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July 26, 2006

The Plastic Sea

I've managed to get myself to a computer while on vacation (my in-laws are pretty decked out in the technology department).
I saw this article in The Tyee and was sickened by it, especially while having such a great time on the ocean (their house in right on the water). The worst we've found on the beach this trip is half a wine bottle, but we have found lots of plastic and garbage at other times. So please remember to use your reusable cups, bottles and shopping bags - this is yet another reason to reduce the amount of plastic in our lives.


The Plastic Sea
An ocean awash in lethal bags, bottles, pellets, line, tarps and diapers.
By Paul Watson
Published: July 26, 2006

On the beach on San Juan Island, Washington, Allison Lance walks her dogs every morning. She carries a plastic bag in her hand to carry the bits and pieces of plastic debris she picks up. Each morning she fills the bag, but by the next morning there is always another bag to be filled. Joey Racano does the same in Huntington Beach further south in California. The harvest of plastic waste is never-ending. Allison's and Joey's beaches, and practically every beach around the world, is similarly cursed.

Recently in the Galapagos I retrieved plastic motor oil bottles and garbage bags from a remote beach on Santa Cruz Island. Every year during crossings of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, spotting plastic is a daily and regular occurrence.

A June 2006 United Nations environmental program report estimated that there are an average of 46,000 pieces of plastic debris floating on or near the surface of every square mile of ocean.

We live in a plastic convenience culture; virtually every human being on this planet uses plastic materials directly and indirectly every single day. Our babies begin life on Earth by using some 210 million pounds of plastic diaper liners each year; we give them plastic milk bottles and plastic toys, and buy their food in plastic jars, paying with a plastic credit card. Even avoiding those babies by using contraceptives results in mass disposal of billions of latex condoms, diaphragms, and hard plastic birth control pill containers each year.

Every year we eat and drink from some 34 billion newly manufactured bottles and containers. We patronize fast food restaurants and buy products that consume another 14 billion pounds of plastic. In total, our societies produce an estimated 60 billion tons of plastic material every year.

Each of us on average uses 190 pounds of plastic annually: bottled water, fast food packaging, furniture, syringes, computers and computer diskettes, packing materials, garbage bags and so much more. When you consider that this plastic does not biodegrade and remains in our ecosystems permanently, we are looking at an incredibly high volume of accumulated plastic trash that has been built up since the mid-20th century. Where does it go? There are only three places it can go: our earth, our air and our oceans.

Read the rest of the article here.

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