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.

 

 

 

PLASTIC TRASH IS A BIGGER PROBLEM THAN GLOBAL WARMING

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.

 


The U.S. dumping its electronic waste on poor countries

Dumping electronic waste (e-waste) is a massive worldwide problem.  When talking about toxic time bombs, e-waste is right up there with the top five ecological nightmares that we can choose to deal with now or suffer the consequences of waiting for later.

The amount of e-waste that is generated by the U.S. every year is simply staggering. The U.S. is the world’s top producer of e-waste.  According Popular Mechanics we produce 2.25 million tons of used electronics every year and recycle only 18% of our tech toys.

Why?  Because we have very few companies here that are wiling to recycle and extract components that have value (like the copper) and because it is simply cheaper to export the electronics  and let poor people in developing nations like China, India, Ghana, and Nigeria deal with the toxic waste.

Monitors, keyboards, mainframes, memory cards contain hazardous materials like lead, mercury, chromium, beryllium, cobalt, arsenic … all cancer causing agents that are constantly being released into the environment as people in poor countries are enlisted to recycle these old electronics.

The poor, often including children, dismantle dumped PCs and phones, stripping the components for the valuable — and toxic — metals contained inside.  In the process these people are constantly being exposed to cancer causing toxins, while their landfills and ground waters are hideously being polluted.

The irony here is that since the U.S. no longer is a manufacturing country, when all those container ships arriving with cheap Chinese made goods are emptied we ship the containers back filled with out electronic waste!

For more on how to recycle your computer go to Treehugger and check with you local community recycling program.  Many cities and towns reserve at least one day every year where you can bring your old electronics to be responsibility recycled.

Check it out and be sure that any sensitive or personal data has been removed!

 

When Our Oceans Are Barren; Japanese Atrocities of Whales, Dolphins & Sharks

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.


CALIFORNIA BANS THE PLASTIC BAG

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!

China, New Zealand, Ireland, Bangladesh, India, Kenya all have single use plastic bag bans of some type.