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!

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Warning on plastic's toxic threat

By David Shukman

BBC environment correspondent, Midway

Plastic waste in the oceans poses a potentially devastating long-term toxic threat to the food chain, according to marine scientists.

Studies suggest billions of microscopic plastic fragments drifting underwater are concentrating pollutants like DDT.

Most attention has focused on dangers that visible items of plastic waste pose to seabirds and other wildlife.

But researchers are warning that the risk of hidden contamination could be more serious.

The thing that's most worrisome about the plastic is its tenaciousness, its durability --Matt Brown, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Dr Richard Thompson of the University of Plymouth has investigated how plastic degrades in the water and how tiny marine organisms, such as barnacles and sand-hoppers, respond.

He told the BBC: "We know that plastics in the marine environment will accumulate and concentrate toxic chemicals from the surrounding seawater and you can get concentrations several thousand times greater than in the surrounding water on the surface of the plastic.

"Now there's the potential for those chemicals to be released to those marine organisms if they then eat the plastic."

'Magnets for poison'

Once inside an organism, the risk is that the toxins may then be transferred into the organism itself.

"There are different conditions in the gut environment compared to surrounding sea water and so the conditions that cause those chemicals to accumulate on the surface of the plastic may well be reversed - leading to a release of those chemicals when the plastic is eaten."

According to Dr Thompson, the plastic particles "act as magnets for poisons in the ocean".

In an experiment involving plastic carrier bags immersed off a jetty in Plymouth harbour, he is assessing the time taken for them to fragment.

In related projects, he and colleagues have also added plastic powder to aquarium sediment to establish how much is ingested by marine life. Research on stretches of shoreline has shown that, at the microscopic level, plastic pollution is far worse than feared.

In a typical sample of sand, one-quarter of the total weight may be composed of plastic particles.

Studies have found that plastic traces have been identified on all seven continents.

Here on Midway, Matt Brown of the US Fish and Wildlife Service echoes the warnings of a long-term threat from plastic waste.

"The thing that's most worrisome about the plastic is its tenaciousness, its durability. It's not going to go away in my lifetime or my children's lifetimes.

"The plastic washing up on the beach today… if people don't take it away it'll still be here when my grandchildren walk these beaches."

Story from BBC NEWS

Friday, March 21, 2008

Seattle bans bottled water!

City of Seattle won't buy bottled water

By Sharon Pian Chan
Seattle Times staff reporter

To cut down on trash and help the environment, the city of Seattle will stop buying bottled water, Mayor Greg Nickels announced Thursday.

The city could save as much as $58,000 a year, officials said, by not purchasing bottled water for events or water-cooler jugs for its workers.

"It is to really highlight the fact that Seattle has one of the best municipal water supplies in the country," said Marty McOmber, the mayor's spokesman. "When you look at the cost of bottled water, both in terms of financial costs and costs on the environment, it's a pretty clear choice that using city water is a much better choice."

Nickels on the Thursday signed an executive order, which says that producing bottles for U.S. consumers required more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the fuel required to transport the bottles. Only one of 10 bottles is recycled, according to the city's announcement.

The mayor also said that bottled water costs about $8 per gallon, compared to a gallon of tap water that costs a fraction of a penny.

Tap water in Seattle comes from the rain and snowpack in Cedar River and Tolt River watersheds, which are protected natural areas.

City workers still will be allowed to bring bottled water to work. Vendors who operate on city property, such as KeyArena and Seattle Center, will still be allowed to sell bottled water. The city also will make exceptions in emergencies.

Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or schan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

SUPPORT LETTER FOR PROPOSED POLYSTYRENE FOAM ORDINANCE



March 19, 2008

Members of the Monterey Regional Waste Management Board
Monterey Regional Waste Management District
14201 Del Monte Boulevard
P.O. Box 1670
Marina, California 93933-1670

RE: SUPPORT LETTER FOR PROPOSED POLYSTYRENE FOAM ORDINANCE

Dear Honorable Board Members:

With the understanding that an ordinance aimed at banning the use of expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) take-out food containers for food vendors throughout Monterey County is under consideration by MRWMD Board Members, our broad coalition of environmental and community organizations is pleased to provide the following comments.

We would first like to thank the MRWMD for considering a potential ordinance on this pressing environmental issue. Plastics represent sixty to eighty percent of all marine debris, ninety percent of floating marine debris and have been well-documented as a huge and ever-growing problem in the environment. While it is recognized that EPS is economical and convenient for food service industries, the inherent non-biodegradable nature and chemical composition of this product raises serious concerns. Polystyrene foam, a form of air blown plastic, is particularly pernicious because:

- Though the containers are designed to be useful for a few minutes in the transporting of food and drink, they persist for hundreds and possibly thousands of years- an unconscionable material dissonance when biodegradable and compostable alternatives are readily available. The short-term economic benefits do not compare to the long-term economic and environmental costs.

