Archive for the Plastic Category

African Plastic Ban – Something We Can All Learn From

Posted in America, Britain, England, Environment, European Union, Illegal Dumping, Nature, News, Oceans, Plastic with tags , , , , on 13/04/2015 by floroy1942

I watched with interest a news item on France 24 channel yesterday that should point the way for the whole world. The headline is: Plastic is banned in Rwanda.

Good Night Out Last Night - What Did You Do With Your McDonald's Hamburger Box?

Good Night Out Last Night – What Did You Do With Your McDonald’s Hamburger Box?

Non-biodegradable plastic has for years been a plague on our planet and it is without doubt time that its use is severely limited. Our towns, cities and countryside, and more important our oceans, are becoming clogged with the stuff. Everywhere you go these days you will find plastic bags, cartons, bottles, wrappers and the like littering our streets, our waterways and the seas.

It would seem that many manufacturers cannot think past plastic. If you buy even fruit or vegetables in a supermarket these days, chances are they will come in a plastic tray with a plastic film wrapper. WHY! If the goods need to be in a tray, which I don’t believe they do for these are purely for presentation, then why not a cardboard one as in the old days?

High Winds - Who Knows Where It Will End Up?

High Winds – Who Knows Where It Will End Up?

In Britain alone a total of eight billion plastic bags were handed out to customers by supermarkets and shops in 2012. Add that to the rest of Europe and it comes out at trillions per year. You should ask yourself how many of yours ended up in the wrong place because you didn’t care!

Up to the sixties everything came wrapped in paper, cardboard or a derivative, and everyone was happy. Today it all comes down to profit because plastic is cheaper.

Eventually To End Up In The Oceanic Gyre?

Eventually To End Up In The Oceanic Gyre?

Here in Marbella you do not need to walk far on the beaches before you come across a discarded plastic bag, water bottle or wrapper. We have become so careless with waste disposal these days that even though there may be a litter bin a few metres away, it is too much trouble for many to dispose of litter properly.

As I have reported in previous posts (https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/welcome-to-plastic-island/) plastic is steadily clogging up our oceans to the extent that there are country sized accumulations in all our oceans called gyres.

I NEVER Throw These Away Without Cutting Open All The Loops First!

I NEVER Throw These Away Without Cutting Open All The Loops First!

Plastic is breaking down in sunlight into micro-plastic that is eaten by fish and sea birds, and much of the fish ends up on our dinner table. What most people seem to forget is that normal plastic is non-biodegradable! It will still litter our planet in one thousand years after it is carelessly thrown away!

- And This Is Why!

– And This Is Why!

It was reported recently that even the Mediterranean Sea now has huge gyres of plastic that are steadily being eaten by the fish. If it continues, it will become a major problem for the extensive fishing industry in countries bordering the Mediterranean as in other parts of the world.

Says It All!

Rwanda – Says It All!

It is for these reasons that I applaud the actions taken by the Rwandan government to ban non-biodegradable  plastics in the country. Top of the list is plastic shopping bags, for these have received an outright ban. The people are now being forced to use paper bags to carry the shopping.

Passengers arriving at Kigali Airport are now searched for plastic, and any found is confiscated. If you have a package or suitcase wrapped in plastic it is cut off and confiscated before you can enter the country. The same goes for the country’s borders.

Refreshing To See A Nice Clean City

Refreshing To See A Nice Clean City

It has been reported by people travelling through Rwanda that now-a-days everything is a lot cleaner. No longer is there the spectacle of plastic bags blown around on the streets and in the countryside, and no longer are the trees festooned with plastic caught on branches. A lesson for us all in our supposedly ‘civilized’ world.

Europe vainly tried a couple of years ago to limit the use of supermarket plastic bags by charging for them, locally its ten cents, but that was a waste of time. You still see people leaving the supermarkets with a trolley full to the brim with shopping in a dozen or more plastic bags.

Litter On The Street -  A Regular Occurence In Europe

Litter On The Street – A Regular Occurence In Europe

In Europe as in most western countries it is a common sight to see shopping bags or other plastic items littering the streets, they are everywhere. In many cases these items find their way into rivers and streams and pollute our water supply, but who the hell cares, its only a plastic bag.

