Posts tagged Plastic

Plastic Rings of Death

Years ago when the dangers of litter to wildlife became apparent, these plastic rings around cola and beer cans were the first item I remember being mentioned.

The plastic rings of death continue to be used by cola and beer manufacturers and tossed into the environment. When I bought bottled water, I added lots of these in the trash bags for the landfill.

I wonder how many plastic rings of death have made it to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

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For Stupid People Who Litter

Smart water drinkers are litterers, not “nerd, dork, geek, brainiac, know-it-all, smarty-pants, smart alek, bookworm, egghead, four-eyes, Einstein or being mistaken for the I.T. guy”. You need to update your website.

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Heavy Plastic

As I was walking down West End Avenue on a very windy day recently, I noticed this large amount of plastic on the sidewalk. While the wind was blowing stuff everywhere, this didn’t move.

It was still there today but had moved a few feet. It was splattered with cream colored paint.

I’m usually afraid of moving something this large, as I fear finding a body or human body parts hidden in its depth. I mean it wasn’t moving in the high winds. It was just there.

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Commentary on Plastic Bags and the Oceans

Here’s an article by Danny Westneat in the Seattle Times concerning a possible 20¢ charge for a plastic or paper bag. He quotes one of my heroes, Curt Ebbesmeyer, who coined the phrase, Great Pacific Garbage Patch:

I figured if anyone would jump for joy at Seattle’s crusade against plastic bags, it would be the flotsam guy.

Maybe you’ve heard of Curt Ebbesmeyer. He’s considered one of the world’s leading oceanic garbologists (though, as he jokes, how many can there be?).From his basement in Ravenna, he uses beachcomber reports to track the comings and goings of floating sea trash. Like dozens of rat-poison canisters that washed onto Washington shores this spring. Or computer monitors, which “always float screen up, eyes peering out of the waves.”

An oceanographer, he also named the Earth’s most shameful man-made feature, the “great Eastern garbage patch.” That’s a Texas-sized soup of plastic junk, swirling in floating clouds across the Pacific between us and Hawaii.

It’s such a huge and indestructible soiling of the sea that Ebbesmeyer feels bad he dubbed it only a “patch.”

“It’s trash that will never go away, stretching across the water farther than you can see,” Ebbesmeyer says. “It would absolutely horrify you to see it.”

So when I asked him what he thought of Seattle’s plan to crack down on disposable grocery bags, I was surprised when he sort of shrugged.

“It’s OK, but plastic bags are not the real problem,” he said. “It’s one little battle out of a million. Go look at what the ocean carries in on a given day. You’ll see what I mean.”

Last month, Ebbesmeyer held a “Dash for Trash” in Ocean Shores. In two hours, 50 people collected an astonishing 2,000 pounds of junk from the beach. Almost all of it was plastic — from fishing floats to shotgun shells to dolls from Japan. Yet very little of it was the plastic bags targeted by Seattle.

I did my own garbology “dig” at low tide in Seattle’s Myrtle Edwards Park. In half an hour poking along 300 yards of shoreline, I found a demoralizing 173 pieces of trash.

Take out the wood (paintbrush), the metal (beer cans, foil wrappers) and the miscellaneous (earplugs, nicotine patches, ropes, a corncob, an orange traffic cone), and I was left with 137 pieces of plastic.

Top item, by far: Plastic bottles. Followed by plastic bottle caps. Then plastic lids and plastic cups. Plus a slew of plastic food packaging.

Number of plastic grocery or drugstore bags? One.

The plan is to levy a 20-cent-per-bag fee on both plastic and paper bags, in hopes we’ll all stop using them. That’s fine, Ebbesmeyer told me. But it’s such a tiny slice of the global plastic problem it’s scarcely worth commenting on.

“If the mayor really wants to get on the stick, he should go after plastic bottles. Or plastic wrapping of food products. Or how about a tax or a ban on petroleum-based plastic, period?”

Now some of you have written to say the mayor, for proposing even this mild intrusion into our lives, is an eco-fascist who’ll pry your bags only from your cold, dead fingers.

But take it from the flotsam guy. He has seen a seabird with 700 bits of plastic in its stomach. He has sampled seawater in which plastic particles outnumber plankton six to one. He has gazed into the planet’s plasticizing heart of darkness.

From out there, this bag flap is a drop in the ocean.

Danny Westneat’s column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or

Personally, I think all the plastic bags have floated to the bottom of the ocean, or have blown away to hang from trees.

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Blending Plastic into the Landscape

This image is scary to me. I was picking up some litter yesterday in the area around my backyard, when I saw a grocery plastic bag blending into the background with leaves. What if the litter on the ground transforms itself and takes over the earth?


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Plastic Pot Recycling

The Sierra Club green tip for today uncovers a great way to get rid of those plastic pots that hold flowers, shrubs and trees. A company in Missouri makes landscaping timbers out of them. That’s great. According to the Sierra Club,

Gardening seems as close to nature as you can get, but the 300 million
pounds of plastic pots and trays used each year often clutter landfills.

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The Mad Bag Lady of Rodd Point

I love this story from the Sydney Morning Herald about Kylie Davis, one woman bagging one bag of litter a day.

“Plastic bags had wrapped themselves around the mangroves, chip packets floated across the rocks, and the tide brought in literally hundreds of plastic water and soft drink bottles. The little beaches with their sandstone outcrops were full of bottle tops, ice-cream wrappers, milk containers, fishing line and all manner of disgusting things.

“The picnic ground had its barbecues regularly cleaned by the council, and the bins emptied, but the rubbish spread by inquisitive birds or senseless party goers was left across the field. Our puppy did what all puppies do: she promptly started to eat everything.”

“This is unbearable,” I told my husband, Mark. “I cannot walk here every day and just think about what a disgrace it is.”

“And I remembered a girl I once travelled with on a cycling tour of Tasmania. She stuffed her pockets full of plastic bags and each time she saw roadside rubbish, she stopped her bike and filled up her bag.”

“I can’t fix it all. But I can leave it better than I found it,” was her motto.

Let’s all adopt that motto. I’ll remember it when I’m overwhelmed about the amount of litter in my neighborhood. Thanks, Kylie!

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