Reducing Plastic Pollution is an Essential Goal for Everyone

by Duane Nichols on December 17, 2018

Plastic pollution is now in the Great Blue Hole

Inspiring Interview Urges You to Cut Plastic Consumption

From an Article by Jordan Simmons, EcoWatch.com, December 14, 2018

In a recent expedition, Gaelin Rosenwaks found plastic in the Great Blue Hole in Belize, Central America.

Did you know that 2018 was the year for plastic pollution awareness. One good aspect of the plastic crisis is the fact that we can solve it. Getting involved with solutions is an easy way to have our voices heard globally.

“The bottom line with plastic pollution is that there’s plastic everywhere,” said Gaelin Rosenwaks, founder of Global Ocean Exploration, during an EcoWatch Live interview on Facebook Thursday. The interactive live interview with Rosenwaks—who just got back from an expedition diving deep into the Great Blue Hole in Belize—inspired EcoWatchers to educate themselves on plastic pollution and commit to solutions.

“It doesn’t matter where you go … whether you are in the open sea … or at the bottom of the blue hole, you’re going to see plastic,” said Rosenwaks who brings cutting-edge research from global expeditions to the public through film and photography.

Education is the first step. We must understand and acquire the tools we need to solve this pervasive issue. Eliminating single use-plastic when possible is critically important, but to double that effort, we must survey how many items we use that are wrapped in plastic and work towards a zero-waste lifestyle.

Each time we refuse plastic whether it’s single use or plastic packaging, we are planting a seed for witnesses or companies to examine.

“The thing about plastic that’s a blessing in disguise is that it’s something that every single individual can do and have an impact,” said Rosenwaks. “Showing that as a consumer you care will hopefully drive industries to care and make changes.”

Tune in to the conversation above to find out more about solutions to plastic pollution and to hear from two passionate individuals who are not only tackling the problem of plastic pollution, but creating a better world for future generations through awareness and commitment.

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Depths of Belize’s Great Blue Hole, the World’s Largest Sinkhole, to Be Explored by Submarine

Information from The Weather Channel, November 29, 2018

Belize’s Great Blue Hole is one of the most awe-inspiring yet mysterious places on the planet, stretching over 1,000 feet across, more than 400 feet deep and standing out as a bold blue blob amid the light blue waters of Lighthouse Reef. And now, for the first time, we’re going to find out what it looks like below the surface.

Global entrepreneur Richard Branson and Fabien Cousteau — grandson of Jacques Cousteau, who took a one-man submarine into the Great Blue Hole in 1972, according to the USGS — are taking a submarine to the depths of the sinkhole this December to explore part of the Earth that’s never been seen before.

The underwater sinkhole sits some 60 miles off the coast of Belize City and is part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Central America.

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SEE THIS NEW NEWS REPORT:

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Cleaning up the plastic in the ocean – 60 Minutes – CBS News

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

CBS 60 Minutes December 17, 2018 at 6:54 am

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-great-pacific-garbage-patch-isnt-what-you-think-60-minutes/

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t what you think

60 Minutes producers clear up misconceptions about the concentration of litter — including plastic — in the ocean between California and Hawaii

The world’s largest collection of ocean debris is also the most famous, but its name, the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” is a misnomer.

For starters, it’s not one giant patch. (It is worse!)

“It’s not a mass. It’s nothing you can see from space, all these things one’s heard,” 60 Minutes producer Michael Gavshon said in the video above. “But in fact it’s just a giant soup, a gyre. It’s a whirlpool of tiny fragments of plastic in the ocean at various depths.”

Along with 60 Minutes associate producer David Levine, Gavshon produced a report this week on the plague of plastic in the ocean. While on Midway Atoll, they spoke with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Kevin O’Brien, who oversees marine debris removal in the part of the Pacific between California and Hawaii. O’Brien said that when he sailed through the Garbage Patch, he noticed an uptick in the amount of plastic he was seeing all around him, but it wasn’t quite an island of trash.

“I saw lots of things floating in the water — a large derelict fishing net, a ghost net, or I might see a bottle or a crate” he said. “Even if the debris isn’t so intense that it’s a floating mat of trash, even if it’s more disperse than that, it could still hold an enormous amount of plastic.”

O’Brien said plastics floating in the ocean are exposed to several environmental factors — including waves, reefs and rocks — that cause them to break down into smaller fragments, which are difficult to clean.

“The plastics spread out,” Levine said. “It’s under the surface. It’s not an easy thing to mop up. If it were a garbage island, I think it probably would be much easier to clean up.”

