Feel the Plastic In-Between Your Toes

March 20, 2012 by

Picture going to the beach on a beautiful summer day, lying down on your blanket to get a tan and sinking your toes into the warm sand. Now instead, imagine when you slide your feet into the sand rather than soft powder, you feel hard plastic.

Sand is made up of different natural ocean sediments and minerals such as quartz and silica, over time the oceans’ movement wears down these larger rocks and washes it up onto our beaches, giving us sand. However, this seems to be the old definition of what sand was, nowadays plastic is just as prevalent in our sand and we put it there.

Aside from the obvious discomfort for humans, there are many ecological and environmental effects that this polluted sand causes, for example:

  • Of 500,000 albatross chicks born each year on Midway Atoll, about 200,000 die of starvation. Adult albatrosses mistake plastic trash for food and end up feeding it to their chicks. (L.A. Times)
  • Plastic pieces outweigh surface zooplankton in the Central North Pacific by a factor of 6-1. (Algalita Marine Research Foundation)
  • On a single day in 2007, nearly 400,000 volunteers around the world picked up more than 6 million pounds of trash. A majority of the items were single-use disposable plastic items, such as plastic bags and Styrofoam containers. (Ocean Conservancy International)
  • Plastic pieces can attract and hold hydrophobic elements like PCB and DDT up to one-million times background levels. As a result, floating plastic is like a poison pill. (Algalita Marine Research Foundation)

The photo above features two vacuum’s by the company Electrolux, on the left is one of their standard consumer vacuums sold to the public. On the right is a vacuum created by the company completely made from ocean plastics. The company actually created five of these beach plastic vacuum’s with plastic from five different oceans of the world, as a part of their new “clean up the environment” campaign. Electrolux who creates its consumer vacuum’s with 70% recycled plastic says it wishes to reach 100%, but there is a shortage of recyclable plastics available on land.

So the next time that you’re at the beach, make sure you “vacuum” up the plastic around you.

References:

http://www.reuseit.com/learn-more/top-facts/impact-on-oceans

http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/what-is-sand-made-of

http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/vacuum-cleaners-made-from-ocean-plastic-highlight-ugly-pollution-beautiful-design.html

Get Stoked!

March 20, 2012 by

What if you could help a great organization and have an awesome time, all while being at one of the most historic places in New Jersey. Well, YOU CAN!

Every year the New Jersey chapter of the Surfrider foundation throws a bash to raise money for the protection of New Jersey’s waves and beaches called Stokefest. Their mission is to raise awareness for environmental issues such as beach erosion, ocean waste and pollution.

Now I know that you’re thinking this is just another one of those environmentalists groups looking for a donation, but I promise you this isn’t your ordinary fundraiser. Here are a few reasons why I think you should check out the Stokefest on Apr 21 2012 – 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM:

1. The Venue: The Stone Pony is one of the world’s best known music scenes. It has served as a starting point for many now famous musicians such as Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. Located in the heart of the Jersey Shore in Asbury Park, the Stone Pony is right on the boardwalk; every week local and nationally recognized musicians  travel to this place to showcase their talents and have a good time.

2. The Performances:  Stokefest will feature numerous bands playing many different types of music, all night long. There will also be a chance to leave with some swag, Surfrider will be giving out door prizes and for a $10 advanced ticket price, you can’t miss this chance to rock out!

3. The Cause: New Jersey’s pride and joy is our shore and as residents of this wonderful state, we should feel an obligation to protect it. Surfrider is our voice, they fight politically and raise awareness for the ecological and ennvironmental problems caused by ocean pollution.

So mark it in your calendars and get your tickets today for, Stokefest 2012!

Taking a stand against plastic

March 20, 2012 by

Plastic! Plastic! Plastic!

