Search Results for: marine debris

Marine Debris Art Contest: Deadline November 30th

Here  are two questions we should all be asking ourselves:

This year the NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest is sponsor another amazing art contest for students in grades K-8 from all U.S. states and territories. Make sure that the artwork answer one of the questions above to help raise awareness about marine debris. Winners will be featured in the 2019 Marine Debris Calendar!

 

5 must-see movies on marine debris

I am so excited to be in a town that is committed to reducing the use of plastic. Oak Park, IL will be implementing a 10-cent tax starting January 1, 2018. As trustee of Bob Tucker noted in August 2017, “What we’re really trying to do is change habits.”   Change for the good lawmakers … my favorite. Why should we care about changing the way we use plastic?

  1. In the ocean there are approximately 5.25 trillion plastic particles.
  2. For every foot of coastline there is approximately five grocery bags filled with plastic, according to estimates in 2010.
  3. Six continents have microfiber washing up on their shores.
  4. Each year, 8.8 million tons of plastic goes into the oceans.
  5. On average, Americans use 220 pounds of plastic per year.

If you want something MUCH more entertaining, and probably up-to-date, than my list of quick stats above here are some must-see films that are worth downloading for the treadmill or even showing in the classroom or your next community event.

A Plastic Ocean (2016/1h 40m/Netflix): Documents the newest science, proving how plastics, once they enter the oceans, break up into small particulates that enter the food chain where they attract toxins like a magnet. These toxins are stored in seafood’s fatty tissues, and eventually consumed by us.

The Plastic Age: A Documentary feat. Pharrell Williams (2014/17m/YouTube): We all talk about the Stone Age, the Iron Age and the Bronze Age, but what era are we living in right now? People are starting to refer to us as the – far less romantic – Plastic Age.

From the Waste Up – Life Without Plastic (2013/1h 16m/Vimeo for $4 rental or $8 purchase to download): Follows the lives of 19 people as they attempt to live without plastic. It explores the concepts of consumerism, waste, and convenience as well as the great abundance in going without. Live vicariously plastic-free as you watch these families navigate through this disposable world. 

Plastic Paradise – The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2014/1h 25m/for purchase but also available on YouTube): Thousands of miles away from civilization, Midway Atoll is in one of the most remote places on earth. And yet its become ground zero for The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, siphoning plastics from three distant continents. In this independent documentary film, journalist/filmmaker Angela Sun travels on a personal journey of discovery to uncover this mysterious phenomenon.

Bag It (2010/78m; educational version 45 and 65m): What starts as a film about plastic bags evolves into a wholesale investigation into plastic’s effects on our oceans, environment, and bodies. We see how our crazy-for-plastic world has finally caught up to us…and what we can do about it.

UPDATED:

Also, an important addition to the list I forgot about is Smog of the Sea. You can get a free download link for the film, released in 2017, here. The music and cinematography (in part) are by the musician Jack Johnson and as the film overview summarizes, “The Smog of the Sea chronicles a 1-week journey through the remote waters of the Sargasso Sea. Marine scientist Marcus Eriksen invited onboard an unusual crew to help him study the sea: renowned surfers Keith & Dan Malloy, musician Jack Johnson, spearfisher woman Kimi Werner, and bodysurfer Mark Cunningham become citizen scientists on a mission to assess the fate of plastics in the world’s oceans.”


Oh, one more here. I am hoping to catch Straws SOON … maybe I can bring it to my new town and more change will come:

Straws (2017/1h 10m): “I highly recommend STRAWS as an educational and entertaining film about plastic pollution. Its brisk and engaging storytelling uses humor, fairness and heart to inspire plastic use changes we all can do…especially no plastic straws!” – Actor and Environmentalist Ed Begley Jr.

UPDATED: I actually just requested a free download for preview purposes so I’ll post on that later this week. Thank you #strawsthemovie.