- Polystyrene foam is a non-renewable petroleum by-product, composed of the chemicals styrene and benzene. Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen. Styrene is a neurotoxin and also considered a “suspected carcinogen” by the US EPA; heat and food acids induce migration of styrene monomers from the vessel into the food and drink.

- Small, ubiquitous and persistent, EPS debris closely resembles the food of many species- the growing compendium of data and photographs are just beginning to tell the unfortunate story: countless marine animals, birds and fish ingest the pieces and suffer from starvation and poisoning.

- No meaningful recycling of EPS currently occurs in Monterey County; no facility accepts food-stained EPS for reuse or recycling

- Polystyrene foam is very lightweight and easily breaks up into smaller pieces, and thus presents a major litter problem for our county parks, streets and beaches

- According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, “In the categories of energy consumption, greenhouse gas effect, and total environmental effect, EPS’s environmental impacts were second highest, behind aluminum.” Aluminum, at least, is easily and commonly recycled.

The most recent Surfrider Foundation Monterey Chapter/Carmel Middle School classes’ beach cleanups, January 30-31st at Del Monte Beach in Monterey found the following items:

Bags: 34
Balloons, ribbons: 6
Beverage Containers: 28
Caps, Lids: 99
Cigarette Butts: 233
Clothing, shoes: 37
Disposable food containers and utensils: 31
Fishing nets, lines, rope: 36
Styrofoam (majority)/plastic pieces, broken up: 1012

By volume, clearly the broken up pieces of EPS present the largest litter nuisance. It is the very fact that EPS breaks apart so easily that makes it so difficult to contain and control.

We encourage the effort necessary to implement a practical ordinance that will help stop the threat to our oceans and marine animals and the unnecessary litter of our beaches and neighborhoods due to tossed and blown polystyrene containers, manufactured and used specifically as single-use, throw-away items, primarily in the food-service industry.

Moreover, we are supportive of the regional approach since such restrictive ordinances are most fair, practical and effective if enacted and enforced throughout all jurisdictions in the county area. As litter has no natural boundaries it is desirable and prudent for all jurisdictions in a given region to follow the same plan regarding such product-specific waste management practices.

As you are aware, there is an ever-growing public interest in mandatory restrictions to control and regulate the widespread use of polystyrene and other types of throw-away plastic products so highly-visible in our society. Such local efforts abound throughout California, with ordinances passed in over 100 cities and counties, from Sonoma County to Orange County, and locally, in the cities of Santa Cruz and Capitola and, soon, Santa Cruz County. The fact is that a very large segment of the coastal and regional population is strongly in favor of such bans and expects local jurisdictions to take positive action in accordance with the expressed public will.

Many of our undersigned organizations have been heavily involved in community advocacy regarding this issue, and so continue to hear from untold numbers of the public as well as from our direct membership regarding their desire for and support of such bans of polystyrene containers and also plastic throw-away bags. We have provided educational materials regarding the effects of polystyrene in the environment to thousands of area residents at community public meetings, workshops, tabling at various sites, and at our frequent beach cleanups. We have also reached out to the businesses which are most affected by the ordinance, food vendors, with information on alternatives.

Our educational efforts have also included communication on this issue with numerous local elected and appointed bodies, city and county staff, and elected officials, both in writing and in person. Thus, we perceive a clear trend evident around Monterey Bay which coincides with the obvious trend throughout many California jurisdictions. We believe the public wants to take action on this matter, and we therefore confidently assert that such a county-wide effort will be both appreciated by county residents and actively supported.

Our strong environmental coalition wishes you success in this project, and we compliment your decision to explore proactive measures to protect our fragile marine environment, conserve limited resources, and reduce unnecessary amounts of highly-durable polystyrene plastic foam in our local waste stream. As this process moves forward, our organizations will be happy to assist you with comments or letters of support as appropriate. Please feel free to contact us if we may be of assistance. At this juncture, we urge you to approve the template ordinance at your meeting on March 21, 2008 so that it can be forwarded on to local governments for their timely consideration.


Thank you,

The Surfrider Foundation, Monterey Chapter, Tony Tersol
The Surfrider Foundation, Santa Cruz Chapter, Dustin MacDonald
Oceana, Santi Roberts
Defenders of Wildlife, Jim Curland
Save Our Shores, Laura Kasa
Sierra Club, Ventana Chapter, Rita Dalessio
Monterey Coastkeeper, Steve Shimek
Save the Waves Coalition, Dean LaTourrette
Aquatic Protection Agency, Eric Russell
Surfer’s Environmental Alliance, Andrew Mencinsky
Ocean Revolution, Dr. Wallace J Nichols
The Otter Project, Steve Shimek
Citizens for a Sustainable Monterey County, Denyse Frischmuth
Monterey Green Action, Megan Tolbert
Sustainable Carmel Valley, Mibs McCarthy
Sustainable Pacific Grove, Joy Colangelo
Big Sur Powerdown, Linda Parker
MERGe- Marina Moss Environmental Response Group, Dane Holland


Cc: Litter Abatement Task Force