Did you know that plastic bags are among the top two items of debris found most often in coastal cleanups? Second only to cigarette butts (not surprising). Plastic bag use has increased significantly since its creation. Everyday plastic bags are being used at restaurants, boardwalks, and clothing stores. The many benefits of plastic bags (light weight, convenient, cheap) screened us from the underlying problem. An unforeseen consequence of this plastic boom has since been realized. Beaches filled with plastic debris, and floating islands of plastic waste has jumpstarted some states and countries to take action. Here are just a few countries that have either banned plastic bags completely or used taxes to discourage its use.

–       China

–       Bangladesh

–       Rwanda

–       Bulgaria

–       Syria

–       Ireland

–       South Africa                                                                                                                          Sierra Club Beach Sweep 

Get Involved!

There are ways that you could get involved in keeping New Jersey beaches clean and plastic free. Every year the Clean Ocean Action group holds two Beach Sweeps programs around different beaches in New Jersey. Volunteers gather at different designated locations on beaches throughout NJ to pick up unsightly harmful debris. Beach Sweeps is a good way to get the community together and keep our environment clean. Next time you’re walking on the beach and step on garbage think about how you could have helped…

A Greener Music Festival

March 20, 2012 by

Having attended several outdoor music festivals I have witnessed first hand the level of pollution created from these events. Although I love music festivals, I can’t help but feel guilty because of this.  Being environmentally friendly I began to wonder if festival holders were making any efforts to combat the mess they create. In my search for the answer I discovered A Greener Festival. A Greener Festival is a company that helps create environmentally friendly art and music events and festivals. Each year festivals are able to apply for A Greener Festival Award.  After reviewing the festivals, A Greener Festival gives the award to festivals they feel are making a great effort in reducing their impact on the environment. In 2011 they awarded 46 festivals with the award one of them being Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo

A Greener Festival awarded several music festivals 2011 that are in the United States. Bonnaroo is one of these festivals and this makes it the fifth time they’ve received this award. Bonnarro is held on a farm in Manchester, Tennessee and this year is from June 7 to the 10. There’s 150 performers some including, Radiohead, Bon Iver, The Avett Brothers, Foster The People, The Kooks and many many more! There are also several comedians making an appearance. Bonnaroo is an extremely unique experience and allows you to camp out right on the site of the festival. Not only do they have performers, but they also have art exhibits, a movie theater, a silent auction, water slides, a trading post, a wide selection of food and much more!

What Makes Bonnaroo Green?

What could make a four day festival that gives off the vibes of Woodstock even better? The fact that they are doing so much to give back to the environment. During the ticket buying process they ask for donations to help improve the sustainability of the site of the festival. Bonnaroo has a variety of partners who are dedicated to improving the environment as well. One of the partners that they’ve teamed up with is the company Clean Vibes who are responsible for on-site waste control. In 2011 they helped Bonnaroo keep 238.31 tons of waste from the landfill. That is 68% of their total waste volume! They also team up with Rock the Earth which is a non-profit organization that works to protect natural resources by partnering up with the music industry. They encourage carpooling as a means of getting to Bonnaroo and even have a solar powered stage. Also, there is a large compost pile on site and they do research to develop more renewable energy sources!

Sound like the festival for you? Purchase your tickets here or sign up to be a volunteer with either the Work Exchange Team or with Clean Vibes. For helpful tips to make your experience at Bonnaroo one to remember check out their YouTube channel or bonnarootips.comThis is just one of the amazing festivals awarded the Greener Festival Award in the United States and the others include LollapaloozaAustin City Limits and Lighting in a Bottle . If you’re feeling adventurous and want to experience environmentally friendly festivals occurring around the world here is a complete list of the festivals awarded the Greener Festival Award in 2011. Don’t miss out on your chance to experience an amazing music festival while helping the environment at the same time!

Frack is Wack

March 20, 2012 by

Hydraulic fracturing also known as fracking is the process of which pressurized fluids and chemicals are inserted into rocks in the ground which releases natural gases into the environment. Organizations such as Greenpeace and Sierra Club have done their best in the fight against fracking. They’re fighting these major oil companies to put a stop to this dangerous process. Major companies reason for the ongoing process is that it provides economic stability for people. The issue with that is people are having health concerns around the communities where fracking is taking place. For people who do not understand the process here it is in a two minute video.