I am really hoping that since folks finally are able to let go of plastic bags and soon straws that balloons will be around the corner. Anything that’s more harm than good is not worth it … kids don’t know if they just don’t see them. Check out some alternatives to balloons at your next celebration here.

5 on-the-ground warriors for marine debris

I’ll be incredibly frank and honest and say that I do not do as much on-the-ground ocean activism as I’d like to do these days. I do participate the occasion stream clean-up and rally from time to time, but with a full-time job and a family including an active toddler, time is scarce and I’m lucky if I can pull it together to write a post or two or marine debris. Since this upcoming weekend is the annual International Coastal Cleanup I wanting to take the time to send a shout out and a huge virtual dose of gratitude for 5 very active on-the-ground marine debris and ocean activists. If you have the chance, check out what they’re doing as I know every time I read up on what they’re accomplishing I am continually inspired. As a matter of fact, you’ll have the chance to get to know one of them a little bit more in-depth tomorrow as a part of the “What Marine Conservationists Are Into …” series. (On a side note, all of my Virginia friends and family should be on the lookout because I am gearing up to gather a crowd to participate in the Virginia Waterways Cleanups!)

Sarah Bayles of The Daily Ocean
Sarah is steadfastly collecting trash from the same beach for 20 minutes at a time for 365 non-consecutive days to “raise awareness for how much trash is on our beaches and getting into the ocean, that the solutions start with us right here on land, and that everyday we can make choices in what we consume and buy that can add up to make a difference”. Her work ethic is inspiring and she’s diligent in posting the weight of the trash she collects. At the point I write this post she collected 1,234.3 pounds in 325 days.

Danielle Richardet of It Starts With Me
Just like Sarah of Our Daily Ocean, Danielle spends 20 minutes a day cleaning a beach but in Wrightsville Beach, NC and she’s focused on finding cigarette butts. Here incredibly positive message is that “It’s simple…everything we do (or don’t do) has an impact on the world we live in. It starts with me and ripples to you…”. I wish Danielle the best as she continues her quest to “create a smoke-free beach and have proper cigarette butt disposal receptacles installed on Wrightsville Beach”. Can you believe she’s collected 50,129 cigarette butts in 156 days?

Harold Johnson of The Flotsam Diaries
Harold Johnson has been researching and collecting marine debris weekly at two very different sites (one active by beachgoers and one non-active) in Maine since June of 2010. As he puts it, “I’m hoping to learn something about the debris that arrives at the beach both by regular beachgoers, and by actions of wave & wind”. You can read his findings weekly on his blog or get some more detailed reviews of his research at Scientific American.

Cheryl ‘Sandy’ King of Sharkastics
Cheryl is interested in everything ocean-related, but has found a niche spreading the word all about sharkastics. Sharkastics are what she has termed “plastics that have obvious bite marks (e.g., jagged serrations and/or punctures). She posts many images of the debris she finds and is more than happy to share them for educational purposes (although she requests you share with her how you use them).

Tim Silverwood of Take 3: A Clean Beach Initiative
Tim is a surfer and plastic pollution spokesperson based in Australia. In 2009, he and his compadres began thinking about proactive ways the public could reduce the amount of waste entering the oceans. The Take-3 initiative was born. As the website states, “The ‘Take 3’ message is simple: take 3 pieces of rubbish when you leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere and you have made a difference”.

Here is a powerful and beautifully done depiction on why everyone is responsible for marine debris. Thanks to designer and illustrator Jenny Wang for reminding us that it is not just those that live near an ocean who contribute to ocean pollution.

More on marine debris …

I suppose this post is inspired by my frequent visits to populated beaches and the marine debris I’ve been collecting with the help of anyone that asks what I am doing. I hate scare tactics, but pictures make a big impact when it comes to what happens with what we leave behind on the beach. The effects are long lasting and unfortunately out of sight. This is just a little reminder that I hope you share.

What children have to say about marine debris

I just think this review of what children from New York City have to say about beach pollution aka marine debris is too “right on” not to share. These quotes come directly from an article on the Ocean Conservancy’s website. Check out the entire article for some wonderful crayola images the kids did too!

