Wednesday, August 5, 2009

the great pacific garbage patch



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You can also check out this documentary on The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, on VBS.tv (the first three, of eleven, are currently online.) video one | video two | video three

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And here's an interesting observation, from one viewer:

"My first thought after watching was “I am NEVER using plastic again!”. But seriously folks, that is not an easy thing to do. The computer I’m typing on right now is made of plastic. My glasses have plastic in the frames. I’m not sure it would even be possible to replace everything in my life that is made with plastic (my car, for example). While I applaud the efforts of bloggers like Fake Plastic Fish and Life Less Plastic the sad reality is that this problem – the toxic plastic garbage wasteland of the North Pacific gyre – is not going to go away because a few of us choose to use stainless steel tupperware or cloth grocery bags. The problem is not only global (want another freaky thought? there are four other oceanic Gyres on Earth…) , but goes to the very nature of our society and its dependence on a material that is non-biodegradable and unmanageable as waste. It’s bad enough that we Westerners created this stuff and then became totally dependent on it, but now we are exporting our disposable plastic lifestyle to countries that lack curbside recycling and waste management facilities.

But even if we were to recycle every piece of plastic manufactured there would still be the issue of garbage (ever seen what happens to the area around a McDonalds restaurant, despite the presence of multiple waste bins?). There’s also those darned nurdles – the tiny plastic pellets that are melted down and then coloured and moulded into the final product – which escape from train cars and truck beds, blowing in the wind like dust, and collecting all over the earth’s surface including the oceans.

I think what needs to happen is we need to make this issue so well-known that people raise enough of a stink about it to prompt some change. People need to start viewing plastic the same way we view non-dolphin friendly tuna. Our society needs to invent/find materials to replace plastic that can be disposed of responsibly and which do not pose such a threat to life on this planet.

In the meantime, I’m going to do my bit by trying to cut all unnecessary plastic out of my life (starting with my shampoo). I have written in the past about being plastic bag free; Google around and you’ll come up with many more suggestions and tips. And if you feel overwhelmed, as I did when I first watched that documentary, just take a deep breath and say to yourself “One step at a time”… Spread the word, and hopefully one day the ecological horror show that is Garbage Island will become simply one more embarrassing episode of human history that we somehow managed to survive without going extinct.
- Rural Aspirations"

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In one great note that made me happy this weekend, I've discovered that there are a few cashiers at Target that now, even if I don't pull out my reusable tote/don't have it with me at that moment the cashier will not place the item in a bag, but simply put it on the counter while I finish checking out. (Sometimes I forget it, rarely; but sometimes. In those cases though, I ALWAYS carry the item out bagless. Always.) They actually recognize me as the "reusable tote guy!" and I don't even have to yell out quickly "I have my own bag!" anymore! Yes, see, you can teach old cashiers new tricks (or even young cashiers, or middle-age cashiers, or...!)

4 comments:

Sam said...

Out here in San Francisco, I've been asked for every purchase if I want a bag. Nice change....

Nathan Aaron said...

That's cause plastic bags are banned in SF! YAY! Wish the rest of the country would catch up...

Rebecca Welch said...

If people put more thought into their purchases all the way round, there would be less plastic coming in to throw out.
Sure the stainless steel blender costs more-but it will last longer and isn't made of...plastic.
See what I'm saying?
*wink*

Anonymous said...

What bums me out is that for every one of us in the USA using cloth grocery bags, there are 10 kids in China or Mexico drinking their first bottle of Coke in a plastic bottle... and they don't have the option to recycle.

Thanks for the lead on the VBS.TV vid.

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