aDayWithoutPlastic.org

It's a simple idea. One day without plastic. Just a day. Think you can do it? We do.

Here's what's at stake: your health and the future of the ocean.

So, live like you love the ocean. Make June 8th, World Ocean Day or September 19th, International Coastal Cleanup Day YOUR Day Without Plastic.

Or pick your day, tell us how it goes.

And get a pluckfastic.org sticker for your reusable water bottle now!

Plastic Videos

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Plastic Killing Fields

Plastic, the Pacific gyre and the move to bioplastics: HERE

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Marine Debris & Plastics: Environmental Concerns, Sources, Impacts and Solutions

Marine Debris & Plastics: Environmental Concerns, Sources, Impacts and Solutions; Journal of Polymers and the Environment; S. B. Sheavly and K. M. Register

(1) Sheavly Consultants, 3500 Virginia Beach Blvd., Suite 212, Virginia Beach, VA 23452, USA
(2) Clean Virginia Waterways, Longwood University, 201 High Street, Farmville, VA 23909, USA

Abstract Marine debris (marine litter) is one of the most pervasive and solvable pollution problems plaguing the world’s oceans and waterways. Nets, food wrappers, cigarette filters, bottles, resin pellets, and other debris items can have serious impacts on wildlife, habitat, and human safety. Successful management of the problem requires a comprehensive understanding of both marine debris and human behavior. Knowledge is key for consumers to make appropriate choices when it comes to using and disposing of waste items. Education and outreach programs, strong laws and policies, and governmental and private enforcement are the building blocks for a successful marine pollution prevention initiative. The plastic industry also has a role to play in educating its employees and customers, and searching for technological mitigation strategies.

Keywords Marine debris - Marine litter - Environmental impact - Plastic debris

Download the full article HERE

Monday, November 26, 2007

Paper or Plastic?

The new documentary film by Jimmy Wardell on our addiction to plastic and its consequences for our ocean planet, "Paper or Plastic?", will premiere at the Sundance film festival in January 2008. Keep an eye out for the exact time and venue and for it to come to a festival near you.

MORE HERE

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blue Ocean Society's Plastic facts

Plastic Facts:

Marine litter can be defined as any man-made object present in the marine environment

50% or more of marine litter is in some form of plastic. Examples include: raw plastic pellets, plastic bags and sheeting, monofilament fishing nets and multi-pack soda can holders

Plastics have been extremely beneficial for humans in that they are more durable, lightweight, cheap and versatile as opposed to traditional materials such as wood or glass.

However, it is exactly the lightweight nature of plastics which can make them deadly in the marine environment, as plastic items can float on the surface of the ocean or within the water column
Plastics are composed of long chains of hydrocarbons, which are hydrogen and carbon atoms that are bound together very tightly.

Micro-organisms such as plankton do not have the ability to break down these bonds and therefore plastic does not decompose easily.

Plastics are the most common man-made object sighted at sea. During a 1998 survey, 89% of the trash observed floating in the North Pacific Ocean was plastic

The raw form of plastics, called resin pellets, constitute a large part of marine debris, but unfortunately they are relatively unnoticed.

Many common plastic objects such as bottles, sheeting and Styrofoam cups were found on remote Arctic beaches of the southern Beaufort Sea.

In 1960, almost 6.3 billion pounds of plastic was produced in the United States. By the early 1970's the figure had tripled and continued to increase to a volume of approximately 50 billion pounds in 1988. This is more than 10 pounds of plastic for every person on earth!

The packaging industry used more than 14 billion pounds of plastics in 1987 with nearly all of that ending up as waste.

Plastic sheeting has been documented in the stomachs of sperm whales, round-toothed dolphins and a Curvier beaked whale.

Many sea turtles frequently swallow plastic bags when they mistake them for jelly fish, which is one of their favorite foods.

