Protecting Mother Nature- Plastic

20140908_075925

I once read that every piece of plastic ever created still exists. For example, it is estimated that it will take 450 -1000 years for a plastic liter bottle to decompose. Even biodegradable trash doesn’t disintegrate in a landfill because of the lack of oxygen.

When they were looking for the wreckage of Malaysian flight #370 in March of 2014, satellites kept showing possible debris areas. Often they later discovered the satellites were picking up debris that was not related to the flight.

A 2011 EPA report said, “The primary source of marine debris is the improper waste disposal or management of trash and manufacturing products, including plastics (e.g., littering, illegal dumping) … Debris is generated on land at marinas, ports, rivers, harbors, docks, and storm drains. Debris is generated at sea from fishing vessels, stationary platforms and cargo ships.”

In 2006, a UN Environment Programme report estimated that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. They also reported that 137 species of seabirds, marine mammals, crustaceans, and fish have been found entangled in marine debris, and 177 species have ingested it. Most of this marine debris is plastic.

There are places in the ocean where garbage pools.  The largest is called The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  There are also garbage patches in the Indian and Atlantic ocean.  Here is a report about the biggest patch, published in The Independent on September 7, 2014.

Charles Moore, an American oceanographer who discovered the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” or “trash vortex”, believes that about 100 million tons of flotsam are circulating in the region. Marcus Eriksen, a research director of the US-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which Mr Moore founded, said yesterday: “The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as continental United States.”

Plastic garbage can have devasting effect on animals, birds, marine life, and other creatures. This short movie trailer and the picture after it say more than my words ever could.  The video was taken at Midway Island, which is more  than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.

*****

*****

787px-Albatross_at_Midway_Atoll_Refuge_(8080507529)
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

The Independent report I mentioned earlier also gave this information:

Dr Eriksen said the slowly rotating mass of rubbish-laden water poses a risk to human health, too. Hundreds of millions of tiny plastic pellets, or nurdles – the raw materials for the plastic industry – are lost or spilled every year, working their way into the sea. These pollutants act as chemical sponges attracting man-made chemicals such as hydrocarbons and the pesticide DDT. They then enter the food chain. “What goes into the ocean goes into these animals and onto your dinner plate. It’s that simple,” said Dr Eriksen.

While this problem is massive, there is hope.  One of the most inspiring projects I have heard of was started by an 18 year old named Boyan Slat. His Ocean Cleanup Array concept “is likely a feasible and viable method to remove almost half the plastic from the North Pacific Garbage patch in 10 years, while being an estimated 7900x faster and 33x cheaper than conventional methods.”

*****

*****

Plastic waste is more than an ocean problem of course.  When I dig in the earth in the area behind my house, every scoop has some plastic in it. Some objects are fully formed, some are just fragments, but they are still there.  Think of how much plastic you see littered in your neighborhoods, in your city streets, on your beaches and in your parks.  Imagine how much plastic you and others put into the landfill.  It is estimated that a trillion plastic bags are used in the world each year.  Most of them end up in landfills or as litter.  How much of this plastic waste ends up in the stomachs of birds, animals, fish, and other creatures?  How does this waste effect the health of every life form?

Photo credit: Image Credit: Marac Kolodzinski
Photo credit: Marac Kolodzinski

We can all make a difference.  We can all have a hand in turning these problems around.  We are all needed.

Please help!

  • Reduce your use of plastic
  • Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose, Upcycle
  • Don’t litter.
  • Pick up other people’s litter.
  • Stay informed
  • Share this information with others

 *****

Mohandas_K._Gandhi,_portrait“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi

*****

 Written for Dungeon Prompts- Season 3, Week 6: Driven

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Protecting Mother Nature- Plastic

  1. I’ve read about Boyan Slat, and I hope people listen to him and work on reducing the amount of waste in the oceans. We kinda need the oceans to live, just as we need the rainforests. 🙂 As for how long it takes plastic to disintegrate (and there are so many different kinds of plastic…), well, the jury is still out on that. After all, it hasn’t even been around for 100 years, so how do we know how long it will take until we’ve seen it actually disintegrate? I do agree that we need to get it out of the ocean and the Earth, but hyperbole doesn’t help anyone.

    Like

    1. I agree that they can’t know for sure. I imagine they base that prediction on how many changes it undergoes during the time it has been around. Plastic liter bottles, which was what the number was referring to, probably haven’t changed at all.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

  2. I am guilty, far too often, of forgetting the purchased grocery shopping bags in the trunk of the car and bagging the groceries in the plastic bags. Though, I save and reuse for other purposes. Note to self, today and hereafter,”remember the bags in the trunk of the car.” I am a work in progress. But thank you for opening up the space, which prompts me to learn and do more.

    Like

    1. I also forget to bring the reusable bags into the store all too often, although grocery stores in Seattle are no longer allowed to use plastic bags. But I don’t want to be responsible for cutting down trees for the purpose of making paper bags either. I just put a big stash of the reusable bags in my car. That will keep me going for awhile!

      Like

  3. That was a great Ted talk. Thanks for sharing it. I took a Human Ecology class last semester, and that is when I became aware of the huge garbage dumps in the ocean. It is unbelievable the amount of plastic trash we produce and where it ends up. And from what I have read, even places that collect it for recycling often end up warehousing it – storing plastic trash. As you pointed out, it is a problem on land and in our oceans.

    I am so impressed that an 18-year-old has created a profitable way to clean up our oceans. I hope his plan gets put into action!

    An 11-year-old, Milo Cress, came up with an idea to reduce plastic trash by not using straws – Be Straw Free campaign. According to Simply Straws, a company that makes glass straws, 500 million disposable plastic straws are used per day, not including the little juice box straws. One simple thing, like not using a straw, can make a big difference. It’s also an easy way to teach children about plastic trash.

    Like

  4. Great post! I donated a small amount of money to the Midway Island kickstarter campaign a couple of years ago when it was still in production. The trailer breaks my heart. I went (nearly) plastic-free in 2011 after I heard about the ocean gyres. I don’t want to be responsible for plastic winding up in the stomachs of albatrosses or any other animals. And most of the products packaged in plastic are unnecessary. They are simply convenient. But what a disaster that convenience has created. It’s simply mind boggling. For wonderful tips on going plastic-free, check out Beth Terry’s blog http://www.myplasticfreelife.com. That’s how I got started. I’ve found the best ways to cut the plastic are shopping at the farmer’s market with my homemade cloth produce bags, buying from the bulk bins (also in my bags or glass jars) and cooking everything from scratch.

    Like

  5. Brilliant piece of writing which brings awareness.. I have used a similar video which was graphic in showing how those poor chicks were fed all that rubbish from their parents that they died on their nests on the beach..

    *Sigh*… Its so so got to stop… But you know what Karuna… If we do not alter our ways,, Then for sure Mother Nature will alter them for us… We are one organism.. At the moment we are the parasites sucking her dry… And if we are not careful… Mother Nature is sure going to find some anti-bodies to get rid of the irritants we are causing…

    Thank you for directing me here.. Enjoy your week..
    Blessings Sue xx

    Like

    1. Mother Nature is already reacting in major ways. And still we don’t learn. The other thing I focus on is cigarette butts, the biggest form of litter in the world. In the last two years our group has picked up almost 204,000 of them and send them to TerraCycle to be turned into plastic pallets!

      Liked by 1 person

I would love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s