Few people realize the damage that is being done to our environment by discarded plastic, and sad to say, many don’t care anyway. Unfortunately it is not about the here and now, but what we are doing to future generations with our careless plastic pollution.

What Would You Think If This Ended Up On Your Dinner Table?

What Would You Think If This Ended Up On Your Dinner Table?

It is time for the rest of the world, in particular the richer nations to follow this example set by Rwanda and enforce an outright ban on plastic carrier bags as a start, and then move to other plastic wrapping materials. It may cost a little more, but at least it will be a step in the right direction towards saving our planet.

Roy.

Plastic May Kill You In Years To Come

Posted in Britain, England, Environment, Europe, Modern World, Pacific, Plastic, Plastic Rubbish, Toxic Waste, USA with tags , , , , on 30/01/2012 by floroy1942

Now that’s a bold statement if ever there was one, and I am sure more than a few people will be wondering what the hell is going on. Well, it would seem that plastic rubbish on our beaches is not the only problem we are facing, for scientists today have made yet another discovery that could have a far reaching effect on mankind, well, our offspring actually. It all revolves around the weekly washing (or daily if you have kids)!

The Weekly Wash – Not So Innocent

A group of scientists have discovered that a new, possibly deadly substance is getting into the environment from our weekly wash. Every day millions of people put their dirty clothes in the washing machine and think no more about it. Its a perfectly normal occurrence, and who thinks about what goes down the drain during the operation. Its just dirty water with some detergent in it, and anyway, the water company takes care of it, right!

From the latest research it seems that is not the end of the story, because, if some of the garments you washed contain man-made fibres i.e. polyester, acrylic, or polyamides (nylon), that water from the washing machine contains so-called ‘microplastics’.

Microfibres – The Hidden Menace

It seems these are tiny fibres of plastic, less than a millimetre long, that detach from this type of garment during the wash cycle, and a single item can lose more than 1,900 fibres per wash. Via the drains and water treatment plants (where applicable) these fibres end up in rivers or the sea where they are being eaten by fish and other creatures. Because they are so small, they even end up in the stomachs of plankton which of course is the main diet of many species of fish and mammals. Naturally, not only fish are contaminated with this fibre, but also land animals that get their water from rivers.

The dangerous part is that their small size allows them to be not only ingested by e.g. the fish, but once in the stomach they enter the bloodstream, and hence the blood of the host. It has been found to accumulate in the cells of fish during research by Dr. Mark Brown of the National Centre For Ecological Analysis ans Synthesis (NCEAS) in The States, and Prof. Richard Thomson from the University of Plymouth in the UK.

By Comparison, A Minor Problem

The team tested seawater from various points around the globe and the sewage outlets of many cities and found that the contamination was strongest near large population centres as you would expect. Testing of water from washing machines proved the link with items of clothing produced using man-made fibres.

It should be obvious that when the fish or animals are contaminated with this plastic, it is already in the food chain. Should it have the same effect on human physiology, i.e. get locked up in our cells, who knows what harm this will cause to our bodies. Whatever happens, it’s a fairly safe bet we have not heard the last of this problem.

Roy

The Curse Of The Plastic Bag Returns

Posted in Atlantic, Britain, England, Environment, Europe, Government, Illegal Dumping, Insanity, Modern World, Oceans, Pacific, Parliament, Plastic, Plastic Rubbish, Toxic Waste, UK, USA with tags , , , , , , on 29/07/2011 by floroy1942

Despite government campaigns, environmental group actions, and other publicity on the dangers of supermarket plastic bags over the past five years, their use is once again on the rise.

People are turning back to the ‘one-use’ bag instead of the multi-use ones now available. The consumption of these items has risen from 6.1 billion in 2009 to 6.4 billion last year. Not a significant rise you might think, and certainly better than the 10.7 billion bags used in 2006.

The Infamous Plastic Bag

Why shoppers are going back to their old ways and ignoring the danger to the environment is to date a mystery. It would seem people no longer believe in doing what they can to save the planet from pollution, despite the discovery of the Plastic Islands in our oceans. Recycling Minister Lord Henley has suggested that if the current situation continues there may be need for legislation. Personally, I would think the sooner the better!

Although this would not solve the problem completely, for we still use plastic rubbish bin liners for example, it would go a long way to cutting down on the mountains of plastic that are currently polluting our world.

