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Modern Plastics Aren't Helping Anyone

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message 1: by Robert (last edited Jun 08, 2017 02:07AM) (new)

Robert Zwilling | 1976 comments Margaret Atwood Has Some Fixes For A Crisis That’s Slowly ‘Killing Us’

Apparently for some people, eco-fiction is simply entertainment.

This article appeared in Yahoo's Entertainment section. Why Yahoo would list this article as entertainment is beyond me except maybe they thought that an author like Margaret Atwood writes fiction, so if she had anything notable to say it would be entertaining.

The original source of the article was Huff Post collection of articles about plastics.

I have been seeing these articles about plastic popping up here and there but did not realize they were all saved in one place.

It is listed under Huff Post Impact section, but they have a section that is ocean oriented where all the plastic pollution ocean articles are listed in one place.

The Impact section is a collage of articles apparently relating to social issues, but the main Impact page does not clearly indicate how to get to the Ocean section.

This only shows how unworkable the current system of indexing is on the internet and how easy it is to be over looked. If you know where to look you can find it, but if you don't know, chances are you wont easily find it.

Basically we need to treat plastic like it is radioactive. Keep it locked up, don't throw it around like it was garbage, account for every piece of it.
This can be done by replacing plastics with items that are made of
Easily Biodegradable materials
Natural Fibers
Pure Carbon

Wood is a possibility but them we'd probably run out of trees, weeds would be better.

message 2: by Jan (new)

Jan Greene (jankg) | 187 comments I have slowly been working on eliminating the use of plastic in all aspects of my life. When you start paying attention to it, you realize it is everywhere!!
I suppose if enough consumers revolt, plastics will be far less common.....meanwhile I am trying to replace all of mine and dispose of it in a environmentally safe way.

message 3: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod

Costa Rica plans to eliminate single use plastic.

message 4: by Clare (last edited Dec 01, 2017 04:15AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
Excellent alternative to plastic packaging from Indonesia, the second largest ocean plastic polluter.

message 5: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
Last year China reduced the amount of plastic waste it imported to recycle, by 90%. This shocked the waste market.
Now China has just blocked all waste imports in most cases, both plastic and paper. The price has crashed.
Rather comically a Chinese spokeperson says that hazardous and dirty contaminants were harming China's environment. The Irish spokesperson explains that food contamination makes paper and plastic waste useless. He is more concerned with food packaging than bottles.

message 6: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1574 comments Mod
My town's recycling center stopped taking plastics, except for #1 plastic water bottles. Those are used by a local manufacturer to make some plastic products. All other plastics are thrown in the trash.

message 7: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
Awful. This is oil.

message 8: by K.G. (new)

K.G. (kgjohnston) | 25 comments Margaret Atwood's suggestions are excellent.

Two points really stood out to me.

1) "Microplastic particles are affecting marine algae, which is the 'basic building block of oceanic life,' Atwood adds. Marine algae are responsible for making about 70 percent of the oxygen we breathe. Destroying them could mean killing ourselves."

2) That if we continue on the same path, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans by weight than fish!

My sister called me the other day and sadly let me know that 8 women, the mothers of her kid's friends have died in over the last year of cancer. She said these women were health and fitness savvy. I think plastic with its ability to mimic estrogen might be part of the problem. Check out this article

My wife and I have been trying to eat generally a whole food diet (no or very little processed food) but we are still amazed at the foods like honey that are packaged in plastic.

Yes, we all need to change our habits in terms of what we purchase and how we dispose/recycle plastic but where are the industry leaders in all this? Hey, you guys the major part to play in this serious issue! Be brave, think differently, systemically, more holistically like this company

Your health and the health of your grandchildren are at stake. Market your innovative solutions like returning to inert material for packaging. You might make a few cents less per item but you'll show yourself to be a true leader, gain our loyalty by branding your company as one that cares about our health and the well-being of our planet.

message 9: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
Thanks for your detailed post.

message 10: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 1976 comments The Chinese do have a legitimate problem dealing with their own plastic waste. Every country does. They got a billion consumers so they don't need extra plastic.