Fourth-graders in New York City conducted cleanups at a local beach and tallied every item they found on Ocean Conservancy’s data card, an experience shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.

The young citizen scientists learned about the myriad ways marine debris threatens ocean health, and created graphs to show the sources of these man-made items.

They shared their findings with us, and we’d like to share them with you. Here are just a few of their observations, presented just as they’ve written them:

Understand marine debris ASAP

Oh no! It is that moment when I am finally relaxed and settled into my chair at the edge of the water and I look up from my book to see a plastic wrapper whizzing into the sea. I take a look around and do not see anyone running to grab it so I get up and run for the trash. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that trash falls out of our hands from time to time. That is why I am one of those people that tend to make the extra effort to do the right thing and pick up after someone else, I hope someone would do the same for me. Basically, I have an active imagination. I see the future of this plastic bag as having a relaxing trip to the open sea where it floats on the bright and sunny surface only to be mistaken for a nutritious and delicious jelly by a leatherback sea turtle. Only it gets lodged in the turtle’s throat. It turns out to potentially suffocate the animal and may lead to his eventual death. Yes, that is where my imagination takes me … Unfortunately it is all too much a reality. Watch this clip of an Ecuadorean team of scientists trying to save this green sea turtle who was too weak to survive since his gut was full of plastic.

This plastic bag and other man made trash items that sea creatures commonly mistake for food are collectively known as marine debris. Items may include plastic bags, cigarette butts, fishing gear, bottles, cans, caps, lids, you name it … it is marine debris. The marine debris doesn’t just come from pieces that fly out of our hands while at the beach. The trash that ends up in our ocean can come from drains and sewers on our street. The ocean is the largest body of water and a part of the world wide watershed.

One of the most alarming illustrations of how much marine debris has ended up in our ocean ecosystem is the presence of the Pacific Garbage Patch. In the northern Pacific Ocean (in between Hawaii and San Francisco) there is an island of marine debris larger than the size of Texas that is held together by a centrifugal force of the ocean current known as the North Pacific Gyre. You cannot see this patch from a satellite image because it is simply suspended particles of shoes, toys, plastics bags, wrappers, tooth brushes and many bottles.

Marine debris is everywhere and is quite a nuisance for life in the oceans. In the summer when we are all enjoying a few relaxing days on the beach or on the boat let’s do our part and “leave only footprints and take only pictures”, ok?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Learn more about marine debris from the short video by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

Also, here is an excellent example of what is being done to acknowledge the issue of marine debris and taking the effort to help eliminate it. Thanks, New Hampshire!

Here is a nice site that outlines what you can do to reduce your plastic footprint.

Image (c) wildeducation.org (leatherback sea turtle) and coffeencrafts.blogspot.com (trash)

PBTs leach from our junk, build up in blubber of marine mammals

bioaccumulation_ecokids.caIt’s a harsh reality, but even our choice of phone case or mattress may not be an easy one if we’re concerned with how we affect our environment. In this 5th installment of “We affect what goes in our watershed” (see posts on fertilizers, marine debris, petroleum, and pharmaceuticals), it’s all about PBTs (persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic) chemicals and how they are a silent threat to many marine mammals, and other top predators in the sea. These toxic threats get processed into their blubber and vital organs by way of bioaccumulation (see image). Susan Shaw, Director of Marine Environmental Research Institute, recently published that the bioaccumluation of North Atlantic harbor seals and noted that “at very high exposures PBTs can impair a mammal’s immune system, making it less capable of fighting off deadly diseases”.

What are the sources of these toxins?

  • Mattresses, upholstery foam, and the plastic casings for electronics
  • From the air or washed down the drain from foam, plastic, or fabric slough off our beds, couches, curtains, and televisions
  • Leaked from manufacturing plants, runoff from cropland, or leach out of landfills.

