Single-Use Plastic Bags & Bottles Destructive to Our Oceans, Our World

There was a time, not that long ago when you would see countless cigarette butts littering the landscape. Then, something happened ever so slowly, the ugly disgusting cigarette butts began disappearing from bars and restaurants, parking lots, sidewalks, beaches, ashtrays in public and private buildings.

People finally got the message that smoking was not cool but was detrimental to health of everyone surrounded by the smoker.

Can the same thing happen with single-use plastic bags and bottles? I think it can … with YOUR help.  Imagine a world without plastic debris and SAY NO TO PLASTICS

Is It Time For a Worldwide Ban on Single-use Plastic Bags?

Let me state for the record, that with few exceptions, I do not like governmental bans or restrictions on personal behavior. That means the number of ounces of soda one can drink, or the amount on salt or kind of light bulbs that can be used; all should be off limits to the nosey bureaucrats’ intent on controlling every aspect of our daily lives.
There are, however, exigent circumstances when the harm being done is so massive that intervention in the form of bans is necessary. So it is with the worldwide pollution caused by the indiscriminate use of plastics for convenience rather than necessity.
Unlike climate change, very few are challenging the reality of the plastic trash and debris crisis. Estimates of single-use plastic bags range from 500 billion to 1 trillion bags worldwide every year. Virtually no corner of the globe has been left uncovered by plastic trash. Very few pristine locations remain unsullied.
Whether we are talking about whales off the coast of Spain , cows in India, or camels in the Egyptian desert or monkeys in East Java, globally many thousands of animals die ingesting plastics and then dying of starvation every year.
The Blue Danube is loaded with more trash than fish. Mount Everest is a mountain of trash and garbage. It is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of ocean pollution comes directly from plastics in the form of plastic bags, toothbrushes, containers of every shape and description, toys, and bottles. Time Magazine covered The Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2012, one of the Five Gyres circulating in the oceans.

When Rolling Stone covered the Plastic Bag Wars in 2011, they noted that American shoppers used 102 billion plastic bags yearly. That figure has gone up to 380 billion bags yearly. It is very easy for a family of four to go through 500 plastic bags a year. Remember these are bags designed to last forever and are only used for 15 minutes or less on average.

With all this plastic being produced every year, you’d better believe manufacturers are fighting back using intimidation and litigation in their arsenal of tactics.

Why should you care?

  1. Plastic never goes away. Every piece of plastic produced in the last 50 years still exists unless it was recycled.
  2. 93% of Americans aged six or older have tested positive for BPA, a cancer causing chemical used in plastics.
  3. The search for lost Malaysian flight 370 has been hampered by the global marine litter crisis, as reported by CNN.
  4. The Plastic Bag Report lists 27 states, multiple countries, 102 cities in California and EU with complete bag bans or bans in various stages of legislation.
  5. The list of species testing positive for plastic in their bodies is growing, including 44 percent of all birds, 22 percent of cetaceans and turtles.

A better question is what kind of world do you want to leave to future generations? We are after all only as good as what we leave behind. As Captain Charles Moore notes we should be living our lives like it matters.

 

 

 

Scientists Recommend Classifying Certain Plastic Waste As Toxic Trash

PLASTIC WORLD 3

An international group of scientists think it is time to consider categorizing some plastic waste as toxic according to a recent LA Times article. Considering the damage to the environment and the health hazards posed by plastic debris and plastic pollution, many believe this is about time.

The throwaway mentality of all things plastic including single-use plastic bags and bottles has burgeoned into an ecological disaster of monstrous proportions in the last 30 years. The tide of plastic debris that has spread throughout the world’s oceans and across every continent poses health hazards to wildlife, marine life and the world’s populace.

It isn’t just the plague of plastic choking the seas as far as the Artic, or the enormous costs of cleaning up our coastlines reaching $500 million annually on the west coast alone. It is having to deal with the unintended consequences of mindlessly tossing vast quantities into the environment without recycling.

Scientists, researchers and marine biologists have found:

  1. Mutant fish with toxins stored in their fats thought to be caused by two General Electric manufacturing plants along the Hudson River that produced PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) from 1947 to 1976.
  2. One third of the fish caught in the English Channel have plastic contamination.Researchers estimate that fish living at intermediate depths in the North Pacific swallow as much as 24,000 tons of plastic debris a year.
  3. Science Daily found BPA, or Bisphenol A,(used as a hardener in polycarbonate plastics and as the lining in food and beverage containers) has been linked to childhood obesity, along with adverse effects on the heart and kidneys of adolescents.
  4. The National Academy of Sciences just published a study conducted by Washington State University and recently reported on Fox News . The study found compelling evidence that Bisphenol A may negatively impact women’s reproductive systems, cause chromosome damage, birth defects and miscarriages.

Plastics do not biodegrade; they photodegrade, breaking down into smaller particles and microscopic bits in the oceans. These plastic bits and their chemical compounds find their way into the food chain as they are ingested by over 180 known marine species.

Degrading plastics leach toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A into the seas. Smaller fish and crustaceans mistake the plastic debris for food are then eaten by larger and larger species. Estimates are there are six times as much photodegraded plastic is in the oceans than is plankton!

Scientists are now calling for a similar approach to fighting plastic debris and pollution as has been used in the past to fight fluorocarbons and refrigerants worldwide. In particular, they want to classify PVC, polystyrene, polyurethane and polycarbonate as the most hazardous/toxic plastics.

The U.S. could take lessons from many countries when it comes to managing plastic trash, especially Japan where 77% of its plastic waste was recycled in 2010.

It should also be noted that Canada, the European Union, and China have banned BPA in some uses. The World Health Organization calls Bisphenol A a particularly dangerous chemical also linking it to cancer and birth defects.

A complete report on the damage done to the environment, entitled Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans, has been put together by Greenpeace. The 44 page report details the scale of contamination along with workable solutions.

More & More Reasons to Say No to Plastics

There are more and more reasons to Say No to Plastics. Most single-use plastic bags are used an average of 12 minutes by U.S. consumers, yet their real life span, unless recycled, is many hundreds of years. The plastic trash building up in our oceans is a ticking time bomb.

The statistics below are from a recent Huff Post Green article which asks, “Did you just eat a plastic bag?” For a more complete look view it here.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports the following data on plastic products in the American municipal waste stream for 2008 alone:

1. Plastic Plates and Cups: 780,000 tons were produced, and all 780,000 tons were discarded.
2. Plastic Trash Bags: 930,000 tons were produced, and all 930,000 were discarded.
3. Plastic Bags, Sacks and Wraps: 3,960,000 tons were produced. 9.8% was recovered (390,000). 3,570,000 tons were discarded.
4. “Other” non-durable goods including plastic disposable diapers, footwear and clothing: amounted to 4,810,000 tons produced with all 4,810,000 tons discarded.
5. PET Bottles and Jars: 2,680,000 tons were produced, 27.2 % were recovered (730,000 tons) and 1,950,000 tons were discarded.
6. HDPE (white translucent homopolymer bottles): 750,000 tons were produced, and 29.3 % (220,000 tons) were recovered. 530,000 tons were discarded.
7. “Other Plastic Packaging” including coatings, closures, lids, caps, clam shells, egg cartons, produce baskets, trays, shapes, and loose fill: 3,720,000 tons were produced. 3% (110,000 tons) were recovered, and 3 Million 610 Thousand Tons were discarded.

 

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