Would be nice if they could but there is no miracle cure for plastic garbage.

For years the supposedly countries cleaning up their acts had all their manufacturing for the products they used located in other countries. The same for the waste, it was shipped to other countries to let them take care of it, as if they had some kind of magical process. Meanwhile the pollution in faraway countries didn't stay there.

As time goes on plastic keeps shredding plastic bits into the environment. Products made from recycled plastic sheds the plastic at a faster rate.

Silent Spring Has Come Back Round Again

The best way to picture it is to imagine that the Earth ran into a huge plastic comet or asteroid that was 10 miles in diameter sometime in the last 20 years. There was no bang, no dramatic explosion, but the fall out from the silent impact fell all over the world. It's everywhere, now mixed into the ground up to 10 feet deep in places. It's in every ocean. It's gets naturally recycled back into the environment and then into our food.

The plastic bits is the pollution we can see. It's just the tip of the iceberg. And in another 20 years icebergs will be just another memory. And it's still raining plastic bits long after the initial impact.

Adults are lucky, their bodies have only been adding fat and muscle for the past 20 years. Children have been adding organ tissue, nerve cells, bones and other vital parts to their bodies during this whole time.

message 11: by Ken (new)

Ken Kroes (ken_kroes) | 69 comments A piece of ugly trivia for you...

Globally, we use about 5 TRILLION plastic bags per year.

As for the micro-plastics, there are a few easy things that all of us can do to help reduce our "contribution".

1. Avoid buying clothing that has synthetic fabrics
2. Wash full loads in cold water
3. Tire wear is also a big contributor to microfibers in our environment. Check your tire pressure regularly as low inflated tires have more wear. If you can afford it, buy tires that have long tread life.
4. Tell friends to do the same!

message 12: by Robert (last edited Feb 16, 2018 05:56PM) (new)

Robert Zwilling | 1976 comments Good tips

message 13: by K.G. (new)

K.G. (kgjohnston) | 25 comments Ken, Great ideas. Thanks.

message 14: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
I would also say, buy a few fabric shopping bags and leave a few in the car, if you drive to the shops, or hang some by the door. Every bag you re-use or substitute is one not gone to waste.

message 15: by Annis (new)

Annis Pratt | 80 comments I have decided to give up plastic packaging, e.g. buy lettuce sold in the open rather than in those plastic containers. Let’s see how it goes.....

>Ken wrote: "A piece of ugly trivia for you...

Globally, we use about 5 TRILLION plastic bags per year.

As for the micro-plastics, there are a few easy things that all of us can do to help reduce our "contrib..."

message 16: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 1976 comments I have never liked the idea of vegetables pre-wrapped in plastic bags. The only ones I get that way are the potatoes.

message 17: by Virginia (last edited Feb 17, 2018 12:22PM) (new)

Virginia Arthur | 18 comments The French refer to American's obsession with wrapping everything in plastic, "body bags".

message 18: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 426 comments Mod
Virginia wrote: "The French refer to American's obsession with wrapping everything in plastic, "body bags"."

Wow -- now I'm picturing every salad preparation in our kitchen as a gruesome "veggie autopsy"... :-(

message 19: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 1976 comments Virginia, Brain,
Those are both priceless.

message 20: by Clare (new)

message 21: by Ken (last edited Feb 22, 2018 06:38AM) (new)

Ken Kroes (ken_kroes) | 69 comments You just can't make this stuff up...

The Canadian Plastic Bag association is challenging a bylaw banning plastic bags in Victoria, BC. It is saying it is the province's role to set the law and not the city's. They say that the lawsuit is not about them being against the ban.

If they are not against the ban, then why not just hold a meeting with the proviince and city and get resolution? Why the lawsuit that costs us all money and delays other cities from imposing similar bylaws?

message 22: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 1976 comments It's because companies can act like human beings and make strange decisions.