Plastic Bin Liners In Use

This information shows clearly that people are not willing to change their ways, and the supermarkets and retailers too are not interested, despite earlier promises. Therefore I would say legislation is imperative. Laws must be passed to outlaw plastic bags once and for all time from the High Street, and replace them with the old-time paper or cloth bag.

Environmentally Harmless And Recyclable

Paper bags were good enough for generations following Francis Wolle’s invention of the first paper bag making machine in 1852, and everyone used them prior to the introduction of plastic bags by Swedish engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin in the early 1960’s. Since that day the number of plastic bags in circulation has soured and billions are used every day throughout the world.

The largest users by far are the Chinese, but they at least are taking positive steps to cut their usage. Laws introduced in 2008 banned single-use bags and has received a positive response from shoppers.

One side effect of getting rid of billions of plastic bags will be the huge saving made in oil from which they are made. It is estimated the measures taken by China have reduced its oil consumption by around 3 million tonnes of oil per annum. That’s an awful lot of oil! So, what if the ban was total and  world-wide?

Animal Life And Plastic

In order to cut down the massive pollution caused by these items, it is clear that plastic shopping bags should be consigned to history as one of man’s greatest environmental mistakes. Their use, reusable or not, can no longer be justified in today’s world. We have enough pollution problems, and let’s face it, would we really bemoan the loss of the plastic bag when we have so many environmentally friendly alternatives? I think not!

My wife and I keep several cloth shopping bags in the boot of the car and never accept the plastic alternative from the supermarket. It is such a small step, but if more people did that we would not need the plastic bag any more. Obviously, many are either too lazy to take such steps, or just don’t care, which is a shame. It is for this reason I believe legislation in this area is desperately needed.

Headed For The Plastic Island

Shoppers, like most other people, always look to the easiest option and don’t care what happens so long as it doesn’t intrude into own little ‘world’. Perhaps though we should all stop to think about what we are doing to our planet for the sake of our children.

What we do today will have a great impact on their lives!

Food for thought perhaps?

Associated Posts:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/welcome-to-plastic-island/

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/the-plastic-island-part-2/

Roy.

Going Green – The Way Back

Posted in Atlantic, Britain, England, Environment, Europe, Illegal Dumping, Insanity, Modern World, Oceans, Old Age Pensioner, Pacific, Plastic, Plastic Rubbish, Senior Citizen, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 25/07/2011 by floroy1942

 It is a fact that many people think the older generations did nothing to look after the planet on which we live because we were not ‘eco’ friendly. I am here to tell those people how wrong they are. I received a very interesting e-mail from my brother over the weekend all about being ‘green’.

It is a fact that we seniors did not have separate waste bins for plastic, glass etc and we did not run our cars on biofuels, but did that make us less ‘eco’ friendly? I think not as the following will amply demonstrate.

In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. 

The Weekly Shopping

The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”
The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today.  Your generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

The Glass Milk Bottle-Reusable

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over.  So they really were recycled.

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Stairs - Remember Them?

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind.  We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.  Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Just One Per Home

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. 

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. 

Why Not Old Newspaper?

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. 
Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.  We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Free Water For Anyone Thirsty And No Plastic

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. 
We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. 

The Modern Mixer - Is It Really Essential?

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.  And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then? ”

(My sincere thanks to the anonymous writer of this piece)

So you see, things were in many ways much better then than they are now. Consequently, I don’t think members of today’s generation have the right to say us old folks are to blame for today’s eco-problems, because actually, they have done it to themselves.

Admittedly, it was not because we thought about the environment as such, but more the fact that we just did not have all the things people have today. Technology has taken huge strides since the 40’s and 50’s, and we have to look there, and at ourselves, for the problems with our environment today. Many of the technological advances that have been made serve only to make us more lazy and increase the level of unemployment, so is that a good thing, do we really need these things?

Our Planets Floating Garbage Islands

There are many we could well do without, like escalators and powered grass mowers just to use two examples from the above piece. We could perhaps reduce the amount of plastic each of us uses in our daily lives, like supermarket carrier bags, plastic cups and bottles. After all, what is wrong with paper bags and glass bottles  that can be reused?

