"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Plastic Beach

“Marine pollution is a disgusting manifestation of modern consumerism and it necessitates rethinking the ‘story of packaging.’ ”
Thus begins an article The Plastic Beach, in the January/February 2011 edition of Resurgence, No. 264, the beautifully produced magazine “at the heart of earth, art and spirit,” edited by Satish Kumar and his team.

Now in its 45th year, Resurgence exists to encourage “inspiration for a more beautiful world where soil, soul and society are in harmony with each other.”

But back to the article and what it tells us:

Over 70% of the earth is covered by oceans, but we know more about Venus than we do about the ocean floor.
It is estimated that there are 46,000 pieces of marine debris in every square mile of ocean (United Nations Environment programme). Plastic is the greatest culprit.
There are enormous plastic gyres in the North and South Pacific, the North and South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.
In addition the oceans are toxic with chemicals from plastics that have already degraded into microscopic particles, and these chemicals have reached the food chain: mussels and lugworms have already been rendered sterile by the chemicals in some areas. All UK coastal waters contain this toxic “plastic dust.”
At lest one million sea creatures are killed every year by ingesting plastic waste – bags, bottle tops, toothbrushes, cigarette lighters. The pictures of dead birds on the beach, full of this plastic rubbish, are shocking.
I could go on…..

We must stop any more plastic getting into our oceans. Foodstuff and cosmetic packaging is a good place to start. I am not particularly proud to say that if it wasn’t for plastic rubbish I would not need a dustbin. I recycle everything else from my weekly rubbish, but my council will not take plastic for recycling, although all plastics can be recycled; it is a money thing of course. What I can do is try hard to reduce week on week the food I buy that is pre wrapped in plastic – not always easy but I’ll try very very hard.

The plastics industry itself is making some efforts, working with local councils to improve plastic recyling rates, (there is the Plastics 2020 Challenge) but that is not enough. Recycling, reusing, reducing plastic is just sticking plaster on “the gaping wound of planetary pollution.” We must create a new story, make it absolutely unacceptable to produce something that is toxic, or single use or that creates pollution. British Company Cyberpac is producing plastic bags that degrade harmlessly in water. The Good Natured Fruit Company pack their berries in cardboard trays with cellulose windows. The organic tomatoes I buy come in cardboard.

Let’s support when we shop all companies that have made an effort to reduce the toxic pollution that comes from unnecessary packaging.

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