Our Plastic Planet

“One word Ben…Plastics” – From the movie The Graduate 1967

Remember when very few things were made of plastic?  Lincoln logs were made of wood.  Games were made of cardboard with metal men.  All groceries were put into brown paper bags!  Oh the good old days.  Remember when plastics started being used more and more.  Remember when we used to say “Oh, this is plastic…it wont last long!” Until today we cant find anything that isn’t made of plastic.

The Good Old Paper Bag

The Good Old Paper Bag

I recently read, Plastic Ocean, by Charles G. Moore about his encounter with and scientific study of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (or Pacific Trash Vortex) northwest of Hawaii in the North Pacific gyre which is a large rotating ocean current.  This is a summary of what he found….It’s not the unsightly visible trash that is the concern, it is the small particles that are becoming smaller as they decompose over time but never biodegrade and ultimately enter into the food chain with their potentially toxic chemicals.  Once into the plankton that is the base food from which almost all sealife depends on, it will be endemic.

As he found out the hard way, unless harm to humans can be unequivocally proven, nothing will be done. Currently, he and others are just in the education phase of alerting the world population to the problem. Meanwhile everyday, about 40-45% of each barrel of oil becomes a source of energy in the form of gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, heating oil, and the like plus lubricants such as motor oil and grease. Definitely carbon generators that are responsible for climate change. The remainder, the majority of each barrel goes into petrochemicals in the form of plastics and fertilizers. All plastics are one of two types, namely, thermoplastics that can be recycled since they can be remelted or thermosetting polymers that can take shape only once. Unfortunately, only 10-20% of thermoplastics are recycled plus all the related shipping back to remelt and then back to stores results in more carbon emissions. The thermosets are just garbage after their primary use has expired. For either case, nurdles are the raw material pellets from the petrochemical plants that become molded into all the varieties of plastics in society. They are a key culprit in the ocean that kill birds and fish who mistake them for food…

Right now the plastic gyre is estimated to be twice the size of Texas.  A majority of the waste comes from run off that flows to the ocean from our many rivers.  Will the people of the world wake up in time to avert the calamity that awaits us? I doubt it! All those corporations who wave their flags of providing jobs and holding up the economy have a very vested interest in keeping the world status quo. If they don’t directly make plastic products, they use plastic to package their products and wrap their palleted products. You and I as consumers are held hostage since it is almost impossible not to buy sans plastic. Don’t buy milk in plastic gallon jugs only to find the cardboard container is plastic coated. Or find out that the yogurt was packaged in plastic 5 but your recycler only takes 1 and 2 plastics.

So, as you can tell, I don’t have the silver bullet to fix this but maybe one of you does. If so, please take action immediately and in a grand manner if at all possible. We are all depending on it.

Plastics and your Health?

A recent March 2011 Study from the National Institute of Health has linked all plastics with estrogenic activity.  Here’s a taste (no pun intended) of what their study says…

Abstract

Background: Chemicals having estrogenic activity (EA) reportedly cause many adverse health effects, especially at low (picomolar to nanomolar) doses in fetal and juvenile mammals.

Objectives: We sought to determine whether commercially available plastic resins and products, including baby bottles and other products advertised as bisphenol A (BPA) free, release chemicals having EA.

Results: Almost all commercially available plastic products we sampled—independent of the type of resin, product, or retail source—leached chemicals having reliably detectable EA, including those advertised as BPA free. In some cases, BPA-free products released chemicals having more EA than did BPA-containing products.

Conclusions: Many plastic products are mischaracterized as being EA free if extracted with only one solvent and not exposed to common-use stresses…

If you read the full study, it does go on to say there are ways to develop plastics with less or no impacts on human health. We can only help that the industrial world can do this!

For the full study refer to the following link;

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222987/

How about BPA and Autism and Cancer and a host of things?

National Geographic Magazine, in an older 2008 article written by Stephen Musson from the University of Florida, sums up Bisphenol A for the layman and links it to EA as well as Autism, cancers, ADHD, childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes and an increase in hormonally mediated cancers such as prostate and breast cancers.   In 2008, the Canadian Government banned use of BPA plastics in baby bottles.  U. S. lawmakers have introduced a bill to ban its use in childrens products.  Many companies such as Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us  announced that they will remove baby bottles comtaining BPA from their shelves.

Refer to the following link for the full story;

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Bisphenol_A

You are what you Eat!

Be aware that like many petroleum products, the uses of plastics should be carefully watched.  Buy food in glass containers when you can. Use reuseable bags as best possible.  Be careful what you feed your children from.  Do not microwave plastic containers or use them past their lifespans. Share your concern of plastic in our environment with your friends and neighbors.

After knowing that plastic is everywhere in our world.  Its not hard to recommend that we eat organic fruits and vegetable and go green.   Understand that you are what you eat!

img_great-pacific-garbage-patch_2

Styrofoam and plastic milk jugs are biodegradable! Do you know what isn’t biodegradable? Paper!
A quote from – Rush Limbaugh

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