One word: “PLASTICS” … OMG!

by admin on August 27, 2019

Plastics are an overwhelming problem for society

We want to say one word to you. Just one word: “Plastics”

Editorial from Morgantown Dominion Post, August 16, 2019

More than 50 years later, we are still reckoning with that one word.
In an iconic scene in the 1968 film, “The Graduate,” a brief dialogue ensues between the recent college graduate and a family friend at his graduation party.

Mr. McGuire: “I want to say one word to you. Just one word.” Benjamin: “Yes, sir.” Mr. McGuire: “Are you listening?” Benjamin: “Yes, I am.” Mr. McGuire: “Plastics.”

Many have over-analyzed that exchange from a score of perspectives but we’re going to keep it simple here. The future in 1968 was going to be in the booming plastics industry and Benjamin should look to a career in it.

Half a century later we’re wallowing, no, drowning in that industry’s pollution from the high seas to the lowlands.

To its credit, the Monongalia County Commission took the initiative on plastic recycling years ago and has just kept going with it. Ditto for the city of Morgantown contracting with its trash hauler to provide for single-stream recycling.

However, we’re losing the battle on plastics recycling and look to be harming the environment in our efforts. For instance, the good done by the recycling roundups and pickups is often undercut by carbon emissions of the hundreds of vehicles those tons of plastics arrive in. Not to mention the water used to clean them for recycling.

We recently read that despite Lane County, Ore.’s successful roundups it decided to turn over plastic recycling to its residents. After volunteers undergo training to serve as community collectors their goal is to collect two cubic yards of plastic before scheduling a date to drop it off for recycling.

Two cubic yards is approximately the size of a pickup truck bed or a jumbo refrigerator. Collectors may be neighbors, businesses, churches, civic groups or others. Yet, even if that program’s goal of 300 collectors is met it still won’t stem the tide of plastic needing to be recycled.

It’s estimated worldwide, only about 14% or 15% of all plastic is recycled. The problem it would seem is our society generates far more plastic than it needs. We realize there might be bigger issues than goals to collect No. 2, 4 and 5 plastic bottles, jugs, tubs and lids.

But any policies and programs to endlessly recycle single-use cutlery, bottles and straws is delusional without a new approach to this issue. Aiming for no-plastic use for the vast majority of people is unrealistic.

However, we can all do more to overcome our plastics’ addiction. Clearly, consumers may not know where to start, but if everyone takes some responsibility for this issue and government leads we can do better.

If we use less plastics to begin with and collect more of it we can make a greater difference. Otherwise, that one word 50 years from today may just spell, disaster.


See also: “Marium, The Dugong Who Charmed Thailand, Dies After Ingesting Plastic,” Amy Held, NPR, August 17, 2019

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy Held NPR August 27, 2019 at 10:43 pm

Marium, The Dugong Who Charmed Thailand, Dies After Ingesting Plastic

From a Report by Amy Held, National Public Radio, August 17, 2019

Marium, a lost baby dugong, gets a hug from an official of Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. The 8-month-old mammal, who captured hearts online, died after biologists believe she ate plastic waste.

Marium, an orphaned dugong cared for by biologists in southern Thailand, had what it takes to win over the Internet. Few could resist pictures and videos of the button-eyed mammal being fed sea grass and bottled milk and even being cuddled by her caregivers, all while seeming to wear a satisfied smile.

But it seems 8-month-old Marium fell victim to another modern-day phenomenon: the growing presence of plastic in the water. An autopsy performed Saturday found numerous tiny plastic pieces in her intestines, according to Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Dugongs are marine mammals related to the manatee that graze on sea grass in warm, shallow waters from East Africa to Australia. Their population is already threatened by habitat loss from water pollution and coastal development, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Marium was found motherless near a beach in southern Thailand in April. For months, veterinarians and volunteers would paddle out to her in canoes, feeding her multiple times a day and giving her checkups, reports The Associated Press.

Regularly updated videos, including one of her being sung to tenderly, allowed Marium’s fans to keep up with her progress, and she became a symbol of Thailand’s conservation efforts.

But last week, her caregivers found her listless and bruised, reports the AP.

In addition to Marium eating plastic, biologists believe she was pursued by an overly aggressive male during the mating season.

“We assume she wandered off too far from her natural habitat and was chased and eventually attacked by another male dugong or dugongs,” Jatuporn Buruspat, director-general of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, told the AP.

She was brought to an enclosure for treatment, but her condition worsened. A team of veterinarians tried for hours to revive her but to no avail. Marium was declared dead just after midnight on Saturday.

Nantarika Chansue was among the veterinarians who helped care for Marium, and she shared her heartbreak over the death in a Facebook post. “I used to hug you,” she wrote, alongside a picture of her embracing the animal.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation implored people to learn a lesson from Marium’s death and think twice about the accumulation of garbage in the world’s oceans.

Scientists say some 8 million metric tons of plastic are entering the ocean every year.


Jennifer Brandon September 6, 2019 at 6:56 pm

Multidecadal increase in plastic particles in coastal ocean sediments

From Jennifer A. Brandon, William Jones and Mark D. Ohman

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, USA.

Science Advances 04 Sep 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 9, eaax0587
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax0587

ABSTRACT — We analyzed coastal sediments of the Santa Barbara Basin, California, for historical changes in microplastic deposition using a box core that spanned 1834–2009.

The sediment was visually sorted for plastic, and a subset was confirmed as plastic polymers via FTIR (Fourier transform infrared) spectroscopy.

After correcting for contamination introduced during sample processing, we found an exponential increase in plastic deposition from 1945 to 2009 with a doubling time of 15 years.

This increase correlated closely with worldwide plastic production and southern California coastal population increases over the same period. Increased plastic loading in sediments has unknown consequences for deposit-feeding benthic organisms.

This increase in plastic deposition in the post–World War II years can be used as a geological proxy for the Great Acceleration of the Anthropocene in the sedimentary record.


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