Earth Day 2012 is a great time to step back and finally stop using those plastic bags you know are so harmful to our environment. Convenience is no longer a reason to justify using a product that essentially lives forever, never biodegrading.
Plastic manufacturers estimate that the average person in this country uses 500 plastic grocery bags per year! This is a stunning number to say the least considering the amount of time each bag is used to carry something.
Now that you’ve made the decision to stop using plastic bags you will need to determine how many reusable bags are right for your family. A minimum of 4 or 5 reusable bags per household vehicle is a good starting point.
Most grocery, drug, and big box stores sell them for 99 cents apiece, a small investment that brings exceptional benefits for the environment.
Consider a small foldable reusable bag to take with you in your purse. It will come in handy for quick trips to the store.
The hardest part of switching from plastic to reusable bags is remembering to bring your bags when you shop! It may take several weeks for you in integrate this new habit into your shopping routine and life style.
Purchasing a Bagnesia steering wheel wrap to trigger your memory to bring those bags with you before you shop will make the switch infinitely easier. Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. We all forget.
Here’s a great tip. Make sure you put your reusable bags back in your car as soon as your groceries are put away. Trust me, the likelihood you will remember to take your bags with you (the ones you left in the kitchen on a table or on a chair), is remote.
Once you start using reusable bags you will find yourself wanting to do more. You will need to establish new routine for handling all that plastic you bring home with you from the grocery store. All those plastic bottles, egg cartons, plastic wrap from food stuffs, packaging surrounding batteries and other hard goods need to be collected and recycled.
I keep a separate bin for collecting the plastic trash that comes into my home every time I shop. I have a plan in place for recycling the plastic trash and keeping it separate from the trash collected by the city.
The last part of your new program concerns recycling all that plastic trash you and your family will collect every week. If your city or town has a separate collection program for plastic in all its forms, great. If not, consideration will have to be given to bringing back the plastic for collection at a recycling point.
Publix has plastic collection bins in front of their stores, but only for certain kinds of plastic. Harry’s (Whole Foods) has the best plastic collection program allowing for all types of plastics including plastic bottles.
Plastic is a bigger danger than global warming, or at least it is in the immediate sense, considering it is snuffing out the lowest common denominator in the food chain, says Neil Seldman, a waste recycling expert and president of the Institute for Local Self Reliance, an organization with a long track record of promoting sustainable communities.
Forget the hokum about global warming. Plastic pollution can be seen everywhere. This problem is here now not some place in the distant future.
The vast amount of plastic trash that enters the oceans is a real problem, a problem that grows ever omnipresent on a hourly basis.
Plastic pollution is destroying the world’s ocean ecosystems. The real problem with all the plastic entering the oceans is the fact that it never degrades. It photodegrades into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic particles.
Billions upon billions of smaller and smaller plastic pieces have now become part of the food chain finally absorbed within zooplankton.
The oceans are constantly in motion. Areas called gyres pull in waste from one part of the world and bring to other side of the world. As the plastic photodegrades into barely visible pieces, plankton have plastic debris in their bodies. Zooplankton are at the core of the marine food chain.
This situation is so dire that we have places in the oceans where plastic debris outnumbers plankton.
Unfortunately, that is not the worst of it. When birds, fish, and other sea creatures and mammals ingest plastic debris which they mistake platic bottle caps and bits and pieces for food’ the consequences often lead to a long slow death.
When these creatures consume plastic debris they suffer with blockages of digestive tract followed by satiation, starvation and general debilitation and finally death.
According to The Royal Society of Biological Sciences additionally they suffer a reduction in quality of life and reproductive capacity; drowning and limited predator avoidance; impairment of feeding capacity.
There have been warnings for years … huge areas in the oceans (5 gyres) that have more plastic trash and garbage than fish.
What we’re seeing is the product greed, selfishness, and short sightedness on the part of government, consumers, and governing agencies alike.
