Thursday, June 26, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Sea of Trash
By Donavan Hohn, New York Times
Off Gore Point, where tide rips collide, the rolling swells rear up and steepen into whitecaps. Quiet with concentration, Chris Pallister decelerates from 15 knots to 8, strains to peer through a windshield blurry with spray, tightens his grip on the wheel and, like a skier negotiating moguls, coaxes his home-built boat, the Opus — aptly named for a comic-strip penguin — through the chaos of waves. Our progress becomes a series of concussions punctuated by troughs of anxious calm. In this it resembles the rest of Pallister’s life.
A 55-year-old lawyer with a monkish haircut, glasses that look difficult to break, an allergy of the eyes that makes him squint and a private law practice in Anchorage, Pallister spends most of his time directing a nonprofit group called the Gulf of Alaska Keeper, or GoAK (pronounced GO-ay-kay). According to its mission statement, GoAK’s lofty purpose is to “protect, preserve, enhance and restore the ecological integrity, wilderness quality and productivity of Prince William Sound and the North Gulf Coast of Alaska.” In practice, the group has, since Pallister and a few like-minded buddies founded it in 2005, done little else besides clean trash from beaches. All along Alaska’s outer coast, Chris Pallister will tell you, there are shores strewn with marine debris, as man-made flotsam and jetsam is officially known. Most of that debris is plastic, and much of it crosses the Gulf of Alaska or even the Pacific Ocean to arrive there.
The tide of plastic isn’t rising only on Alaskan shores. In 2004 two oceanographers from the British Antarctic Survey completed a study of plastic dispersal in the Atlantic that spanned both hemispheres. “Remote oceanic islands,” the study showed, “may have similar levels of debris to those adjacent to heavily industrialized coasts.” Even on the shores of Spitsbergen Island in the Arctic, the survey found on average a plastic item every five meters.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
This pops up in the news now and again - but it never hurts to...lather, rinse & repeat, eh?
Those minuscule particles in exfoliating facial soaps are - guess what - plastic, more often than not. Think of them as miniature nurdles. Too small to be mistaken for food by (visible-to-the-naked-eye) fish, but sucked-up inadvertently as by-catch when those ocean-dwellers eat other ocean-dwellers, taking these "microplastics" from your sink right into the food chain. Yum.
Yes, there are soaps that use alternatives like salt, pumice and even ground-up seed pits to give you that same, satisfying grinding effect!
Read the Slate.COM article here.
Posted by scott harrison at 9:00 AM
Sunday, June 15, 2008
A couple of items from out in "the internets" -
First from Chris Tola, Chair of Surfrider Australia, an animation - cute one, but not so cute in the end...see how many you can shoot and experience the subsequent consequences.
"As part of our Web Master’s student animation project for Surfrider Foundation Australia, Frank Gaschk made an interactive animation that focuses on the issue of plastic bags polluting the ocean. It's inspired by the Surfrider Europe image of plastic bags that look like jelly fish.
The animation can be viewed on Frank’s web site: here "
Secondly, an NPR audio story (mystery...exposed!!) concerning plastic bags in India and the consequences of lazy legislation steered by bag producers - our worst opponent in this plastics battle.
Listen to the story here.
Posted by scott harrison at 4:12 PM
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Thirst for bottled water unleashes flood of environmental concerns
Once reserved for Perrier-sipping elitists, bottled water has become a drink of the masses.
Sales have quadrupled in the last 20 years, and rose almost 8% last year alone.
Marian Brown, an assistant to the provost at Ithaca College who works on sustainability initiatives, has watched this growth with dismay.
"More and more people, more and more entities on campus, even for special events, were starting to think, 'Gosh, let's do bottled water,' instead of putting out (pitchers) of water," Brown said. "It's like, 'God no, they're making it worse!'"
The problem isn't the water — it's the use of resources. It takes a lot of oil to make all those little bottles and ship them, sometimes halfway around the world. But Tom Lauria, vice president of communications for the International Bottled Water Association, said bottled water isn't the environmental bad guy.
Read the full article here.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Our kindred souls at SAS (Surfers Against Sewage) have been exercising an novel approach to marine and beach debris...and in the process, bring to light the problem of ocean-going shipping container loss - estimated by Lloyds of London at 10,000 (10,000!) per year.
Visit the SAS site and read it ==> here. Bitchen! (or perhaps "Fab!" would be more appropriate.)
Some may remember that one of the indications of a floating trash problem in the North Pacific came after a Nike shipment vessel sunk there and unleashed thousands of pairs of nice, white shoes into our ocean... Read about these nostalgic olde times and see how long the shoes took to wash up in Oregon/Washington ==> here.
Posted by scott harrison at 12:00 PM
Early last month, managing director of SuperCentre, David Neilands, and Carlton and Emerald City's Andrew Bynoe said they, along with Jordan's Supermarket, were working together in an effort to reduce the millions of plastic bags they dished out yearly to customers, while seeking to trim operating costs and reduce the amount of bags ending up in the landfill.With the rising cost of petroleum impacting the movement of goods, it's interesing to see that the import of bags enters into the equation. Read the rest of the piece here. In the Philippines there is concern over the pollution that's being caused by plastic bags. A number of environmental groups, including one called
SuperCentre alone imports about 14 million bags a year at a cost of over $1 million.
Neilands said then that if the survey proved successful, they would look at bringing in larger quantities. "[It] is important to get a real sense of what kind of commitment is genuinely out there for people to use the bag," he added.
the EcoWaste Coalition recently staged an advocacy walk to raise awareness of the problems that plastic bags cause and to promote reusable bags.
Our addiction to plastic bags is already taking a heavy toll on the environment. We see them strewn all over, dirtying our streets, clinging to fences, and polluting our water bodies. Even the sky has not escaped being defiled by buntings made of plastic bags," said Alvarez, who is also the vice-president of the EcoWaste Coalition.Read more about their efforts here.
A study made by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace Southeast Asia in 2006 shows that 76% of the floating trash in Manila Bay are mostly synthetic plastic materials, with plastic bags comprising 51%, sachets and junk food wrappers 19%, Styrofoams 5% and hard plastics 1%. The rest are rubber 10% and biodegradable discards 13%.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
The 1liter SIGG bottle available at Jack Johnson shows this summer (click it for a larger view)...I had to add the "S" to make things right, your results may vary...! Special note: both SIGG and KleanKanteen are currently out of product - with our inside track tho, we (Surfrider San Diego) are able to order from certain lots of miscellaneous misprinted units (that we are having over-printing done on - and will have available at local booth events, 'till gone) - we can only hope that our RAP efforts have resulted in this shortage, but the BPA scare has made an impressive impression on the bottle-using market as well...nice!
Posted by scott harrison at 3:03 PM
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
Sunday, June 1, 2008
This year, more than 11 million plastic bags will sail through the doors of the seven Karns Quality Foods stores across the midstate, according to Scott Karns, the company's president. "I just look at that number and say, 'That's a lot of bags,' " Karns said.
This is the first year the company based in Silver Spring Twp. is counting, he said. "We thought it was important to tell our staff how many bags we're using and try to cut back."
Reducing their plastic bag use to 1 million from 11 million is a reduction of 90%, a laudable goal, but 100% is a better target. That a local chain in Pennsylvania uses over 1.57 million single-use plastic bags is staggering and a sobering reminder of what a problem the proliferation of these bags has become.
UPDATE: But wait, there's more! An expanded article appears in the same publication along with these tips for remembering your reusable bags!