One turtle found in New York had actually consumed 590 feet of heavy duty fishing line!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Perhaps rubber duckies don't belong in tub

http://www.akaction.org/ published a press release and story in ADN:

Alaskans discover nasty things about plastic
Perhaps rubber duckies don't belong in tub

By MEGAN HOLLAND
mholland@adn.com

(Published: November 9, 2007)

Want to know what toxic chemicals are floating around in congressional candidate Ethan Berkowitz's blood? How about in an Alaska fisherman's urine? Both men participated in a national study on detecting what compounds from common household products stay with us.

The results? Not good for either of them, according to Alaska Community Action on Toxics. The nonprofit is pushing for legislation to ban what it says is poisoning us -- substances used mostly to make plastics.

The chemical groups tested have scary names: Phthalates, Bisphenol A (BPA), and Polybrominated diphenol ethers (PBDEs).

The first are used in vinyl products like shower curtains and rubber duckies. The second are used to make baby bottles and linings of metal food cans. The third are toxic flame-retardants added to plastic on things like televisions and computers.

PBDEs were found in very high rates in both Berkowitz, 45, and the Haines fisherman, 54-year-old Tim June, an environmental activist who co-founded Alaska Clean Water Alliance. Both volunteered with three other Alaskans and 30 other Americans for the national study called "Is It In Us?" done by a coalition working for greater regulation of manufacturers using the chemicals.

"It's no great source of pride that I have some of the highest levels among the participants across the 50 states," Berkowitz said after a press conference in Anchorage on Thursday.

"It could be that I spend too much time in front of the computer. It could be that my mattress has bad chemicals in it. It could be too much time in airplanes. It could be the cell phone. I just don't know what it is," said the former state House minority leader. "But it is more than my individual use of products that's contributing to this. Everyone of us that participated in this project has different personal habits and everyone of us has some level."

The hazardous products on display at the press conference included a Nalgene bottle, a toaster, a My Little Pony and a rain jacket.

The study sponsors say the chemicals have been linked to birth defects, cancer, infertility and a host of other health problems. But it's not clear if any of the pollutants is making anyone sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which says more research is needed.

Patricia Hunt, a molecular expert at Washington State University who was not part of the study, said BPAs are of particular concern because a growing body of literature shows that even a low dose may affect fetal development.

Phthalates, used to soften plastics, have been banned in toys in Europe. California has imposed a similar ban on certain types of Phthalates in toys beginning in 2009. California also has a ban on certain types of PBDEs which takes effect in 2008.

In Alaska, Rep. Andrea Doll, D-Juneau, plans to present a bill banning PBDEs.

Pamela Miller, executive director of the Alaska anti-toxic group, said the chemicals may be getting into us from food containers, or maybe from breathing them, for example, when we take hot showers and the plastics on the shower curtain are released. They are also found in household dust, she said.

"The problem is they're everywhere in our environment," Hunt said. "You can't actually see when you are being exposed. ...We can't go completely crazy because it's impossible to really remove plastics from our lives. But we can think differently about how we use it."

She no longer microwaves food in plastic containers, she said. She also doesn't put them in her dishwasher because the heat may be releasing the chemicals.

The other Alaskans who volunteered to be tested were Cathy Rexford, the Alaska director of Native Movement; Lori Townsend, an Alaska News Nightly journalist; and Democratic congressional candidate Diane Benson.


Find Megan Holland online at adn.com/contact/mholland or call 257-4343.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Did Missing Turtles Eat Plastic Bags?

Did Missing Turtles Eat Plastic Bags?

Posted September 14th, 2007 (TOPP)

George Shillinger in Monterey, CA -- Mistaking them for jellyfish, Stephanie, Windy, Drexelina and Champira ate a bunch of plastic bags. Ingesting the bags weakened them because they were unable to digest their real food. They couldn’t avoid the nets, or they starved.

One of the divas of the Great Turtle Race, Stephanie Colburtle, hasn’t sent us a message for more than 100 days. We’re a little concerned about her and three other turtles: Windy, Champira and Drexelina. The other seven turtles are well on their way to their distant feeding grounds off Peru and Chile. This week, we’re looking at all the possibilities of what could have happened to the missing turtles.