Positive news is that manufacturers and importers agreed in 2010 to a phase-out of materials using these substances in 2010, declaring that sales will completely be irradiated at the end of 2013. In the meantime, here’s a list from the Environmental Working Group on how to reduce the exposure of the chemicals in your home, also I found a list of PBTfree products for home construction and cars from INFORM  that .

I guess the question is now, what are some things that we can do to remind our family, friends, and  neighbors that what we put in our drains and local waterway matters to the entire ocean ecosystem?

Action Project Ideas: Around the Community (5 of 5)

One idea I had when I started this website almost ten years ago was that I wanted to make science simple and accessible. I hope I have created a place where questions on anything from barnacles to whales can be answered in a knowledgeable no-nonsense or overly jargon tone. My secondary goal has also been to create awareness about ocean-related issues which would lead into actions. Maybe you like watching movies and visiting the shore and understand that there is concern for the ecosystem.

What I have now for the month of November is a series of posts on quick and useful actions you can take in the kitchen, bath, laundry, garage, during the holidays, and around your community to change behaviors and lessen your impact. Each one features products that are tried, true, and tested but I am not being paid. Please read, share, and feel free to comment if you have other strategies.

  1. Shed the straw: Join the movements (#sheddthestraw #stopsucking) to just say no to a straw. Reach out to local restaurants and ask if they would consider only handing them out upon request. There’s a handy card you can print out. Also, maybe request your local library have a showing of Straws a film by Linda Booker or any other movie about marine debris.
  2. Ban the bottle: If your town facilities (i.e., recreation centers, libraries, school) don’t already have them look into installing water refill stations. This will reduce single-use plastic bottles.
  3. Start a school or community garden: This is a sustainable way to provide food and illustrate to the next generation how to build community. Gardens reduce waste and can beautify otherwise dismal areas of the town.
  4. Have a contest: Have students and community groups create art to illustrate an awareness about a particular subject and teach others at the same time. Try to use the materials you used during a debris scavenger hunt (i.e., a fancy word for “litter clean-up”) to create art as well. Check out these amazing creations from the Washed Ashore exhibit currently on display at the Shedd Aquarium. Writing and video contests are also fun! If you’re in need of some help to you get started check out the Chicago-based One Earth Film Fest for fantastic resources.
  5. Write a letter to a member of the community: Let your collective opinions be heard! Include your issue (e.g., marine debris, climate change) as well as why it matters to you and what could be done. It’s very important to be as specific as possible. Don’t forget to ask for a response and say “thank you.” Here’s a template to get you started. This template is focused on writing to Congress but it’s just as important to write to community or state official.

All of the Action Project Ideas:

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Action Project Ideas: During the Holidays (4 of 5)

One idea I had when I started this website almost ten years ago was that I wanted to make science simple and accessible. I hope I have created a place where questions on anything from barnacles to whales can be answered in a knowledgeable no-nonsense or overly jargon tone. My secondary goal has also been to create awareness about ocean-related issues which would lead into actions. Maybe you like watching movies and visiting the shore and understand that there is concern for the ecosystem.

What I have now for the month of November is a series of posts on quick and useful actions you can take in the kitchen, bath, laundry, garage, during the holidays, and around your community to change behaviors and lessen your impact. Each one features products that are tried, true, and tested but I am not being paid. Please read, share, and feel free to comment if you have other strategies.

Next week is Black Friday! I am excited to value the extra time with family by opting outside. Maybe we’ll take a day trip to Wisconsin (please share ideas!). I do always like to do my shopping local at Small Business Saturday. It helps to reduce marine debris by cutting down on packaging from online shipping, etc. However, it’s tough because that means I need to plan ahead. I decided this year to settle in and think ahead of ways that I could lessen my impact on Mother Earth so I can just focus on my guilt of indulgence for my aunt’s fudge (… it’s insane).

