July 3rd is International Plastic Bag Free Day!

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Environment, green living

Amazing news today, as of July 1st 2012 Seattle  has banned plastic bags!

This is a move that has caused great celebration as well as proven that we can move forward with sustainable ideas.

Check out this Great Video- The Majestic Plastic Bag Narrated by Jeremy Irons.

By now most people are aware of the side effects of plastic bags ending up in the oceans. I wrote this article four years ago when I first learned about the Garbage Patch that exists in the Pacific Ocean.

Last Fall I attended a talk by Sea Captain Charles Moore. He writes of his experience sampling and exploring the garbage patch. His book Plastic Ocean documents his findings. Refereed to as “The 21st century Silent Spring it is beyond a wake up call. It is a remarkable account of one mans experience with the Sea and the devastating effects of plastic on sea life.

We are all compelled to take action. To protect the ocean and animals of this planet, and to make sustainable choices in this new century for the future of  life on earth. It is the small everyday choices that make a difference.

Throw away culture

Posted by: admin  :  Category: B.C., Environment, green living

Late night I attended a local screening of a film called “The Clean Bin Project – documentary“  The movie follows a Vancouver couple over the coarse of one year, in a competition to buy nothing, and create no waste – or as little as possible.

Their story was funny, relevant and poignant. Topics like the Pacific Garbage Patch, and ethical recycling were touched on. The couple made a point of saying their intention was not to be preachy, but to show what their experience was.

The part of the movie that really struck me was that involving Midway Atoll, a remote  island nation in the centre of the pacific ocean. The movie relates the story of the albatrosses of this island. Sea birds that are consuming plastic instead of food and dying in unprecedented numbers.

This photo is alarming ,  disturbing and vital.

It is hard to look at, and not question where our own responsibility lies in this problem.

The participants in this challenge are not exceptional environmentalists. There are compassionate, conscious individuals who try and show what is possible. They readily admit that they have not continued to have a zero waste goal,  they have an intention to change small things and make a difference one step at a time.

The term Zero Waste can illicit contempt by some people. People argue that ZERO is not possible and at best we can only aim for a garbage diversion rate of 70%.  Metro Vancouver singed on to the ZERO WASTE CHALLENGE as a part of their plan to become The greenest city in the world by 2020. The question is why not aim for a Zero Waste? If that starts a dialogue then the value is proven.

Personally participating in a local Zero Waste Challenge the results were encouraging.  By the end of our four month experiment my family and neighbours were able to reduce our garbage by 50% We also doubled the amount of waste diverted through increased composting. We did not reach zero waste, in fact, our success was to increase our awareness of what we were throwing away, what we were buying, and what we could change.

The average person will probably look at this picture as I did, and feel that what we are doing is not enough.

Trash Talking

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Environment, green living

While reading the news this week, I came across an article on Madrid’s Beach Garbage Hotel

The hotel is made of garbage found on beaches around the world. It was created by artist Ha Schult, in an attempt to raise awareness about the state of the Oceans, the garbage that is dumped into the Oceans of the World and garbage that washes ashore on every beach across the planet.

Schult speaks about it ” “I created the Beach Garbage Hotel because the oceans of our planet are the biggest garbage dump,”

Most people are award of the Pacific Garbage Patch that exists and grows daily. The plight of the worlds Oceans are only one factor a long line of environmental destruction that is a result of our mass consumption and disposable lifestyle.

I was on The Story of Stuff website today and saw the newest instalment in their campaign The Story of Electronics.

The fact remains that we in North America use way more then our share of resources and create an exceptional amount of garbage per citizen.  Corporations are largely to blame, along with our governments that allow the production of mass amounts of “stuff” with no thoughts as to the end of life requirements of said stuff.

Some governments in Europe and even China are taking steps to force manufacturers to take responsibilty. The fact remains if we didn’t buy into the mass consumer culture in the first place we wouldn’t have these problems.

We need to make informed decisions when we make purchases.

Fairly traded products and closing the loop from the manufacturing all the way to the disposal of garbage needs to be on the agenda of every consumer, government and corporation in the world.

The problems that exist today are a direct result of our actions. We can change things by making sustainable choices and only buying things that can be disposed of ethically.

Things have to change and it has to start with each  of us.

The Pacific Trash Vortex

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Environment

This post originally published May 22, 2008

Recently I was shocked to learn about a continent made of garbage floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It has been estimated to be the size of Texas, and is known by many names, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Plastic soup, the Eastern Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex. What ever you call it, it is an environmental nightmare. It is not so much one large mass, if it were it would be much easier to deal with. This patch stretches for miles and goes to great depths.

It can be found in the North Pacific Gyre (also known as North Pacific Subtropical Gyre), The Gyre is a clockwise-swirling vortex of ocean currents comprising most of the northern Pacific Ocean. The garbage vortex is an accumulation of marine debris.

A great number of things can become marine debris; items such as plastic bags, syringes and other medical waste, buoys, rope, glass bottles and plastic bottles, cigarette lighters, plastic bags, beverage cans, Styrofoam, lost fishing line and nets, and various wastes from cruise ships and oil rigs. Plastic comprises over 80% of all ocean debris. The garbage vortex has been rapidly accumulating since the end of WWII. Plastic is unable to biodegrade. Instead it photodegrades, which means it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that are, eventually, consumed by marine life and enter into the food chain.

If that is not bad enough, it can act as a sort of “chemical sponge”. It can concentrate many of the most damaging of the pollutants found in the worlds oceans: the persistent organic pollutants (POPs). So any animal eating these pieces of plastic debris will also be taking in highly toxic pollutants.

This problem was created by humans. What to do about the garbage island is still being debated, One thing is clear, we can take steps to reduce the amount of plastic we use and dispose of. All life on earth relies on the Oceans health. Choosing to use less plastic can only help to reduce how much will eventually become a toxic waste product.