Until the companies that make plastic goods realize that it would be in everybody's best interest, including theirs, to stop adding goods made from recycled plastics to their product lines and instead add goods made from biodegradable materials like natural fibers and other safe materials like ceramics, glass, paper. There might even be natural plastics that do safely decompose back into the dirt.

Instead of using weeds that could easily supply a lot of the natural fibers and could be gengineered to make safer, more profitable products they are using second hand garbage to expand their businesses. There is an old computer saying, garbage in, garbage out.

message 23: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
Can you believe, there is plastic in your Tea Bags!
I wondered why I went off tea a few years ago. My taste for it seemed to change and I seldom drink it now.

message 24: by Ken (new)

Ken Kroes (ken_kroes) | 69 comments Thanks Clare!

Guess it is time to switch to beer eh!

message 25: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 1976 comments The plastic is in everything, just like you find trace amounts of everything else we make in everything. We keep seeing the pictures of the sea animals with plastic stuff they ate in them and we think, well, it must be happening to the animals we don't eat. We finally made enough plastic to cover the world with plastic debris. The quiet bang felt round the world. The plastic bits leach out chemicals that get into stuff the plastic doesn't physically touch. We're soaking in it. Just like the poles have already melted, the plastic is out of the bag. Margaret Atwood is saying it's happening now, not something that will happen sometime in the future. If something needs to be made of plastic make it, if it can be made of something else, then make it out of something else. People on the lower economic rungs are in very close contact with the environment and they have no need to invest in our virtual impression of our clean life styles when the fallout is raining down on them everyday. We are very lucky, if we don't like something we can get a substitute, we can't imagine what it is like for people who can't substitute clean items for the dirty items they and their children are stuck with everyday.

message 26: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 426 comments Mod
Ken wrote: "Thanks Clare!

Guess it is time to switch to beer eh!"

I second that motion! Barley & hops are health food, right? ;-)

message 27: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
Got to be an improvement!

Mario the lone bookwolf (mariothelonebookwolf) Hi! I am actually posting reviews about different environmental and society issues I wrote a few years ago. Many of the books have just been published in German language or Europa and have never made it to the US. Some of the topics might be interesting. According to the discussion board topic, I would recommend the review about "plastic planet". Best regards

message 29: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
I read some time ago that rich people do not eat or drink anything from plastic containers. They drink from glass bottles, including water. Now I see that all bottled water contains plastic particles.
Good to know the very rich are not getting off scot-free.

message 30: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
I like this one. Adidas makes shoes from Ocean Plastic.

message 31: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 1976 comments No one is getting off of anything. We are living in a cloud of nano particles that has been in existence for 4 billion years.

Things just naturally break down into smaller and smaller pieces as time goes on. Apparently only black holes get bigger over the ultra long term scheme of things. Everything else gets smaller as it falls apart. It's called entropy.

Everything we make, good, bad, indifferent, plus everything naturally on the planet contributes to the nano particle cloud. It blows right through us every day. Our DNA is not impervious to these particles. Five thousand years ago it was all natural, it was normally beneficial to everything, unless it wasn't, for things like uranium and asbestos, both occurring naturally as mineral deposits throughout the planet. The bulk of the materials added to the life expectancy of every living thing. But the bulk of the garbage we have added has little benefit to the living body. Even if it is good, it still has all kinds of additives in it to make it sell better, have a higher profit but those additives do little to benefit life as we know it. Even the plastic clothes add micro bits to the nano cloud as we just walk around. All of it gets into every nook and cranny, passing through flesh like it wasn't even there.

Products made from recycled plastic tend to break down even faster. The whole point is to lessen the amount of plastic in the environment, which companies are not doing. Substitute more natural products into the commercial product, not more plastic into the product. It only makes more plastic fallout.

