Typical garbage bin at our houseOne hundred million tons of plastic. That's how much is estimated to be floating in the great Pacific garbage patch, now bigger than Texas.
© L. Kathryn Grace
© L. Kathryn Grace
Ocean faring birds eat it till their bodies, unable to pass the stuff, burst. Three hundred year old giant sea turtles get entangled in plastic ropes and wash ashore strangled. Bad, bad news, and we're the culprits. I don't want to be one of them any more.
On Earth Day, when I first declared war on garbage, a whole lot of plastic was visible in my trash can--including the disposable liner! None of it is recyclable. Of course we hope our plastic and other non-recyclable, non-compostable trash is buried in the landfill, where presumably it can do no harm.
You believe that, right? Once in the landfill, our trash, even our plastics can do no harm? Yet, sadly, somehow our plastic throwaways end up in our rivers and oceans where fish, giant sea turtles, pelicans and other sea birds get tangled in it, eat it, and die. Take a look.
Thanks to @pauljimerson, from whom I first saw the video when he retweeted @DianeN56and @PlasticPollutes, who discovered the video by @Plomomedia. (It takes a village.)
Holy crap, Batman, plastic is forever!
Is it? Science has discovered that some plastics break down in the ocean. That sounds like good news. Not so fast. According to Carolyn Barry of National Geographic News, science also found that these disintegrating plastics are "leaching potentially toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A into the seas, possibly threatening ocean animals, and us."
We're the last stop on the food chain--whales in the sea, people on land. We get all that accumulated BPA and who knows what other toxins unraveling from those slippery polymers. What will it do to life on this planet? What will it do to our children? And theirs?
Taking the Fake Plastic Fish challenge
So this week, the Grace household is tackling plastic. First step: We're taking the Fake Plastic Fish Challenge. Instead of tossing that berry container into the recycling bin or that empty frozen peas bag into the trash, we're going to set them all aside in a separate container. Next Monday, I'll lay them out and take a photograph of our collected plastics and post a writeup on the Fake Plastic Fish web site. We've been cutting back on plastics for awhile now, so it will be interesting to see how much we gather.
I'd love some company on this challenge. Will you join me? If you're interested, and can spare the time, be sure to check out the rules first. There aren't too many. Do let me know in the comments below whether you plan on participating. Either way, I'd like to hear about your relationship to plastic and what you think we can do to solve these problems.
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.