“Last year on the beach in Costa Rica, a turtle defecated a plastic bag,” says TOPP researcher Jim Spotila, who’s been monitoring leatherbacks at Playa Grande, Costa Rica, for decades. The Drexel University professor founded the Leatherback Trust to save the leatherback turtle from extinction. “So I think they encounter them quite often. They pass them through their digestive system, or they get caught in their gut. They could starve to death. When we do necropsies on turtles that get caught in nets and drown, we find plastic bags. Are they weak because they haven’t been able to eat? Is that why they get tangled up and get caught? It’s hard to tell.”

The tons of plastic that’s dumped into the oceans ends up concentrating in giant eddys the size of football fields. Here's an animation from the GreenPeace Web site that shows how plastic accumulates in the ocean over time.

And here are photos of plastic bags taken from the stomach of a green turtle that died, plus pieces of netting, and, with the bags laid out, a compressed piece of styrofoam.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

On September 15th, join more than a half a million volunteers around the world who will hit the beaches and shores of the ocean, lakes and rivers and make them cleaner.

Take 15 seconds and sign up at: www.coastalcleanup.org

Our ocean is becoming a place full of plastic as every minute we throw away more than a million oil-based plastic bags, consume mountains of plastic bottles and heaps of single-use stryofoam ware. These are among the leading items picked up by the Coastal Cleanup Army of volunteers.


Please, please join us. You'll meet people who care, just like you. And you'll learn about all the things that end up, eventually, in the ocean (or ALMOST in the ocean in this case!)
And then you can start finding ways to get non-essential plastic out of your life. It's not so hard.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Scientific American: Plastic from plants

Turning Plants into Plastic—And Replacing Oil in the Process

A new process may allow plants to become the root of chemicals, plastics and fuels rather than oil

By David Biello

Glucose is the main carbohydrate product of photosynthesis and a primary source of energy in most living things. It is a sugar and the human body's main source of fuel. And, because of its ubiquity, it is a leading candidate to replace oil as an abundant source for fuels, plastics and other petroleum products.

Unfortunately, converting the stuff into useable forms remains a difficult process. For example, using acid catalysts to transform it into a basic building block for plastics also yields a vat of impurities (such as levulinic and formic acids). But now chemists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Wash., have come up with a way to efficiently and cleanly turn such naturally occurring sugars into plastics, making Tupperware from trees a real possibility.

Chemist Conrad Zhang and colleagues at PNNL tested a variety of metal catalysts—compounds that speed chemical reactions—in their search for an efficient method of transforming glucose and other natural sugars into hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a molecule that can easily be manipulated into a variety of chemicals and plastics.

"Because glucose can be derived directly from cellulose and starch, it is nature's most abundant carbohydrate building block," Zhang says. "HMF from renewable carbohydrates, such as fructose and glucose, is a versatile platform chemical from which hundreds of other chemicals can be produced."

The chemists detail in Science how they used metal chlorides—chromium, copper and other metals paired with two or more chlorine atoms—to transform 70 percent of glucose and nearly 90 percent of fructose into HMF. They report that chromium chloride (CrCl2) worked best, apparently by boosting a sugar molecule's ability to open up and shift atoms in its structure as it changed form, although the exact mechanism remains unknown, Zhang says.

The research could become the basis of a process that turns biomass such as trees, cornstalks and algae into feedstock for chemicals, plastics and fuels at roughly 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), which is a lot cooler than the 600 degrees C (1,112 degrees F) needed for oil refining or the high temperatures (as well as pressure) such oil must undergo when it is formed naturally.

"A number of steps, including process development and optimization, have to take place before full-scale commercialization," Zhang notes. "It may take several years to reach that stage."

Ultimately, the plastic in a fork used at a backyard barbeque may be as directly plant-based as charcoal in the grill and the chef's polyester apron. "Direct utilization of cellulosic biomass for chemicals and fuel production is a challenging goal," Zhang adds. "Our results point to a potential process for the production of HMF from the most abundant renewable sources."