Water and air are the two elements that can be affected the most. Fracking can release many chemicals in drinking water supply that is not safe for us. In addition to that, it releases harmful pollutants in the air as well. This can cause breathing problems for people around the area. Who wants to drink water and breath air that isn’t clean or safe. Fracking is a constant threat to all of that. Do you part in your community to make sure fracking is not part of your town.

Reuse Your Old Junk

March 20, 2012 by

The common misconception about practicing environmentally friendly behavior is that it is a difficult process in which one has to give up the things they enjoy. However, practicing sustainable behavior can actually be a fun creative past time. You can be environmentally friendly without taking huge steps, like selling your and taking public transportation or installing a lo-flow toilet. The key to going green? Start small! There are various different steps that people can take to recycle household items that they no longer have use for. Not only is reusing things you have lying around the house good for the environment, but it can be fun, and also save money!

A few fun, simple ideas you might not have though of are:

Old T-Shirts: Have a favorite t-shit that you can no longer wear? Sew a couple of t-shirts together and make a pillow case or even a reusable shopping bag.

Mason/Sauce Jars: Wash out old mason or sauce jars and use them as a vase for flowers.

 Tires: Don’t send your old tires to the junk yard, use it to make a tire swing!

Baby Food Jars: One youre finished with baby food jars, wash them out and use them as votive candle holders.

For more fun, creative and money saving ways to be environmentally friendly, click here!

The New Coke v. Pepsi

March 20, 2012 by

Coke vs. Pepsi– A never-ending battle of the brands of refreshing beverages. Since the introduction of their advertisements in 1886 and 1903, Americans have been trying to chose which soft drink they favor the most.

Recently people have a new decision to make:

Clean and safe drinking water vs. unsafe potentially harmful drinking water

The people of New York City have had the opportunity to have these vending machines conveniently placed for the indecisive consumer:

This is a campaign designed by UNICEF that gives you choices of which disease you would like to contract from drinking a bottle of their delicious dirty water. Pay $1 and get malaria, cholera, typhoid, salmonella, dysentery, hepatitis, and so on.

The choice is yours. Clean or unclean drinking water?

By donating 1$ to this campaign you are giving 40 children the chance to eliminate this choice.

Don’t you think they should have an equal opportunity to decide what they want to drink too?

What Goes Around Comes Around

March 20, 2012 by

 

The late Tupac Shakur once said, ‘I believe that everything you do bad comes back to you. So everything that I do that’s bad, I’m going to suffer for it’. It is ironic that people pollute the water they are so dependent on.  The planet Earth is 70% water. Eventually pollution will bite back and affect the living things on the planet.

A direct correlation to the effect of pollution on sea life.

One of the main causes of marine pollution is toxic waste that gets thrown into the ocean. Amazingly,  in the toxic waste article, toxic waste is the “most harmful form of pollution.” Although people have been well informed of the polluted ocean waters, the pollution has not slowed down. Instead, the amount of marine pollution has been increasing. Marine pollution not only harms marine life, but it harms people as well. As a result, toxic waste pollution has a huge impact on our health. One of the main ways that toxic waste could affect humans is through seafood.

Why is it harmful to us if pollution ends up in our ocean? Well according to the same article, it’s because of the food chain. If a fish eats some kind of toxic pollution, then we could end up eating that fish as seafood. Toxic waste ends up in the ocean by leaking off of the landfills, mines, farms, and sewage drains. This harm could be as minor as a stomach bug or as major as a deadly poison. Look, not all our seafood is tainted. Greater public recognition will be critical in encouraging prevention and building public support to meet the challenges of marine pollution.

A Solution?

