Oceans of Plastic Stew

July 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Environment, Front Page, Litter, Ocean, Slideshow

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It’s mighty easy to throw away a plastic bag or plastic cup-lid, and then think nothing of it. Into the wastebasket it goes — out of sight, out of mind — and then into the trash bin, and then into the waste truck, then to the landfill. Plastic indefinitely clogging our terrestrial landfills constitutes its own problem, but an alarming amount of this detritus ends up in our drainage systems. It may take years, but these scraps may eventually find themselves adrift in the ocean — ultimate receiver of the continents’ freshwater output — thousands of miles from their factory origin, let alone the site of their discarding.

In recent years, firsthand observation has borne out the predictions of oceanographers: Much of this marine litter, as it’s called, ultimately turns up contained in and by the loops of rotating currents called gyres that mark each ocean basin. The spin of the earth and the heat-driven coasting of winds help create these prevailing current configurations. Ocean-borne debris is drawn into the encircling “highways” of the gyre, then edged into the calm waters of its center — where they remain….

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redleaf Water Introduces Biodegradable and Recyclable Water Bottles

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One of the strongest arguments many consumers make against bottled water is the massive amount of waste that ends up clogging our waterways when bottles are discarded as litter. To counter this problem, redleaf Water, a Canadian based, premium bottled water company, recently released what they’re calling “the industry’s first biodegradable and recyclable water bottle.”

It’s not a perfect answer. Redleaf Water’s bottle biodegrades in landfills over slightly less than four years in most conditions, according to marketing manager Patrick Hillis. But four years is much better than the predicted hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of years that some researchers claim.

“The bottle can also be recycled regularly,” Hillis explains. “It won’t harm any of the other plastics.” …

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Cap Recycling Project Earns State Fair Invitation for Young Environmentalist

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Many of us begin the journey to environmentalism as adults. Others start when they are still children. Recently, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) had the privilege of interviewing 11-year-old Jack Potter, a soon-to-be 6th grader, who began his environmental journey by collecting and recycling #5 plastic bottle caps. Jack didn’t just collect a few bottle caps, he saved nearly 1,000. And this week at his county fair, he earned the right to exhibit his project at the Iowa State Fair. Jack’s determination to make a difference impressed us, so we asked him to share a bit of his story. — Publisher

BPGL: What was the purpose of your recycling project?

POTTER: My goal for the project was to raise awareness of the fact that plastic caps are almost never recycled. When they’re not recycled, they end up in landfills or in the ocean, and that’s bad for the environment…

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Surfers Against Sewage Sponsors “Barefoot Friendly Beach Cleaning Tour”

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Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is a volunteer organization dedicated to “clean, safe recreational water, free from sewage effluents, toxic chemicals, nuclear waste and marine litter.” Even landlocked folks like Joe and me, here in the Iowa Heartland, are joining the cause. We all need clean water. And we want beaches that are safe enough to walk on with bare feet. But clean beaches are growing scarce. Stories of medical waste, plastic bottles, cigarette butts, raw sewage, and disposable diapers make walking even remote beaches potentially unsafe and, often, unappealing.

In the next few days, SAS and Barefoot Wine and Bubbly will be hosting a beach cleanup tour on the shores of Britain. Join fellow environmentalists from 3 to 5 P.M. at the sites listed below. According to SAS’s Andy Cummins, as posted on the SAS website, “[V]olunteers can expect the afternoon clean-up sessions will kick off with a full introduction and briefing from the respected eco-campaigners at SAS. Each volunteer will then be given gloves and a rubbish bag and the marine litter-picking will commence. All volunteers need bring is suitable clothing for the weather”…

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Beverage Container Laws Expanding in Several States

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When bottled water first appeared on product shelves, I initially thought it was a waste of money. I held off for a long time. Eventually, like many of you, I saw the relatively small investment as a fair exchange for the convenience of portability. It was an attractive lure. I bit. And I bought. And bought. And bought.

Now that I’m deeply steeped in environmental issues, I have come to understand the disaster of bottled water. Aside from questions about the quality of the water and the safety of the plastic bottles themselves — significant issues, for sure — there’s the problem of waste. Millions of plastic water bottles get tossed in our waterways, lie smashed on our roads, litter our green spaces, or end up in our landfills. In the best-case scenario, they get recycled into other products.

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Notes from India: “Clean Lucknow, Green Lucknow”

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I’ve spent my entire life in India, but have yet to see a trashcan anywhere on the streets. I guess that’s the reason why there’s a big pile of garbage at most street corners, especially in the residential areas. My family, and others in our neighborhood in Lucknow, will burn any garbage left on the street, so there are no smells, no germs in the air, and no filth outside the house.

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Notes from Serbia: Ending Litter through Laws and Education

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Blue Planet Green Living invites our readers around the world to send us reports about the environment in their home countries. In the first of the “Notes from ….” series, we published a post from Jagdish Poudel, an environmental science student from Nepal. Today, we are pleased to share a report from Snezana Pavlovic, a 25-year-old student of Balkan languages from Niš, Serbia. “Avoiding pollution and ecology are my passion and hobby,” Snezana writes.

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Peace Corps Volunteer Teaches Green Living in Namibia

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Seated across from me is a gentle, silver-haired woman. She speaks in soft tones, gesturing slightly from time to time. Her manner is warm and welcoming. You could easily call her mild-mannered. But don’t let her appearance fool you. Miriam Kashia is a force to be reckoned with when there’s a job to be done. And that’s just the spirit with which she tackled her recent Peace Corps assignment in Namibia, home to some of the world’s most impoverished people.

Kashia returned to the United States a year ago, in January 2008. She’s had time to reflect on her experience, and to see from a distance the effects of the work she did half a world away. I interviewed her in her Iowa City home.

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