Photo: Kevin O’Brien of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration CBS News

To watch the 60 Minutes two-part report about plastics pollution, click below:

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Cleaning up the plastic in the ocean – 60 Minutes – CBS News

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-great-pacific-garbage-patch-cleaning-up-the-plastic-in-the-ocean-60-minutes/

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Ben & Jerry January 29, 2019 at 11:54 am

‘We Can’t Recycle Our Way Out of This Problem’:

Ben & Jerry’s Bans Single-Use Plastics – EcoWatch.com

Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s announced major efforts on Monday to quickly curb its use of single-use plastics. By April of this year, its 600-plus Scoop Shops around the world will only offer wooden spoons, rather than plastic ones. Paper straws will also only be available upon request.

All together, the move is expected to prevent 2.5 million plastic straws and 30 million plastic spoons from being handed out each year, Jenna Evans, Ben & Jerry’s Global Sustainability Manager, said.

“We’re not going to recycle our way out of this problem,” she said. “We, and the rest of the world, need to get out of single-use plastics.

https://www.ecowatch.com/ben-and-jerrys-no-plastic-2627340489.html

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Shelia Carpenter January 29, 2019 at 9:56 pm

Dear Friends & Concerned Citizens

From Shelia Carpenter, Seattle, WA

Ban styrofoam and single use plastics

As awareness of the environmental harm caused by single-use styrofoam and plastic products grows across the U.S., people like us are taking action to protect our state’s natural wonders. A petition is calling on Washington’s governor to enact a statewide ban on these products to protect the state’s coastline and streams for future generations. The move would be a big step in preserving the natural beauty of a region of the country visited by millions of Americans. We have 56,000 signatures.

From our beautiful coasts, to our rainforests, our mountains, our farmlands and deserts: Washington State is rich in natural beauty. It’s time to take bold measures to protect it for future generations. We urge you to pass legislation that will ban the sale and use of styrofoam and single use plastics in WA State.

Styrofoam and single use plastics are relatively new products of convenience and are not critical consumer goods. There are less harmful alternatives, and we need to legislate this switch away from harmful fossil fuel-based disposable goods to keep the economic impact equitable across businesses statewide.

It is time we commit to phasing out these environmentally harmful products in order to protect our fields, streams, coasts, wildlife and reduce the legacy of environmental degradation that our kids will inherit.

Shelia Carpenter, Seattle, WA

https://www.change.org/p/jay-inslee-ban-styrofoam-and-single-use-plastics-in-washington-state/sign

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EcoWatch.com March 24, 2019 at 11:09 am

Whale Dies After Swallowing 88 Pounds of Plastic Bags

Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch.com, March 18, 2019

D’Bone Collector Museum head Darrell Blatchley shows plastic found inside the stomach of a Cuvier’s beaked whale in the Philippines this weekend. – / AFP / Getty Images

Yet another whale has died after ingesting plastic bags. A young male Cuvier’s beaked whale was found washed up in Mabini, Compostela Valley in the Philippines Friday, CNN reported. When scientists from the D’ Bone Collector Museum in Davao investigated the dead whale, they found it had died of “dehydration and starvation” after swallowing plastic bags―40 kilograms (approximately 88 pounds) worth of them!

“This whale had the most plastic we have ever seen in a whale. It’s disgusting,” the natural history museum said in a Facebook post Sunday. “Action must be taken by the government against those who continue to treat the waterways and ocean as dumpsters.”

Museum staff said they found 16 rice sacks, for “banana plantation style bags” and several shopping bags in the whale’s stomach.

“I was not prepared for the amount of plastic,” D’ Bone Collector Museum President and Founder and marine scientist Darrell Blatchley told CNN.

This is only the most recent incident in which a whale has died after ingesting massive amounts of plastic. In November of last year, a sperm whale washed up in Indonesia with 13 pounds of plastic in its stomach. Another, a pilot whale, died in Thailand in June of 2018 after ingesting 17 pounds of plastic, including 80 plastic bags.

Blatchley explained to CNN one reason why plastic is such a big problem for cetaceans, including dolphins and whales. The marine mammals get all of their water from the food that they eat, so when plastic blocks their ability to eat large amounts of food, they die of thirst as well as hunger.

Blatchley told The Guardian he had examined 57 whales and dolphins who had died because of consuming plastic in 10 years.

“Hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, seals and turtles are killed by ocean plastic pollution every year, including single-use plastics and abandoned plastic gear from the fishing industry,” World Animal Protection campaigner Peter Kemple Hardy told CNN.

While plastic pollution is a major problem worldwide, it is especially bad in southeast Asia. A 2017 Ocean Conservancy study found that more plastic enters the oceans from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam than from all other countries combined, The Guardian reported.

