A Globe of Plastic

A globe of plastic instead of a globe of beauty.

This last year has been difficult as I navigate in the shift of our political landscape.  It became apparent that I wasn’t any longer being concerned about saving one rare and endangered species (hence why I started this blog) but concerned about the health of our whole earth as our environmental protective measures are unraveling with this current administration.  My mental state kept jumping between denial, living in a snow globe fantasy that everything will be all right or in the harsh reality riddled with disasters and having tragedy fatigue.  There has to be a balance;  I need to find my voice again, remember that the earth and I are one and that responsibility starts with me.

In this blog I would like to help bring to awareness an addiction that is reaching a critical point and how it is effecting our oceans. We need to face head on our addiction to single-use plastics which are unconsciously thrown away. Still today 91% of plastic waste isn’t recycled. The ocean is large so large that we think we don’t affect it, but that is not the case. I was alarmed to learn that 8 million metric tons of this plastic winds up in our oceans each year. There are a few things that happen to the plastic.  As it floats in the seawater, it absorbs highly toxic pollutants like PCBs, DDT (even though it has been banned, it is still exist in the water) and PAH.   Plastic lasts up to 500 years and over time becomes brittle.  This is the dangerous part…. this breaks up into tiny pieces termed micro-plastic releasing potentially toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) that are ingested by marine life which ultimately affects our food chain. There is more micro-plastic particles in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way. Again this impacts our health as we enjoy the benefit of the ocean’s abundance.

As plastics break apart in the ocean, they also release potentially toxic chemicals such as the aforementioned BPA, which can then enter the food web. When fish and other marine species mistake the plastic items for food, they ingest the particles and pass toxic chemicals through the food chain and ultimately to our dinner plates.

I have been following and supporting these innovators addressing how to cleanup the oceans.

“4Ocean”

4Ocean started with a duo of surfers and now employ full-time captains that clean trash out of the ocean 7 days a week. To support donations they have bracelets made with recycled trash and the purchase supports the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean.

 

“The Ocean Cleanup”

Boyan Slat is a young Dutch inventor who started The Ocean Cleanup developing with a team advanced systems that work with the ocean currents to reduce the world’s oceans of plastic. The first full-scale operational system will begin with “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” located between Hawaii and California.

 “Recycle Machines”

Norway has installed recycle machines and hopefully more countries including states in the US will provide this type of incentive.

 

Artists that are inspiring us to change our habits.

Max Liboiron

“This series of sea globes are genuine New York City souvenirs. The plastics came from the Hudson River in south Brooklyn, and the rocks are made of bituminous coal from in a landfill that closed in the 1930s at Deadhorse Bay, which now resides underwater at high tide, also in south Brooklyn.”  Max’s work inspired my cover drawing.
Photo Mar 24, 12 09 19 PM (1)

Washed Ashore Project
Angela Haseltine Pozzi is founder and artistic director
these artist have processed tons of plastic pollution from Pacific beaches for their art. Last year 17 sculptures were displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo for education and to spark change in consumer habits.

Photo Mar 24, 12 23 30 PM

The Bristol Whales
Designed and built by the creative team at Cod Steaks.
As early as 2015 these artists constructed this exhibit to bring awareness of the plastic pollution in our ocean. This stunning sculpture depicts two life-size whales swimming in an ocean of 70,000 plastic bottles that they collected.

Photo Mar 24, 5 13 53 PM

Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle, Remove

Earth Day this year (4/22/18) is being dedicated to “End Plastic Pollution” and hopefully the mantra Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle, Remove will be our line of action. A few months ago I became mindful of my use of plastic and it is not always easy to find alternatives or find the time to research.

Mindful tips:

  • Can you check your products ingredients for microbes (polyethylene):  http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/product-lists/ products   Why?  Because these tiny plastic beads go down the drain. Even though there are new ban laws starting to take effect there may still be some older products (such as toothpaste and personal care products) in your home or on the shelf that has these microplastic scrub particles.
  • Can you refuse plastic bags?
  • Can you carry tote bags for your shopping?  Store them in your car.   I may initially forget to take them into the store, but I can always get before checking out.
  • Can you bring your own produce bags?  I love taking my mesh bags for produce ( I store them in my totes) and later use them for storage instead of using the small plastic bags provided by grocers. Reusable and washable, they have a drawstring such as these from Colony Co
  • Can you find ways to not use plastic film.  There are reusable beeswax food storage wraps that wrap your food, sandwiches or covers bowls. You can also easily make your own.
  • Can you stop buying polyester clothes? Just not as healthy for your skin. Do recycle these clothes when you no longer want them?  A few years ago I developed a rash and had to change out all my clothes to natural fibers.  Not an easy feat these days!
  • Can you use stainless steel straws instead of the plastic ones.  They even have a cleaning brush.  Also, water bottles
  • Can you use “certified compostable” kitchen garbage/trash bags?  World Centric makes a strong compostable bag. Or, Reuseit has sandwich, quart, & gallon compostable resealable bags.  I found out that bio-degradable bags are not actually environmentally friendly and a term that is misused.
  • Can you re-use any plastic items that are in your possession now?  If you can’t reuse, then recycle them instead of throwing them into the trash. Try to be as trash free as possible.
  • Can you wash and reuse plastic-ware?   Or, how about owning a wooden hybrid version of spoon/fork and knife set that you can pack in lunch or take to fast food restaurants.

    Photo Apr 20, 10 50 04 AM
    Victor Summers
  • Now if we can just get rid of those plastic produce stickers, bands & bags that don’t decompose in our compost. There are some artists that are using the stickers in their art and you can mail them to the artists.

Learn, Give Thought, Be Inspired, Take Action……..Bring Back Balance

Lotus McElfish lotusmcelfish.com

 

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