Archive for Plastic

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.

The Plastic Island Part 2

Posted in Environment, Illegal Dumping, Oceans, Toxic Waste with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 07/03/2010 by floroy1942

Ocean Plastic

On the 22 February (Welcome to Plastic Island) I reported on the huge islands of floating plastic rubbish that pollute our world seas, and today more information has come to light. It would seem the problem is far bigger than first thought, as it has now been determined the patch of floating plastic in the Pacific is now twice the size of the US State of Texas, and increasing rapidly. This means the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ as it is now called, extends now for 1,392,400 sq/km and that is about six-and-a-half times the size of Great Britain and almost 1% of the entire ocean.

Your Beach?

But I hear you say, 1% of the largest ocean on the planet is not much, but the size is increasing rapidly with every passing year. Should it continue to increase at its present rate, by the year 2050 you may well be able to walk from Hawaii to the American mainland. Walk along any beach after the winter storms and you will find it littered with plastic rubbish, and then imagine this is but an infinitesimal fraction of the rubbish littering our oceans.

Imagine the Ocean Like This

Beginning just 500 miles off the Californian coast, this area is now the largest conglomeration of rubbish on the planet, with an estimated 100,000,000 tons of bottles, plastic bags, flip flops, shampoo bottles, plastic swimming pools, children’s toys, plastic cups and tyres among other things. If its made of plastic you will find it there. Among the debris can be found items with Chinese and Japanese markings, which show some of it has travelled the entire width of the Pacific before being caught up in the vortex, or gyre.

The area is so clogged with plastic that it resembles more a thick soup than water, and much of the older rubbish floats just below the surface because it has been broken down by the sun. Most worrying to scientists, is plastic very often contains toxic chemicals that can have a devastating effect on fish stocks.

Death by Plastic

Considering that 60% of all fish caught in all the oceans comes from the Pacific, this could have an alarming effect on the economies of many countries in the future. Fish and seabirds exists on the tiny plankton that abound in the world’s oceans, but the catastrophic fact about these ocean garbage patches is, that once the plastic is broken down and reduced in size by the sun, it often resembles food to the fish and birds. In the contaminated areas and their surroundings, the level of plastic pellets is six times higher than the plankton. Sampling recently revealed a single fish had ingested 26 pieces of plastic and there is little doubt this debris will eventually work its way into the food chain, if it hasn’t already.

Ocean Rubbish Gyres

Also disturbing, is a similar plastic vortex which has been found in the Central Atlantic Ocean with the high probability of another being in the southern part, plus one in the Indian Ocean. Oceanographers are convinced more will be discovered in time. It does not matter from which point you throw a plastic bottle into the sea, at some point in the future it will end up in one of these plastic dumps in mid ocean. Plastic does not degrade like most other materials, once its made its here forever, with the only successful means of getting rid of it being burning. The trouble there is we are then contaminating the air with the toxic content.

A team of volunteers from the Kaisai Conservation Project intend to send two ships to the area in an attempt to find out if this plastic waste can be turned into fuel. I for one hope this project turns out to be successful, and that soon we see ships trawling the seas collecting this rubbish and cleaning up our most precious asset from whence all life came.

If you are interested in knowing more, I would recommend the following YouTube video:

Until the next time – and remember, we only have one world!!!

Roy.

Welcome to Plastic Island

Posted in Environment, Modern World, Toxic Waste with tags , , , , , , , , on 26/02/2010 by floroy1942

Have you ever wondered what happened to the plastic bottle that drifted away after you dropped it in the sea during your last visit to the beach? Well, I can’t tell you exactly where it is now, but I can make a fairly good guess as to where it will end up. If you were on the North American continent east coast or anywhere on the west coast of Europe or North African it will eventually end up some 1,000 miles SSW of the Azores.

If you were on the east coast of South America or the west coast of Central/Southern Africa it will end up some 1,100 miles SW of the island of St. Helena. Now how could he know that I hear you gasp???

Yesterday the report of a 22 year study was released by a group called the Sea Education Association (SEA) at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland USA. In 1997 oceanographers discovered a huge island sized patch of floating plastic debris half way between Hawaii and the American west coast. They gave their discovery the name ‘gyre’ due to its location and how it is formed, and have now found a similar ‘gyre’ in the Atlantic.

After a study of ocean currents, scientists believe there is now a minimum of five floating conglomerations of plastic in all the world’s oceans. Apart from the one in the Pacific and the recently discovered one in the North Atlantic, there is thought to be one in the South Atlantic and one in the Indian Ocean. It seems a fair bet there will be more.

We drop a piece of plastic into the sea or local river and forget about it, but that plastic will travel thousands of miles before it reaches its final destination. It travels down rivers to the sea, and is then caught by the currents that carry it out to the deep ocean where eventually it is caught in a place where currents are weaker but surrounded by strong ones. It then moves into a circular motion from where it cannot escape.

During the study period, scientists retrieved 64,000 pieces of plastic rubbish during 6,100 sweeps of the North Atlantic. They consisted of everything from bottle caps and toothbrushes to crates plus a conglomeration of unidentifiable bits.

The maximum density of rubbish they found was 200,000 pieces per square kilometre. Because a large amount drifts just below the surface of the sea it was impossible to get an accurate measurement of the size of these plastic islands.

Trapped In Our Plastic Waste

Trapped In Our Plastic Waste

We have known for decades that our carelessness with plastic waste has had a major environmental impact, but in regard to the sea, the extent has only recently become known. Evidence has been found to confirm that many marine birds have ingested pieces of plastic thinking it was food, or swallowed it accidentally when the plastic became entangled in seaweed. They subsequently died. Large samples of fish sent for stomach analysis have confirmed that more than a third had ingested plastic. The reason is, after prolonged exposure the plastic is reduced in size by a process called photo-degradation, until it becomes about 1 centimetre across.

Relevant YouTube video:

There is little doubt that we are contaminating the seas daily with tens of thousands of tons of plastic garbage that has to go somewhere. The magnitude of this contamination has until now not been fully understood. The one remaining question is; What do we do about it? It would be prudent to clear it up, especially as nature has provided part of the answer by bringing it all together, but I fear international agreement for such a project will be a long time coming.

Next time, hang on to the bottle!

Roy.

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