However, the U.S., Canada and Europe have long relied on Asia to recycle their plastic waste. After China banned the imports of plastic waste in January 2018, the U.S. began shipping to Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, a Greenpeace investigation found.

https://www.ecowatch.com/whale-plastic-bags-2632014361.html/

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Carol Roig February 14, 2020 at 10:29 am

https://riverreporter.com/stories/the-bigger-problem-with-plastics,35774

The bigger problem with plastics

By CAROL ROIG, River Reporter, February 12, 2020

By now, most New Yorkers are aware that a ban on single-use plastic bags will go into effect on Sunday, March 1. While there has been some criticism of the bill’s numerous exemptions, it’s a good start to reducing the 23 billion single-use bags state residents use each year; that amounts to more than 1,000 per person according to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Building on the regulatory trend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently proposed limits on another significant source of plastic pollution: single-use food containers and packing peanuts made from expanded polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam.

The full picture of plastic pollution is pretty horrifying, not only because of the sheer volume of plastic we discard every year but also the health impacts of the material’s life cycle. Much of this litter makes its way to the oceans, spoiling beaches and clogging waterways around the world. Whales, fish, birds, turtles and other wildlife die each year after ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic waste. Plastic never biodegrades—it just keeps breaking down into increasingly smaller pieces called microplastics that absorb a range of chemical pollutants, travel up the food chain to our plates and our drinking water, and accumulate in our bodies. A new study published in Environmental Science & Technology, the journal of the American Chemical Society, synthesized data from 26 separate studies to calculate that the average American’s annual microplastics consumption ranges from 74,000 to 121,000 particles each year. Americans who drink bottled water for most of their daily intake may be ingesting an additional 90,000 microplastic particles annually. The study’s authors believe these values are likely underestimated.

Plastic & Health, a study published under the auspices of a consortium led by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), provides a comprehensive analysis of the health impacts of the full life cycle of plastics: from the 170-plus chemicals used in fracking to produce fossil fuel feedstocks; through the refining process, exposures to consumers and toxins released as plastic waste is processed and managed; and the long term effects on air, soil, water and human health. The study documents impacts such as cancer, neurotoxicity, reproductive and developmental problems, immune system impairment, damage to the skin and eyes, and respiratory and gastrointestinal problems, all especially intense for workers in the industry and people who live near plastics facilities.

The climate impact of plastics has received less attention, but CIEL’s companion study, Plastic & Climate, tracks greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from every stage of plastic production, use and disposal, including waste to energy. The report points out that “chemical manufacturing is profoundly energy-intensive, and the production of plastic feedstocks and resins is the most energy-intensive sub-sector of the chemical industry.” The authors estimate that the production and incineration of plastic over the past year alone will add more than 850 million metric tons of GHG to the atmosphere, equal to the emissions from 189 500-megawatt coal power plants. Given the industry’s plans for expansion, the report estimates that by 2050, GHG emissions from the plastic lifecycle could reach over 56 gigatons. This is equivalent to 10 to 13 percent of the entire remaining carbon budget available if we are to maintain global warming below the below 1.5°C degrees threshold. The International Energy Agency’s 2018 report, The Future of Plastics, calls this expansion “one of the key ‘blind spots’ in the global energy debate… Petrochemicals are rapidly becoming the largest driver of global oil consumption. They are set to account for more than a third of the growth in oil demand to 2030, and nearly half to 2050. Petrochemicals are also poised to consume an additional 56 billion cubic meters of natural gas by 2030, equivalent to about half of Canada’s total gas consumption today.”

Facing a decline in the use of oil and natural gas for energy generation and transportation because of progress with renewables and electric vehicles, the industry is looking to petrochemicals to perpetuate their profits, and they’ve invested more than $200 billion in the sector over the past decade, according to the American Chemistry Council. Ethane, a by-product of natural gas, is a plastics feedstock that the industry is particularly keen to exploit, given its plenitude because of the fracking boom. Long centered in Texas and Louisiana, the industry is moving aggressively into the Ohio River corridor to create a plastics hub that will exploit the Marcellus Shale; it’s being hailed as “the new coal.” Royal Dutch Shell’s new polymers plant, under construction near Pittsburgh, is the first of several ethane crackers planned for Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. These multi-billion dollar facilities will turn ethane into ethylene and polyethylene pellets, the raw material for most plastics and, according to climate experts, they could also wipe out much of the GHG reduction gains we have achieved in recent years. The US Department of Energy is spearheading $1.9 billion in loan guarantees to develop underground storage of ethane, and Pennsylvania provided roughly $1.65 billion in tax incentives for the Shell facility.

That is the bigger picture. Despite admirable local and state efforts, we are going down the wrong road with plastic production. We need to eliminate single-use plastics and all non-essential plastics throughout the economy. We need to make producers fully responsible for the full life cycle of the material. We should stop making virgin plastic altogether, and invest in innovative recycling technologies to make essential items like medical devices. We should ban incineration of all plastic waste, including waste to energy, because the GHG impact and toxic exposures for host neighborhoods are just too damaging. We should include workers’ health risks in our cost/benefit analyses before awarding giant subsidies to the plastic industry.

We grew up with plastic, but we need to face the environmental damage that comes with throwaway convenience.

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