I just want to say one word to you - Plastics

To refresh the fight to get the use of plastics in our everyday world diminished.... i'll bring you these updates.

*According to a recent study regarding plastics in our oceans....scientists who previously thought plastics broke down only at a very high temperature and over hundreds of years, have found that some plastics actually may break down at cooler temperatures than expected and within a year of trash hitting the water. While at first that may seem like a good thing since it means less trash laying around, it is through this process that the plastics leach potentially toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A into the seas.

In traditional toxicity testing, it has shown that the bisphenol A would have no detrimental effects below a certain dose... however, with even those small doses, there is room for concern. Research has shown that the chemical, most notably found in the compounds to make plastic, also mimics estrogen and can effect the body endocrine system. These effects are often most pronounced in humans when they are in stages of rapid development, such as in the womb or during childhood. This can lead to things such as abnormal penis development in males, early sexual maturation in females, an increase in ADHD, autism, obesity, type 2 diabetes and in prostate and breast cancers. So, while we may not be drinking sea water and this polluted soup directly, we must remember that the ocean, much like the earth in general... is a cycle and fish that swim these seas and are immersed in these toxins find their way into our food stream as humans.

*Speaking of trash in the ocean, did you remember earlier this summer when an Air France Flight 447 went down off of the coast of Brazil? At first, investigators said that they had located pieces of the plane in the southern Atlantic Ocean which might lead them to clues about the crash, but once the investigators got to the site in the ocean, they found nothing but run of the mill, ocean trash.

"Most debris from the crash of Air France Flight 447 would head toward Brazil and arrive within a couple of months; but wherever the remnants land, the plane debris would be difficult to distinguish from the mountains of trash that wash up on beaches every day", Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a oceanographer and author of a book called "Flatsometrics and the Floating World" said. "The trouble is that there is so much debris on eastern Florida that's from South America. Anywhere, it's very unlikely that anyone will recover [the plane debris]," he said. "It's very likely that debris that would provide closure for loved ones would go in the Dumpster because [beachgoers] don't know what it is." (Since this story was posted, about 1,000 parts of the plane have been recovered from the Atlantic Ocean - including a nearly intact vertical stabilizer-rudder, an engine cover, uninflated life jackets, seats and kitchen items.)

*Last month as well, Seattle lost it's battle with eliminating plastic bags from stores with a proposed 20 cent "bag tax" or "green fee", much like Dublin Ireland. Seattle City leaders had passed an ordinance to charge the bag fee, which was to start in January. However, the plastics industry, led by the Progressive Bag Affiliates (an arm of Virginia based American Chemistry Council) bankrolled a referendum to put the question to voters and lobbied hard to defeat the fee, outspending opponents about 15 to 1. In fact, in August of last year, the ACC spent $180,625 to fight the tax. Most of the money was spent on signature gathering in an effort to put the ordinance in front of voters (that works out to roughly $8 a signature!).

Many opponents of the tax sited the deep recession and a tax related to basic needs, such as food, highly unattractive. As well, while a bag tax may compel more people to bring cloth bags with them from home, it may also increase the consumption of other types of bags - including bulk plastic trash bags for pet waste and trash can liners. Seattle, which is commonly seen as one of the most tax-friendly citizens of the US (over the years they've approved many tax increases for housing, education, transportation) felt that the ordinance had a "nanny-like" quality and that the burden of the fee would fall heavily on the poor. It's not that the people in Seattle are plastic bag lovers, they just feel that nine times out of ten, if you ask an earnest environmentally minded Seattleite to adjust their behavior to benefit the community, they would. Still, proponents of the measure in Seattle as well as in Portland (who also is considering a smiliar fee) and is under the direct radar of the ACC) need to remember that regardless of what city ordinances pass, who gives tons of money to crush efforts, the biggest difference can be made at home by greening-up their shopping habits and using fewer plastic bags and also buying products with less packaging and supporting businesses with a greener footprint. It's not about the fee, it's about the message.

 

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