Erica Cirino is reporting from the cockpit of the Christianshavn, a 64-year-old, 54 foot sailboat sailing across the Pacific on its approach to Honolulu. Erica was invited to join the crew of the Christianshavn by Plastic Change, a Danish non-profit, on a two year voyage to gather scientific data on the levels of plastic in the ocean, in particular, microplastic, the small particles, less than five millimeters in size, that form milky clouds floating on the ocean’s surface. This plastic ocean pollution often begins with the plastic garbage bag and grocery bags. (photo – Erica Cirino)
Microplastics are Toxic
Microplastics are consumed by zooplankton and larval fish at the bottom of the food change, eventually moving up to larger fish, seabirds and marine mammals. “The main problem is that microplastic acts as a sponge that soaks up chemicals,” says Kristian Syberg, PhD, an associate professor of environmental risk at Roskilde University in Denmark, “These toxins are lipophilic, meaning ‘fat-loving’: Once they enter a living being—whether it’s a sea turtle, whale or human—they get stored in that animals’ fat cells,”
More Plastic Than Fish
Erica reports that an estimated 8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans every year and by the year 2050, scientists estimate the oceans will contain more plastic by weight than fish. “Plastic is everywhere and there’s no easy way to clean it up,” says Pedersen, co-owner of the Christianshavn “At this point the best thing we can do is reuse it, use less of it or, best of all, stop using it.” (photo – Zak Noyle, Surfer magazine)
To join with Erica and the crew of the Christianshavn on their epic voyage to discover the implications of a plastic ocean read all of Erica’s article in Motherboard Feb. 2, 2017.
Solution? A Biodegradable Garbage Bag that is Actually Good for Animals
More than a trillion plastic garbage bags are used by people around the world each year and many of those end up in the ocean where they can impact marine life. Blueocean.net in Our Plastic Ocean reported on the recent progress made by cities, states and countries in banning the use of the plastic garbage bag. For example, when China imposed a ban on the thinnest bags in 2008, their use dropped by 40 billion bags annually. And Ireland, when it imposed a $.15 cent per garbage bag fee on retailers, their use dropped by 94%. Unfortunately, even with this progress the plastic waste from garbage bags is still increasing.
Most so-called biodegradable garbage bags on the market, are misleading, because although they do break down into smaller pieces they are still harmful and contaminating to the environment. (photo – United Nations Environment Program)
The Plastic..ahhh…non-plastic Alternative
Now we can report on what might be a revolutionary change in the composition of the plastic…ahhh..nonplastic bag. Avani, a company in the Philippines reports that they have created a truly environmentally friendly solution to the plastic pollution problem. With a mixture of cassava root and vegetable oil, Avani produced a bag that seems to be legitimately biodegradable, dissolving rapidly in hot water and safe for animals to ingest. In fact, Avani says that animals seem to love the taste of the “Eco bag”. Eventually, Avani hopes to produce a range of alternative products that will replace the petroleum-based products in use today and appeal to those consumers looking for sustainable choices. (photo – Avain)
Avanin is’nt the only company trying to remove plastics from the global supply chain. Evocative is a company that uses mushroom spores to produce packing and shipping materials that are biodegradable. To learn more about Avani and its biodegradable alternatives see the Global Citizen, Jan. 25, 2017.
See Polluting Plastics Ban, Good News from Davos on the latest recommendations from leading plastic manufacturers to find alternatives to petroleum-base “Substances of Concern.”
Zero-Waste Grocery Store Opens in Copenhagen
LØS Market is carrying more than 400 organic products but customers are also being encouraged to use their own containers to take home the store’s products. If customers do not have their own bags the store will supply re-useable alternatives. Zero-waste stores are becoming more common in Canada and Germany as well, where a movement to use less plastic is gaining momentum. Along with the surging popularity of farmer’s markets and locally sourced produce the use of less plastic is a welcome sign of a change to sustainable choices. See the Global Citizen for the entire article.
See our Blueocean.net wrap-around article on plastic pollution in the ocean: Our Plastic Ocean
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