Plastic is essential for certain markets, like the medical industry, but it is not essential for the food or clothing industries. Anytime it is used a s shortcut it adds unnecessary plastic fallout to the environment, which everyone is exposed to.

VW wants to bring back the diesel engine. The question is, did they clean up the exhaust, which is filled with micro particles, or are they just hoping they can redesign the engine before they start rolling them out for production again. One of the most ironic features of that situation was that the concept of clean diesel engine exhaust was a selling point for the green market.

Mario the lone bookwolf (mariothelonebookwolf) The problem with plastic is so complex and multi-layered that one could argue for days at a time. A few of the key issues are:

1. Phthalates and other chemicals contained in plastics. Both the enrichment in the environment and in humans are massive. Whether animal or human, the masculine and the unborn baby are already massively impaired. The influence of the hormone balance and the control processes of the body are unclear.
2. Smaller and smaller particles: As the microplastic continues to degrade, it eventually comes in orders of magnitude that act at the cellular level. Plastic builds up in body cells and influences processes. Theoretically, the degradation could go on and on until you reach the genetic level. Especially with the advent of nanotechnologies, this option seems more and more likely. If the raw materials are already so small, there is no fair way to degrade to the right size to fit inside the DNA.
3. Pollution of the environment: On the one hand the garbage strudel. Furthermore, fouling one level of the food chain could destroy everything. When microplankton, plankton, algae, plants or certain small fish are extirpated, everything collapses.
4. The massive industrial interests of almost all lobbies.
5. Peak Oil. Not as a panic scenario, but rather in terms of the really irreplaceable raw materials. Such as essential components for many machines and infrastructure. Which one can produce in the right condition with no sustainable methods? The same problem arises with medicines and in other areas. With special fuels and liquids that you cannot or only very expensive products in other ways.
6. The conversion of the infrastructure to decentralized energy production, which must go hand in hand with a reduction of the dependence on plastic and fossil energy sources.

I hope one or the other useful new fact was included in this condensed summary.
I have posted long reviews about some nonfiction topics and I will continue with the most popular and controversial nonfiction books. Yes, that´s some kind of shameless self-promotion, but at least for a good propose.

Best regards

message 33: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
Thanks, Mario.
Ireland's recycling firms are now complaining that they will have to start charging for recycling waste, as China won't accept it.

message 34: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 1976 comments No free rides

message 35: by Ken (new)

Ken Kroes (ken_kroes) | 69 comments I've seen reports that some cities in the US are telling people to put plastics into the garbage bins instead of the recycling bins because there is no market.

Part of the issue, in my opinion, is that recycling is a "for profit" business but the "price" of keeping plastic out of the landfill is not really computed in.

message 36: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 1976 comments I don't believe most products have the true costs factored in. Anything that is pay to play is corrupted from the start, the money is the most important factor. Perhaps the root of this problem is that it was only shuffling the problem over to another country. The real solution is to start removing the plastic from the environment, not to continue adding it by recycling it back into existing products. Imagine what would happen if the plastic items were returned to the origin of manufacture and the companies had to deal with the situation they created.

message 37: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1574 comments Mod
In my town, we now have to toss all plastic except for #1 water bottles.

Mario the lone bookwolf (mariothelonebookwolf) I forgot to post the book on the topic

message 39: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
That's a lot of plastic all right....

message 40: by K.G. (new)

K.G. (kgjohnston) | 25 comments Ken wrote: "I've seen reports that some cities in the US are telling people to put plastics into the garbage bins instead of the recycling bins because there is no market.

Part of the issue, in my opinion, is..."

Yes Ken, our city doesn't collect certain plastic bottles and pop cans in our recycling bins anymore. We have to put them in the trash or drive them to a recycling centre. It discourages a lot of people from recycling them.

message 41: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
I have to expect that this will push the waste to energy scenario - that is, burning.

message 42: by Robert (last edited Mar 25, 2018 12:20PM) (new)

Robert Zwilling | 1976 comments The waste to energy scenario is pushing along under it's own power as the mounting piles of trash propel it into the future. It is traveling slowly because people are insisting that it make a profit.