So you see, the current generation is more to blame for the state of our world than the old folks. Next time you buy an electric apparatus take a moment to think; Do I really need this?

It would seem the only way forward for us to be totally in tune with our world, is to take a few steps back and live like we used to.

Roy.

Death Knell For Plastic Bags?

Posted in Atlantic, Britain, England, Environment, Europe, Government, Illegal Dumping, Insanity, Modern World, Oceans, Pacific, Parliament, Plastic, Plastic Rubbish, Spain, Toxic Waste, UK, UN, United Nations, USA with tags , , , on 31/12/2010 by floroy1942

Ever since the common plastic shopping bag was first introduced en masse by high street stores and supermarkets in the mid-1970’s, it has taken a firm grip on our lives and environment.

The 'Essential' Plastic Shopping Bag

Now, the Italian government has announced an outright ban on these everyday items from tomorrow, January 1st, and although it is the first European country to do so, it is not the first world-wide. Eritrea, Rwanda and Somalia banned them as far back as 2005, followed by Tanzania a year later. Strange that it should be African nations that first took positive action against this danger to our environment!

Bag Production - A Major Industry

It is not until you get into numbers that the impact of these shopping aids becomes apparent. The Italian people for example use a staggering 20 billion bags a year, which is about 300 per person. Across Europe the estimate is 100 billion! In 2008, when China introduced a levy for plastic bags, they were using 3 billion a day!

While many countries have over the years introduced a surcharge on plastic shopping bags in an effort to cut consumption, it has been of little use in curbing our habits. There seems little doubt that only an outright ban such as in Italy will work, and it is up to other countries to follow suit. Italian shoppers will now have to use bio-degradable, cloth or paper bags.

Plastic In The City Of Naples

Some of the more developed nations have introduced recycling as the answer to the plastic menace, and although some relief has been seen in the number of plastic bags in city dumps, it has had minimal effect overall. When you consider it, we even add to the mountain by putting all our rubbish in plastic sacks anyway!

There is little doubt that even the very disposal of plastic bags costs a huge amount of energy. According to the Italian environmental organization Legambiente, the ban on bags will reduce the CO2 emissions for Italy by 180,000 tonnes a year.

The Plastic Raw Material

Plastic, as we all know is a by-product of oil, and in 2007 it was estimated that from the world’s oil production of around 84,5 million barrels a year, some 4% goes into the production of all types of plastic. While this may seem an insignificant amount, it should not be forgotten that another 4% is used in the energy required to produce the final product.

Oil, like many other sources of power, will run out eventually as the planets reserves are used up. At the current state of man’s development, life as we know it would cease entirely without oil and its by-products.

As you read this, take just a second and think about all the devices in your home that have plastic parts and would cease to function without it. Once having established that, spread your mind wider and look outside your immediate environment at all the things in your town or city that cannot work without plastic.

 

Also The Cost Of Plastic Production

We as a race, would be thrown back to the time of the horse and our own two feet, to say nothing of candles for light and open fire for heat. It’s scary to say the least

 

A Plastic Bags Best Friend - The Supermarket

When shopping, my wife and I always end up with at least five or six bags from the local supermarket, even though we always ask the cashier to pack the items into as few bags as possible. Like many supermarkets, they are on special hooks that allow the cashier to operate as quickly as possible, and it is very common for them to exit the system containing only one or two items.

 

Maybe Not Quite As Strong - But Otherwise.....

Prior to the introduction of the plastic shopping bag, people used paper carrier bags which by their very nature were biodegradable. Now, we poison the earth and oceans with an item that does not degrade, and becomes toxic. Discarded plastic will be with us for centuries, and there is not much we can do about it.

Today we seem incapable of living without this lowly item, but as the discovery of the Pacific Plastic Island clearly shows, we must change our habits. The size of a large country, it is reservedly estimated to contain 100 million tons of floating plastic. I refer you to one of my previous blogs on the subject.

(You will need to cut and paste the link into your browser)

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/

welcome-to-plastic-island/

 

When We And Our Children Are Dead, It Will Still Be Here!

