Imagine the world without anger, without greed. We have the power, the tools, the skills and the resources right now to build a peaceful world, where people live in harmony with the Earth and each other. This blog explores ways we are doing just that, one post, one change, one day at a time. Join me. Tell your stories. Ask for help. Spread your ideas for making the vision real and, well, ordinary.

Monday, May 17, 2010

War on Garbage: Spittin' out plastic

Typical garbage bin at our house
© L. Kathryn Grace
One hundred million tons of plastic. That's how much is estimated to be floating in the great Pacific garbage patch, now bigger than Texas.

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.


Sharon L. Grace said...

Holy Crap! I will join the challenge!

Hayden said...

It's a good challenge! I look forward to observing and listening to ways you find to beat it. Don't think I have too much, and what's there I'm perplexed by - not sure how to get rid of. So I will be listening!

and there is, alas, a floating plastic island in the Atlantic Ocean too.

Paul said...

We recycle all plastics (1-7) and emptied the bin last Saturday. In a few days I'll have one week's worth.

Two or three years ago we toured the local recycling facility and leaned that NO plastic is recycled in the US. It's all loaded on ships and sent to China. In this country we make new plastic because it's slightly less expensive than recycling the materials.

I am interested in ways to reduce plastic usage. Reusable bags, take containers and buy bulk detergent and pet food, make yogurt at home, use tooth powder rather than toothpaste and .....? That list is too short.

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