The Oracle Think Quest on Ocean Pollution provides tips on how to reduce toxic wastes:

This type of pollution can be stopped by watching what pollution we are letting into the ocean. People are trying to decrease the amount of waste in the oceans by recycling as much garbage as they can so there is a smaller

Another article also provides ways to prevent toxic wastes

  • Never pour any oil or other chemicals onto the ground or into drains
  • Recycle all oil and chemicals
  • Consume less pesticide-dependant foods
  •  Compost your household

The issue now has been brought up to our schools, so the next generation of people do not make the same mistakes that we have made.

Excess baggage

March 20, 2012 by

The sun is shining, the weather is warm, and the local shops are all gearing up for the busy summer season.  The inevitable influx in visitors breaths life into the dormant winter economy.  The empty towns and beaches fill up with people, cars, cash, and plastic.  From broken inflatable tubes to solo cups, trash is left when everyone leaves for the day.  The plastic bags drift  like tumbleweeds on the empty beaches.

Unfortunately, trash cans on the beach are not always enough to keep the trash off and even then it will end up in a dump for the next 1000 years.

Fortunately there is a use for these pesky polymers and the solution can make business owners a bit of money during the ever important summer.

 Yarn!

Plastic bags can be made into yarn, which can be made into clothing, which can be sold in local stores. It keeps the businesses making money and the bags of the beach.

Trash is an inevitable by-product of summer crowds, but with a little creativity the unsightly plastic can be converted into eye pleasing garb.

Follow the link for a plethora of great plastic yarn making techniques.

green upgrader

Reusable Bags: The Key to Helping a Species

March 20, 2012 by

Survival. Everyday, the Cotton Topped Tamarin monkey fights for this right in the tropical rainforests of Colombia. Being from Colombia, this affects me personally because we view this animal as a national icon. The world holds only 6000 of these monkeys. When I used to live in Colombia, people would take this species for granted and litter the Tamarin’s home.  In rural areas, there are no formal means to manage waste. As a result, most trash is thrown to the roadside. The country was experiencing a challenge with the amount of plastic bags that were found in tropical forests. As a result, Project Tamarin was made.

 Mochilas are traditional bags made in Colombia.

Rosamira Guillen, the executive director of PT describes one effective way to solve the problem, “The Eco-Mochila Project.”  Project Tamarrin or Proyecto Tití has sponsored the development of eco-mochilas. The project allows people to transform lying plastic bags into these colorful reusable bags. That’s how eco-mochilas were born.  The reusable bags can reduce the amount of plastic bags found littered in the Tamarin’s home. Take that trash and turn it into something that makes a difference in the lives of people and tamarins!

 Atta Girl!

In Turning bags into beautiful bolsas, the author reveals that:

Proyecto Tití helped create a group of woman called ASOARTESANAS. These women inspire villages to collect and prepare plastic bags so they can be crocheted into an eco-mochila. My cousin told that me that sometimes the women go door to door and explain the importance of protecting the Tamarins. The article states that it takes approximately 100-120 plastic bags to make one eco-mochila!!

Now that’s a great way to get rid of all those old plastic bags!!

$$$$$

Guillen reveals that with “a stable source of income, residents are able to turn away from destructive economic activities, such as capturing cotton-top tamarins for the pet trade or contributing to deforestation.” The people who share their villages with the Cotton Top Tamarin now have an alternative solution. The Eco-Mochillas help people make money. Plastic bags that were once discarded by people have become a form of currency. Villagers now learn to appreciate and cherish their special neighbors.

Alert!!! This video is in spanish, but it shows the process of making these reusable bags. If you are not blind, then you will be fine. You’ll Live. Come on and check it out!!

References:

http://www.rollinghillswildlife.com/animals/t/tamarincottontop/tamarin_cotton-top.pdf

http://wildlifeconservationnetwork.org/wildlife/cottontop2.html

http://science.kqed.org/quest/2008/06/19/turning-plastic-bags-into-beautiful-bolsas/