While doing research for this article I came across an interesting video that describes the life of a plastic shopping bag. It was made by Ramin Bahrami and although somewhat romanticised, gives some insight into the life of a shopping bag made of plastic.

http://futurestates.tv/episodes/plastic-bag

With the exception of a few countries where a proportion is recycled, they all end up in rubbish tips, and sadly, in the oceans of the world. Perhaps it is time for this environmental problem to be handled by the United Nations, who could if they can agree, do something positive for our planet by introducing a world-wide ban on these items.

 

Guaranteed Not Part Of A Six-Pack

Before I finish let me highlight the tragic effects of our plastic rubbish is having on the animal population of our planet.

 

Nice Scarf? Not Really. Just Another Creature Suffering.

There is evidence enough of the cruel way in which many birds and animals die trapped in our plastic garbage. If we saw it with our own eyes we would call it sadistic, but never think about what can happen each time we throw away a plastic bag or six pack holder. So far as the latter is concerned, I always snip open each circle with the scissors before discarding it.

The cost to the environment is incalculable, but future generations will have to deal with our excesses of today.

Roy.

What’s in the Package?

Posted in Britain, England, Environment, Europe, Health, Illegal Dumping, Insanity, Modern World, Plastic, Plastic Rubbish, Toxic Waste, UK, USA with tags , , , , , on 17/02/2009 by floroy1942

Supermarket PackagingThe big ‘Tizzwozz’ in the U.K. news today concerns the supermarket packaging of our daily groceries, and what a ‘kerfuffle’ it caused!

Local Councils are complaining they are running out of space to dump all the non-biodegradable packaging that is flowing out of the supermarkets, and the percentage of it that IS recyclable is far too small. Wow! Welcome to the real world guys, you must have been asleep for a long time.

The Plastic Menace

The Plastic Menace

Ever since the good old fully recyclable paper bag disappeared in the fifties, we have been inundated with plastic in various forms when we shop. If you put together all the global plastic rubbish from the last fifty years and placed it all in Africa, the entire continent would probably be buried to a depth of five miles (just a guess) or, adversely, we could fill in the Atlantic and drive to the States!

It does not matter what you buy, most of it is wrapped in plastic or cardboard, but does it need to be? Much of what is sold these days is not just wrapped, it is double wrapped. In the shops we see loose fruit and vegetables sitting next to pre-packed items that are identical. Why!

Acceptable Cardboard

Acceptable Cardboard

A frozen TV dinner is another fine example. It comes often in a sealed tray, which is then inside a cardboard sleeve. If the tray is sealed with a cardboard lid, then what purpose does the extra sleeve serve; good looks? The company logo??

The greatest environmental curse has to be the plastic shopping bag, which has taken over the lives of shoppers everywhere. I would not care to guess what the world-wide consumption in a single day is, I am sure however it would be staggering. If you filled each one to the brim you could probably empty the Mediterranean! As I live in Marbella, I’m glad that’s not likely to happen.

Garbage Backup In Naples Italy

Garbage Backup In Naples Italy

When I shop here at a particular superstore, the till girls have a set of hooks beside the till with plastic bags on it. They open a bag and drop your items in as they come off the bar-code reader and so on. I have often been amazed at how many bags I accumulate for a small number of items. Sometimes I get a bag with only one item in it and they are already getting the next one ready! The mind boggles!

The makers of women’s’ products i.e. perfumes creams etc. ( the kind of thing no decent woman can live without – Oops! Sorry Ladies) are the champions of wasted packaging.

How often have you opened a large beauty product box e.g. perfume, and found a small bottle in the bottom of the box? Whenever I go shopping with my wife for such things, I am amazed at the audacity of these companies, it’s as if they are trying to fool you about how much you are getting for your money. A word to the wise, when shopping for such things, it is advisable to peek inside the box to see just how much you are getting for your hard-earned cash.

Burying It Is Not The Best Solution

Burying It Is Not The Best Solution

Anyway, to sum up; is it time supermarkets and stores cut down on the amount of packaging they foist off on us – Yes! Is it time we started thinking about the number of plastic bags we use – Yes! Is it time we started turning to more biodegradable packaging – Yes! Is there anything we can do about it – not much!

It is possible for shoppers to start re-using plastic bags when they are out and about, and I guess if we all started to remove all the unnecessary packaging at the till and left it there, supermarkets would take notice, but short of that I don’t see much change. Do you?

Keep your chin up – the level of waste is rising!

Roy.

%d bloggers like this: