Hi folks- welcome to my blog. It's less bloggy than most, it's more of a tool for looking up information on PLASTICS, especially as related to marine debris. Plastics have become a big problem for the planet because there is SO MUCH of it and it doesn't go away... ever. Over time it gets brittle and breaks apart into smaller and smaller pieces, but the strong synthetic plastic polymers continue to exist. The oceans are particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon because the cold water and lack of bacteria make it even more difficult for breakdown to occur.
Maybe by now you have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area roughly 2 times the size of Texas in the middle of the N Pacific Subtropical Gyre which is becoming a plastic soup. It's a sad state of affairs, but fixable in that all we have to do, I mean ALLLLLL of us, is be more sensible in our habits and consumer choices. Bring Your Own Bags to the grocery store; Bring Your Own Mug to the cafe; choose less packaged products when possible. It's doable, for a worthwhile cause...
Poke around below to find out more.

Nurdles (pre-production plastic pellets)

Nurdles (pre-production plastic pellets)
Manufacturers need to be responsible for cleaning up their own spills

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's an Affair

More and more data is coming out about this whole sordid plastics affair. Indeed, it IS an affair we're having with plastics- we love it more than we know, use it more than we care to admit, and throw it out the minute we're done with it, and hardly look back before we go on to the next piece. Check this out about plastics' absorption of pollutants in the oceans. Pollutants that last lifetimes are floating around too, we just can't see them. As soon as they find a little piece of something to hold onto, they do, and boy do they do. The link is a BBC article, the Brits are on it too.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Think Outside The Bottle

Take the online pledge to choose tap water over bottled water..

Saturday, February 16, 2008

April Pledge

Okay, so, we each accidentally got us into this mess. That's the good news, it means we can each intentionally get us out. How? One pledge. A pledge that is written in mental stone. Just one. Just yours, that you follow through on, because a pledge is a promise and if you promise the Earth something, that's a promise you should keep. Big Earth, don't fib to Mother Nature.

So, examples for APRIL. That's all, let's start with one month- THAT we can all do. Let's do Earth Month because Earth Day seems awfully short, considering it's a whole planet we're honoring. End each of the following with "... in April."
1. I pledge NEVER to buy a plastic water bottle.
2. I pledge to bring my own tote bags EVERY TIME I go grocery shopping.
3. I pledge to bring my own mug for my soy latte caffeine fix.
4. I pledge to pick up at least 3 pieces of plastic every time I walk down the beach/sidewalk/park.
5. I pledge to NEVER accept a Styrofoam to-go container from a restaurant- I will ask for an alternative beforehand.
6. I pledge to write one letter to one company that I find ludicrously overpackages its products.

One month. Once your pledge becomes habit, I bet you'll never go back.
What's your pledge?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Will Always Stoop Over For Our Earth


My name is Tony Calcagno and I work for the Ledyard Co. in Santa Cruz. We had a meeting at our office on Friday January 11th with a woman I can't remember her name but I know it starts with an X. We discussed Biodegradable to go containers for the restaurant industry and how Styrofoam and plastics are disrupting our marine life and our earth. So, after a three hour bike ride with my friend, my wife and I went down to " Beer Can Beach " below Seascape Resort where we take our dog for a walk. I was telling her about this distressing situation about plastics and how they hang around for at least 500 years, so we begin picking up plastic water bottle tops! I can't believe what we picked up!

We walked along the high tide line on the beach and by the time we got to the Resort area we had a two gallon zip lock bag full of plastic bottle tops, children's plastic toys, plastic sauce cups, shotgun shell wads! What an eye opener! I have lived in Santa Cruz County all my life and have used the beach and ocean and had no idea how bad this really is. I want to thank the lady, sorry I don't remember her name, but my question is what do I do with this bag full of plastic lids? I brought them home and want to do the right thing with them. I don't want to put them in my garbage can. I can't imagine what it must be like in the Northwest Pacific gyre. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will always stoop over for our earth.
Tony Calcagno, DSR
Ledyard Co.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Sisyphean Task?

Sisyphus n
In Greek mythology, a cruel king of Corinth who was condemned for eternity to roll a boulder up a hill only to have it roll down again just before it reached the top.

Sis·y·phe·an adj
Involving endless but futile labor

That's how this has felt lately. So much plastic being made every minute of every day of every year in so many cities in so many countries on so much of this sighing planet. How could I possibly think I could put even a chink into this monstrous polymer armor that has consumed nearly everyone of us? One hundred billion shopping bags used annually in the U.S. alone. I bought a thumbdrive, the size of a thumb, the rigid plastic package which required a machete to get into was the size of a large book. And in my tiny corner of the universe I tell a class of students that it would be great if they told their parents to bring their own shopping bags to the market. They nod in wild agreement, after seeing the photo of a sea turtle choking on a plastic bag. They promise, they will do their part. The bell rings, chaos ensues, books and papers fly and they flit out the door, "That was sad! Thanks for the presentation!" A Sisyphean task?

No, my friends tell me, don't underestimate the domino effect. And please, they say, don't stop. Each one who is impacted tells a friend, and so on. That's what grassroots activism is about. One at a time. One less piece of crap in the ocean at a time. Times it by 6.2 billion. Just another couple billion to go... why not.... what's more important, really? Not Sisyphean, just slow, slow and steady as she goes.

CFC levels decreasing because of the Montreal Protocol, because there's no more CFC's in aerosol cans and refrigerators. An example to show... the tide can be turned...

Get Your Bumper Sticker


Monday, January 14, 2008

Bag the Plastic - Go Tote

Everyone's doing it, why can't we?
Some are taxes, some are bans, some are complex combo measures that address the issue as needed by the country or the town and its businesses. Whatever form the reduction takes, the ocean breathes a sigh of relief. Many more sighs to go, good news is:

The BIG ONE just joined! (The Biggest, can you guess?)
And on its heels comes the land down under.
Ireland imposed a smart 15 cent tax on bag, reducing plastic bag use by 90%.
In 2002 South Africa banned the ultra-thin plastic bags. The aim being that the thicker bags would be too expensive for retailers to give away freely. Bags are sold at 3 cents, plastic bag use has hence been cut by 50%.
In Paris, a plastic ban has just gone into effect, and a nationwide ban is slated for 01/2010.
Most German supermarkets voluntarily ask for b/w 5 and 25 cents per bag, they don't even need to be regulated into it, they just get it.
Read about more countries that have curbed their plastic bag usage through regulations or taxations or education or more likely a combination of all three. This listing includes histories, i.e. when a new law went into effect and what's the story today, e.g. Switzerland 2003 -> Switzerland 2007.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

This photo from a 1955 Life magazine article called "Throwaway Living"

Check out the photo... makes you wanna go "WOOHOO!!" (though actually BOOHOO is more appropriate)
Seemed like a good idea at the time. Fewer dishes to wash. The 1950's, a post WWII time of phenomenal growth in this country, hand in hand with growth came the mass production of single-use disposable plastics. And why not-- just throw the junk away.

Problem with "throwaway" though, 50 years later- there is no more "away." Too many people and too much stuff. A friend of mine is a lighthouse keeper in Oregon. He often finds garbage on the beach with Japanese and Chinese lettering. It's a slow float away to the other side of the Pacific. There is probably someone now standing on the shores of Hokkaido, Japan wondering when the Frito's bag that just washed up was tossed from an American picnic.

Think about it - every plastic fork, knife, spoon, cup, plate and tray in this picture continues to exist, and will do so for the next... ohhhh.... 500-1,000 years. Teaching children to cross the street we say
We need to do similar - 1,000 years of floating around the ocean for a plastic knife to make a ham and mayo sandwich -

Here is the lowdown, the nutshell, the basics, the boiled down nuggets as I wrote them for the presentation. This is a handout essentially, yup.