Monday, August 31, 2009

Is It Soup Yet?

Sadly, yes! An article in National Geographic tells us that plastics break down quicker than we had all originally thought (actually I hadn't quite finalized my own break-down calculations as yet) - and they leave behind all of those nasty, unpronounceable, and, unspellable (sp?) compounds that poison us all...all the way up the food chain.

It's bad enough that we've got an ocean's-wide litter problem, but the resulant "soup" is slopping it's way right up onto our dinner tables and porridge bowls...yuk.

A welcome reminder in the article is the fact that food & drink cans are lined with plastics that leach some of those same purportedly cancer-causing compound - jeez, ya can't get away from the stuff.

No soup for you!!

The GOOD news is that the infamous oceanic garbage patch is getting a LOT of attention lately - and it's no longer one of those urban legends anymore. Bravo to Algalita and Capt Charles Moore for waving the early flag - just this year, at least two Scripps Institute of Oceanography-associated research trips have plied their way to the gyre and another two awareness excursions (Junk Raft & Plastiki) have drawn 'eyes' to the problem. Now we just gotta follow through and do what we can from our end (REduce, REuse, REcycle, REpeat). Go team!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

SUP Bottle Facts & Figures for the Uninitiated

Perhaps old news to us plastic-o-philes, but this updated version of the PowerPoint concerning the costs (monetary and otherwise) of single-use plastic (SUP) bottles is peppy and informative, but you'll have to add your own music. Called "Water Disaster", I processed it into movie form for easy use...multiple-use, that is!

Check it out!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

D'oh! MO Bans Wrong Plastic From Rivers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A law taking effect this week could make criminals out of those who bring Tupperware onto many Missouri rivers.

The law was intended to reduce the floating debris from abandoned foam coolers in the state's waterways. But lawmakers, apparently a little rusty with chemistry, barred the wrong plastic.

The white foam coolers commonly called "Styrofoam" are made from expanded polystyrene. But the law bars polypropylene. That's a plastic found in things like dishwasher-safe plastic containers but not usually used to ferry drinks down a river.

The mix up means river floaters can use foam coolers without fear. But someone caught with a dishwasher-safe plastic container could risk up to a year in jail.

Thanks to Rick Wilson for the tip on this one.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Project Kaisei - Diesel Fuel from Marine Debris?

An impressive collection of scientists and environmentalists are currently 'under weigh' and trolling through the gyres of the North Pacific. Project Kaisei has converted a sailing training ship into a floating data-collection unit and ocean-going laboratory - with the ultimate goal of cleaning up the plastics that bob around in the gyre, which, as we know, are breaking down and effecting the interleaved ecosystems there.

Algalita's Captain Charles Moore has likened any attempt at cleanup of the gyres to "vacuuming the entire continent of the United States...three times over.", so they definitely have their work cut out for them. Their initial goal will be to create a documentary series intended to be circulated internationally to raise awareness, and an ultimate goal listed on their website is to figure out “how to capture, detoxify, and recycle [plastic marine debris] into diesel fuel.”

Verrrrrrry eeeenteresing...! We look forward to a press release when their voyage ends later this month...should be interesting!