal of human wastewater being purposely piped directly into the ocean.)
HOW MUCH PLASTIC IS IN THE OCEAN?????
Image: Zak Noyle/A-Frame
“Imagine an area 34 times the size of Manhattan. Now imagine it covered ankle-deep in plastic waste — piles of soda bottles and plastic bags, takeout containers by the mile, drinking straws as far as the eye can see.” Huffington Post
Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer led the 2015 study that determined 19 billion pounds of trash end up in our oceans EVERY YEAR! According to Jambeck’s research, this figure is on track to double by 2025 unless something is done, swiftly and at a global scale, to stem the tide of garbage.
“In the Los Angeles area alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments — like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles — are carried into the Pacific Ocean EVERY DAY.
Studies estimate there are 15–51 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans — from the equator to the poles, from Arctic ice sheets to the sea floor. Emerging research suggests that not one square mile of surface ocean anywhere on earth is free of plastic pollution.” Center for Biological Diversity
Every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic (UN Environment Program). Of the more than 200 billion pounds of plastic the world produces each year, about 10 percent ends up in the ocean. Seventy percent of that eventually sinks, damaging life on the ocean floor (source: Greenpeace).
WHY IS PLASTIC IN THE OCEAN?
HOW IS PLASTIC ENDING UP IN THE OCEAN??? It seems that plastic trash is finding it’s way into the oceans primarily from land due to lack of waste management infrastructure coupled with increasing population in developing countries. The top five polluting nations in the world were identified in a 2015 Ocean Conservancy report as China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines – where about 75% of waste is mismanaged. 60 other countries worldwide show 50% of waste is mismanaged. The US is also a culprit mostly due to the mass quantity of personal waste generated – a small percentage, but very large quantity, finds its way into the oceans mostly through littering. Also, ships (including the navy), some cruises and offshore oil and gas platforms are known to deliberately throw trash overboard!!! And, some plastic manufacturers intentionally dispose of waste into the ocean. Micro plastics are also an enormous problem in the ocean. Plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller “bite-size” pieces but don’t ever biodegrade. Some micro plastics are crazily added to things like exfoliants in health and beauty products which get washed down the drain.
The Huffington Post reported that “Recent studies have found that microplastics can also get washed out of synthetic clothing, like those made of polyester or acrylic. A 2016 paper concluded that a single cycle of a washing machine could release more than 700,000 microplastic fibers into the environment.”
Clearly change needs to happen on a global level and on a country level. Without the mind boggling increase in corporate plastic production and usage since the 1970’s, we also would not have this problem. Corporations could end this environmental devastation swiftly by not producing plastic. And we, the individual consumers need to resist all the plastic temptations – especially single-use plastics. On a hopeful note, the U.N. has started a new #CleanSeas initiative in which 10 nations ― including Uruguay, Costa Rica, France and Indonesia ― vowed to reduce plastic marine litter.
WHY ARE MARINE ANIMALS LOSING HABITAT?
Two of the most common causes of habitat loss in the oceans are from oil spills and industrial/residential waste which includes plastics washing into the ocean.
IS PLASTIC POLLUTING BEACHES?
Some beaches are buried under five to ten feet of trash, while other beaches are riddled with “plastic sand,” millions of grain-like pieces of plastic that are practically impossible to clean up.
WHAT HAPPENS TO PLASTIC IN THE OCEANS?
Marine trash is made up of 85% plastic. Plastic trash collects in large circular ocean currents called gyres and forms massive garbage patches in EVERY ocean body – Pacific, South Pacific, North and South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.
The Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest “landfill” in the world, two times the size of Texas with 7 billion pounds of plastic, floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Plastic pieces outweigh surface zooplankton in the Central North Pacific by a factor of 6 to 1. (Algalita Marine Research Foundation)
25 percent of our planet or 40% of our oceans is littered with trash and plastic.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT PLASTIC IN THE OCEANS?
- First and foremost we can stop using plastics that could end up in the ocean. STOP using single-use plastic bags AND start using sustainable options like Hands On Hemp reusable bags, glass and other sustainable materials.
- Tell all your friends about the devastating effects of plastic in the oceans.
- We can also support organizations that help with ocean cleanup, innovative solutions and better waste management in other countries.
SOME HOPEFUL ACTIONS!
- SCIENCE: There may be a caterpillar that can actually process and break down plastic in a way nothing else in nature has been shown to do thus far.
- ADDIDAS and other brands are actually using collected ocean plastic and reusing it into new products and/or packaging. See article in Blog.
- BOYAN SLAT – once a young concerned student now IS actually harnessing science and people power to solve the ocean clean-up conundrum.
We are touching, eating, drinking, and breathing plastic everywhere we go.
The harmful chemicals in plastic are in the plastic bags and containers that hold our food, in the pipes that carry our water, in the bottles we use to feed our infants…in window frames, shower curtains, raincoats, cars, eyeglasses, safety helmets, phones, keyboards, bandages, lipstick, nail polish, CDs, dinnerware, sports safety equipment, incubators, heart-lung machines, IV bags, bottle tops, packaging, dental sealants, sports bottles. The list goes on and on…..
PLASTIC AND DISEASE:
Various studies have linked plastic to increased rates of cancer, asthma, neurological disorders, infertility, reproductive abnormalities, heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. We are ingesting plastics from eating fish and shellfish that contain micro-plastics. One study shows an average shellfish consumer could be ingesting 11,000 micro plastics a year.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis detected BPA in urine samples of nearly 93 percent of 2,517 people who took part in a national health survey from 2003 through 2004. BPA (Bisphenol A) and Phthalate are harmful chemicals that can leach from plastics and be absorbed into our bodies.
Consumer Reports, released in November of 2009 found that in almost all of the 19 name brand canned foods tested; including soup, juice, tuna, and green beans, each contained some level of BPA.
The report states “The canned organic foods we tested did not always have lower BPA levels than nonorganic brands of similar foods analyzed. We even found the chemical in some products in cans that were labeled “BPA-free.”
Challenge yourself to become more plastic free. Make this goal part of every shopping trip!
WHAT ABOUT RECYCLING PLASTIC BAGS?
REDUCING is Better than Recycling: You can easily reduce your consumption of single-use plastic bags/containers and paper bags by using reusable bags/containers.
Recycling is a really ingenious idea that works great for reducing our trash and CO2 footprints, but replacing single-use items with long lasting reusable ones has the greatest positive eco-impact.
As for recycling plastic bags, very little of it happens, only 5% or so. It is not as easy to recycle plastic bags as other things because they can only be recycled at special disposal centers or now some grocery stores take them.
Plastic bag recycling is more accurately called “down-cycling”, because the original purpose can not be replicated. Plastic bags can be turned into synthetic materials such as composite lumber for example, but don’t end up becoming plastic bags again. Plastic bags are made only from virgin resin.
Many plastic bags end up in traditional recycling facilities that are not capable of dealing with them and their machines get gummed up and take twenty minute intervals several times a day to clean up.
Also, plastic bags that are supposed to get recycled, often end up getting shipped to third world countries where they can be incinerated more cheaply creating toxic waste for innocent people.
(Video is Courtesy of Vox Feminista)