Combine that with the excessive over fishing of the many species of fish is it any wonder that the one Bluefin tuna would fetch almost $400,000.00?
According to the AP:
TOKYO — A giant Bluefin tuna fetched a record 32.49 million yen, or nearly $396,000, in Tokyo on Wednesday, in the first auction of the year at the world’s largest wholesale fish market. [...]
Japan is the world’s biggest consumer of seafood, with Japanese eating 80 % of the Atlantic and Pacific bluefins caught. The two tuna species are the most sought-after by sushi lovers.
They are in a severe population decline and many predict they could be extinct in the not to distant future.
The Japanese demand for the the Bluefin has depleted the Atlantic tuna by as much as 90% since the 1970′s.
Placing the Bluefin tuna on the endangered species list is currently under review for that status.
For more information on the Bluefin tuna and other fish species visit Seafood Watch here.
The world’s oceans are harboring a dirty secret: trash … lots of it … and we are responsible for it.
If you are of a certain age, you most likely will remember that famous line in the movie Mrs. Robinson, “one word Benjamin . . . plastics!”
We took it to heart, because since the 60’s our use of plastics has gone exponentially through the roof. This is true world wide. It wouldn’t be so worrisome if were not for the fact that most of the people on the planet use plastic (in all its forms) in an indiscriminate manner.
It doesn’t matter what corner of the world we are talking about, we all do … more so in the U.S. than other part of the world.
Watching a cable program a few years ago changed my outlook about plastic trash in all its forms. I will never forget the following point.
Every piece of plastic that has ever been manufactured will continue to exist in our landfills and oceans for hundreds to thousands of years to come. Every piece! We use plastic bags, made of a material that has been manufactured to last into infinity, for a minuscule amount of time and then toss them away.
Our thoughtless use and disposal of plastic is helping us kill every form of life. Fish, sharks, whales, dolphins, porpoise, pelicans, seagulls, etc.; the reefs that support so many forms of life . . . all are negatively impacted by our thoughtlessness.
If the oceans are to survive it begins with YOU! Remember it’s not just a plastic bag.
The ongoing devastation to the oceans and our environment caused by plastic trash in all its forms continues at an alarming rate. Our oceans are becoming little more than sewers for the world’s refuge.
Millions of tons of plastic debris and trash are now occupying 5 Gyres in the oceans. We knew about the Pacific Gyre , twice the size of Texas, only last year did we start hearing about the other four massive Gyres.
It is estimated that there could be hundreds of millions of tons of plastic rubbish floating in the world’s oceans. In Japan alone, it is calculated that 150,000 tons of plastic is washed up on its shores each year.
According to a recent article in National Geographic News, 44 percent of all seabirds eat plastic, apparently by mistake, sometimes with fatal effects. And 267 marine species are affected by plastic garbage—animals are known to swallow plastic bags, which resemble jellyfish in mid-ocean, for example—according to a 2008 study in the journal Environmental Research by oceanographer and chemist Charles Moore, of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.
Plastic hits marine creatures with a double whammy, Moore said. Along with the toxic chemicals released from the breakdown of plastic, animals also take in other chemicals that the plastic has accumulated from outside sources in the water.
“We knew ten years ago that plastic could be a million times more toxic than the seawater itself,” because plastic items tend to accumulate a surface layer of chemicals from seawater, Moore said. “They’re sponges.”
Oprah’s Earth Day shows have been a powerful means of focusing on this unnecessary man made plastic nightmare.
If you have been watching the Whale Wars on Planet Green, you already know what a treacherous existence it is for whales.
It isn’t bad enough that our oceans are treated like cesspools where areas have ten times as much plastic trash as plankton. The trash is ingested by hundreds of thousands of birds and seas creatures … a time bomb going off in their guts that silently kills. The number of whales, in particular, that are found stranded with stomachs full of trash is increasing with greater frequency.