  1. Be creative in your wrapping and consider using funny pages, old calendars, or magazines (good for smaller items). If you feel like getting fancy here’s the most beautiful paper in the world for any scientist, naturalist, or teacher. Reusable bags are also a great option. Forget the ribbon all together.
  2. Make your own gifts. Books of tickets are great. Check out this amazingly helpful Etsy shop – Schnickle Tickets – for an easy, easy, easy way to get a cute custom book of up to 14 tickets with a sweet cover with your child’s photo. They’ve got enough toys! There are lots of other options besides Etsy for unique gifts (iCraft has a lot of options for ocean lover gifts!). Memberships to zoos, nature centers, and aquariums are also worth it!
  3. Put the money aside for a family trip together. There are even places that will give you a discount if you help out and clean up the shoreline.Has anyone ever been to check out Little St. Simon’s Island?
  4. Decorate with items that you find at second-hand shops.
  5. Think about the tree. Tree farms are fairly toxic and use at least forty different types of pesticides. A live tree can’t be cared for past a week of being indoors so make sure you probably dispose/donate it. If you go with a plastic tree you’ll only tap the petroleum supply once. There is no good answer here. What are your thoughts? Comment below!

All of the Action Project Ideas:

If you’re already a regular subscriber – thank you! If not, please take the time to add your email address to the subscribe option at the top of the right hand column. Don’t forget to follow on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Action Project Ideas: In the Kitchen (1 of 5)

One idea I had when I started this website almost ten years ago was that I wanted to make science simple and accessible. I hope I have created a place where questions on anything from barnacles to whales can be answered in a knowledgeable no-nonsense or overly jargon tone. My secondary goal has also been to create awareness about ocean-related issues which would lead into actions. Maybe you like watching movies and visiting the shore and understand that there is concern for the ecosystem.

What I have now for the month of November is a series of posts on quick and useful actions you can take in the kitchen, bath, laundry, garage, during the holidays, and around your community to change behaviors and lessen your impact. Each one features products that are tried, true, and tested but I am not being paid. Please read, share, and feel free to comment if you have other strategies.

  1. Better Life moppingMy mom is coming next week so it’s time to get serious with the floors. This stuff is magic on hardwoods and even helped get rid of some scuffs from the move (when I switched furniture six or seven times) and my dog’s paw prints. The company is based in Missouri and founded by some folks that realized floors should be clean once they had kids. They’re so right. Even though my kids aren’t crawling I’m less miserable playing on the floor with them. Join their mailing list for good deals. It’s so worth it.
  2. Use glass instead of plastic: Food storage and drinks can easily be switched out to glass. Spend some time scoring second-hand stores and lot’s of glass containers are cheap. Honestly, it’s bloody difficult to be #plasticfree or #zerowaste. I like the approach by Kathryn Kellogg in that she’s Going Zero Waste since it’s virtually impossible to be waste free. Limiting plastic isn’t just a good idea to reduce marine debris in the ocean but it potentially cause a correlation with your endocrine system.
  3. Buy bulk: Along the same lines as the using glass it’s an easy transition to quite using the plastic bags for produce and buy bulk. I have not used the plastic bags for produce in years and usually have a kid or two in tow at the store so the stuff is all over the belt. The people are pretty used to it and I have never once heard a cashier say, “what’s wrong with you? Why didn’t you use the bags for these?” It’s one of those crazy things that we accept but we’d be fine without. Packaging makes up 30% of our waste.
  4. Make your own cleaning supplies.
  5. Switch to fair trade coffee. Start with one fair trade product and work through others by checking out these helpful resources.
  6. Skip the paper towel and try the cellulose clothes. Just try them if you see them. Lots of places sell them and you won’t be out of paper towels again. Cause … you’ll never need them. This is what we are currently moving on from in our house.
  7. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. You’ll save money and it’s a huge reduction in energy use.
  8. Make sure your wood stove is up to date and clean. Did you know you can install a wood stove inside a fireplace?

All of the Action Project Ideas:

If you’re already a regular subscriber – thank you! If not, please take the time to add your email address to the subscribe option at the top of the right hand column. Don’t forget to follow on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.