February 11, 2019

Since I am new to blogging I was looking for advice on how to proceed and wondered if I was doing it 'right'. A friend took a look at what I had shared, and made a few suggestions. One of the suggestions was that I was providing too much information. So, I decided to change things up a bit and make it simpler, quicker, and easier to read. I get it, sometimes we don't care who said what, we just want to know what they said. So, if you want to know who said what and why, follow the links, they'll take you there. 


The Community Engagement Director, from the “Story of Stuff Project”, Allison Cook, sailed from Bermuda to Iceland to study some of the pollution in our oceans. She describes that the first failure of her imagination was of what to expect, as it was far more than she had anticipated, and she writes that she found herself surprised at her own surprise. Reason being, is that she thought she understood the scope of the problem only to find that the amount was overwhelmingly more than she had anticipated. According to Cook, every sample collected was “riddled with plastic.



Things to chew on...

February 10, 2019

  • the average American produces about 4 pounds (2 kg) of garbage per day
  • collectively the U.S.A produces 220 million tons annually, most of it plastic, and much of it recyclable
  •  it is not always cost effective to recycle the plastic due to the amount of energy it takes to melt it down and reform it
  • there are people who make it their life mission to produce zero waste, and at the end of a year will have a mason jar of garbage 
  • we will be dealing with a million tons of plastics in the aquatic environments by 2021
  • we do not understand many of the potential complications to organisms affected 
  • the extent of our trash came under scrutiny when the fated Malaysian jet went missing in March of 2014, because numerous satellite imagery revealed multiple images of floating debris, none of it the Boeing 777
  • seafarers have known for decades that the oceans are trash dumps, the ultimate sinkholes for all global garbage
  • to date, 136 species of marine species have been found entangled with debris
  • oceanic debris is mostly plastic, and with most of that being microplastics
  • all trash has the potential to reach the oceans
  • anywhere from 4-12 million tonnes of plastic is dumped every year by coastal countries 
  • about “eight million tonnes of plastic,” from water bottles to garbage bags to food packaging is improperly disposed of 
  •  if spread out on the ground, it would be enough plastic waste to cover 34 times the area of Manhattan ankle-deep in un-compacted plastic waste
  • 20 countries are responsible for 83 per cent of the litter, or so called "mismanaged plastic
  • Canada didn’t make it on the list, which is likely due to its low population density, China was first on the list, with many other Eastern and southern countries following close behind, and the United States came in as the 20th worst offender. 
  • the United States score of 20th worst offender is likely due to there being a large amount of waste that is not being acknowledged and mismanaged, and the U.S has a high per/capital consumption waste generation. 
  • garbage, compared to country development, is associated with southern and eastern developing country’s economies growing faster than their ability to handle their garbage, which is being primarily produced by the middle class in polluting countries 
  • research indicates that the plastic entering waterways is often blown out of overflowing garbage dumps and becomes entangled in estuaries and rivers, where it is carried by the currents into the coastal systems 
  • in order “to achieve a 75 per cent reduction in the mass of mismanaged plastic waste, waste management would have to be improved by 85 per cent in the 35 top-ranked countries”
  • according to the study Plastic Pollution in the World's Oceans, more than 5 Trillion plastic pieces, weighing over 250,000 Tons is Afloat at Sea 
  • with 7.2 billion people in the world, it represents 700 pieces per person 
  • there are 288 million tons of plastic produced every year, so comparatively, the 250 000 tons, described in the study, actually represents about 0.1% of the world’s annual plastic production
  • even after plastics have fulfilled their initial purpose, these materials should be treated as valuable resources and recycled whenever possible or recovered for their energy value when they cannot
  • many of us do not see or care where our waste goes once it leaves our hands, or responsibility; we don’t see the “what happens next” 
  • we must ask ourselves, how does it end up in the oceans 
  • marine animals not only become entangled, they believe these floating pieces of debris are food 
  • because plastic is not biodegradable, it persists for a long time in the environment, only breaking down to smaller and smaller pieces, but is never really broken down into simple compounds that could be harmlessly absorbed back into the environment 
  • it can also turn into a toxic substance, which not only damages ecosystems, such as clogging waterways, but can have terrible effects on organisms that come in contact with it and/or ingest it
  • micro-beads are one of today’s product nuisances
  • microscopic beads are used in exfoliants, such as personal care products and facial cleansers, body washes, and toothpaste
  • wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove plastic pieces
  • a single tube of facial scrub could contain more than 330 000 micro-beads 
  • alternatives include apricot kernels and jojoba beads
  • plastics carry chemicals and contaminants such as PCBs and flame retardants, accumulating in species along the food chain 
  • the highest species in the chain carrying the most toxins are typically humans
  •  a number of product manufacturers intend to phase them out of production or replace them with biodegradable alternatives
  • Canada is not making the same progress and the only introduction has been a “private member’s bill to ban the manufacture and addition of microbeads to consumer products in Ontario”
  • the Great Lakes, which provide drinking water to 8.5 million Canadians, microbeads make up about 20 percent of the plastic debris in the Lakes,  concentrated near urban centres
  • even though this information is known, a number of products are still sold in Canada, containing this unnecessary plastic waste 
  • microbeads are sinking to the bottom of the water column and accumulating at the bottom 
  • these tiny beads are ending up in “guts of aquatic animals and in our beer
  • Health Canada reports them safe for use in cosmetics and food
  • McGill University released information last year that there is alarming quantities of microbeads in the St. Lawrence River
  • they are too small to be captured by water treatment plants?
  • the NDP has put forth the motion that the federal government list them “as a potential toxic substance
  • the NDP hope to classify microbeads as a "toxic substance" under the Environmental Protection Act, potentially controlling their use, and banning them in products
  • a number of agencies have formally requested that microbeads be added to the “Priority Substances” list so that they may be designated and regulated as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
  • the Great Barrier Reef is threatened by an “estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic, with a collective weight of nearly 270 000 tonnes, currently floating in the world’s oceans 
  • microplastics (plastics measuring under 5 mm in diameter) are being ingested “at the same rate by the coral as their normal food, and the coral gut cavity tissue, and the coral are unable to expel the fragments
  • a coral is a filter feeder and will filter particles (zooplankton) out of the water; and are not very selective in what they eat and plastics block feeding activities, are a source of toxins 
  • this process is a very slow starvation as the creatures stomachs become overloaded with plastic debris
  • plastics are known for their innate ability to injure, and more often fatally wound wildlife
  • from 2005 to 2013 a total of 620 sea lion entanglements off of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, with about “38 per cent of cases involved plastic packing bands. Another 10 per cent involved commercial and sport fishing gear, five per cent rubber bands from crab traps, and for the rest debris was so badly embedded in the animal the type was unrecognizable.”
  • one to two percent of the sea lion population is affected and the population has been on the rise steadily, by about 4 percent annually, since the 1970s 

  • A 2013 study in Australia found “that each square kilometre of Australia’s sea-surface water is contaminated by about 4,000 pieces of tiny plastic.” And these are not the only pressures the reef is facing, there are concerns over coral cover and the rapidly warming and acidifying ocean waters. The federal government has taken steps to help alleviate some of the problem by eliminating the use of the non-biodegradable plastic bags. Greg Hunt, the federal environment minister, said he would be “encouraging” the states to phase out non-biodegradable bags

  • in March of 2015 a pygmy sperm whale beached at McNabs Island in Halifax Harbour, the animal later died due to the injuries it had received from plastic debris it had been caught up in, cut with, and from the debris it had consumed. Plastic had cut the animal’s neck and tail, and plastic was found in its stomach. Plastics responsible included plastic bags and strapping material