No, we have a few nations, Japan in particular, that behave with utter disregard to savage, mind numbing killing of sharks just for their fins. Harvesting sharks as a food source is one thing … killing hundreds of thousands of sharks just for their fins and tossing the rest of the carcasses away is criminal waste.
The Japanese apparently feel that all of the oceans fish, sharks, dolphins, and whales are there to feed their voracious appetites for sea food and the rest of the world be dammed. It’s part of their culture, don’t ya know!
If you have seen The Cove you have viewed the tragedy of the Japanese insistence of mindlessly killing dolphins every year. The worse part of this story is that the rationale for the dolphin round-up is so that business corporations like Sea World can add to their supply of performing dolphins.
What is particularly hideous about the slaughter of the dolphins and whales is that these aquatic mammals are intelligent creatures that possess self awareness. They know who they are! They are cultural animals that can learn and teach one another. They mourn and feel pain.
According to the Sunday Times:
Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as “non-human persons”.
Studies into dolphin behavior have highlighted how similar their communications are to those of humans and that they are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains have many key features associated with high intelligence.
The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year.
Just how intelligent are whales?
It has been shown that whales, including baleen species, exhibit exceptional acumen. Studies show that they can solve problems and use tools; show grief and joy; and of course they live in complex societies as a key adaptive strategy to their vast watery environment. Cognitively advanced, whales have powers of acoustic processing, communication and social intelligence.
It’s time for the US to get serious about banning or (at the very least) addressing the environmental damage caused by the ubiquitous single use plastic.
It is ironic that for a country that has led the world in so many environmental issues that we have such a shameful record of ignoring this hazard … all in the name of convenience, of course!
How’s this for a statistic?Plastic constitutes a whopping 90 percent of all trash floating in the oceans, and that represents as much as 80 percent of all plastic waste on earth!
Lost in the din of the BP Deepwater Disaster oil spill was the announcement that the United States and the Obama Administration have been major players in back room negotiations that will allow Japan, Norway, and Iceland to restart commercial whaling.
Every President since Reagan has supported the international ban on the killing of whales going back to 1986.
After years of backroom negotiations and closed-door meetings, a secret deal has emerged that would re-start the cruel commercial slaughter of our ocean’s great whales.
That’s right, the same country that for decades has led the international fight to stop the cruel and unnecessary commercial slaughter of whales…whose president promised to be a leader on wildlife protections…is now behind the deal that would reintroduce commercial whaling. In fact, four out of the last five closed-door meetings that produced this plan have been held on American soil. This is a deal that was literally “made in the USA!”
But now – on President Obama’s watch – the United States is about to support a plan that will reintroduce legalized commercial whaling – this despite his campaign assurances that he would strengthen protections for whales.
Greenpeace has labeled President Obama as Public Enemy #1 because of his support of of this unconscionable deal that sanctions the slaughter of these magnificent creatures.
Sperm whales feeding even in the most remote reaches of Earth’s oceans have built up stunningly high levels of toxic and heavy metals, according to American scientists who say the findings spell danger not only for marine life but for the millions of humans who depend on seafood.
A report released Thursday noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in tissue samples taken by dart gun from nearly 1,000 whales over five years.
From polar areas to equatorial waters, the whales ingested pollutants that may have been produced by humans thousands of miles away, the researchers said.
Payne called his group’s $5 million project the most comprehensive report ever done on ocean pollutants. U.S. Whaling Commissioner Monica Medina informed the 88 member nations of the whaling commission of the report and urged the commission to conduct further research.
Human-caused pollution, including deadly toxins and heavy metals, are reaching into the farthest corners of the ocean and into the systems of the largest creatures on earth.
Even if you didn’t care about whales, the fact remains that they are at the top of the food chain, a reflection of what all of the other creatures are consuming, in even the most remote waters.
The fish that some whales eat are also consumed by people—one billion of whom count fish as their primary protein source–and the consequences cannot be avoided. “The entire ocean life is just loaded with a series of contaminants, most of which have been released by human beings,”