Until the costs are addressed directly by the manufacturers, no process is going to work because people will be motivated to avoid the fees that should have been paid when the product was first released into the environment. If the true cost of disposing of a product were to be paid up front I would not be surprised if the price doubled.

Sorting out the trash is proving to be extremely expensive and the amount of trash clean enough to be burned that can be pulled out of the trash is never enough to cover the price. Because of air quality laws and local civic awareness all schemes for turning trash into power are relying more and more of the material to be recycled into something else and not burned.

The price of energy is going to come into play at some point as countries balance the cost of making electricity from standard fuels and alternatives versus burning other countries garbage under less stringent air quality controls.

Using digital sensors and AI, people are making automatic trash sorters that actually work. The people using it have to pay a fee to use the machines. The most advanced set up, Bin-E is doing trial runs in Poland and Germany. It is a small unit that only goes in offices where the type of trash going into the bins is highly controlled. No one is generating household type trash at their cubicles. The bins sort out the office trash and automatically call local pickup services when the respective bins are full.

Will people be willing to pay to have these automatic sorters installed in their homes when in reality people should be paid for supplying clean garbage to someone who is only in the business to make a profit? If it's worth money pay people what it's worth. By not paying people or by making them pay a fee this is the same kind of treatment that the business world does to the developing world and their natural resources.

The ironic part is that social platforms are using the same business model by getting personal data from people for free and then selling it at a profit under the umbrella of loose data protection. People should be paid for the use of their personal data, the same way a movie star gets paid every time their images are used.

As long as people use people to make money and not pay them a fair value for their time, effort, and possessions at any level from individuals to countries, the inequality has to come out somewhere.

Since the beginning of time people have known one way or another that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Call it Karma if you want. Newton proved it was true for material things in 1687. That is how this planet works and until people understand that everything obeys the law of gravity, nothing is going to change.

message 43: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
I've often commented that the contents of the recycling bins are a resource.

message 44: by Ken (new)

Ken Kroes (ken_kroes) | 69 comments Good points Robert especially

"As long as people use people to make money and not pay them a fair value for their time, effort, and possessions at any level from individuals to countries, the inequality has to come out somewhere."

This comes into play in many ways including where we take advantage of much lower wages AND standard of living in other countries (i.e. sending recycling to China). A topic that I call modern day slavery in my book, "Feasible Planet".

message 45: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
A canal through London with three miles of plastic.

message 46: by Annis (new)

Annis Pratt | 80 comments I am involved in reducing plastic waste in offices and churches. You start small, like still offering plastic stirrers but make a friendly sign urging folks to just put the cream in (first) or the sugar (last); but you can move on to an in-house set of reusable mugs, dishes, and water glasses. Avoid green bullying in all communications.
I have given up plastic packaging (the thinner kind) that cannot be recycled in my area - crimps my purchases, somewhat, but I always tell the check out person or praise them for offering more paper containers when they do that.

message 47: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1574 comments Mod
Great advice.

message 48: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
Well done Annis!
My college provides thin wooden stirrers, like mini lollipop sticks.
Probably easier to change something people use than ask people to change their habits, at first. Once they realise they are using the wood, they might start to think of other items to swap.
Anyone else got thoughts on this?

And Annis, could you suggest a swap or reduction here once a week, say?

message 49: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 1976 comments That's the way to go, ironically it is back to the past. Shortcuts that can be done another way that is less damaging to our lives and our environment should done another way especially when the number being served is 7 billion. At that scale anything and everything makes a big difference.

message 50: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 5926 comments Mod
Our local shopping centre gave out free Cadbury Easter eggs to customers on Good Friday. The nicest part is that no plastic packaging was used. Just card and foil. I've been telling others and I thanked the main supermarket in the centre by mail feedback.

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