Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Next "Wave" Against Marine Litter - Surfers Against Sewage

Across the pond a group of surfers have been making waves on the fight against marine litter. Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is an environmental charity which has pledged to protect UK's oceans, waves, and beaches.  Since 1990, this group has campaigned for clean, safe recreational waves free from sewage effluents, toxic chemicals, nuclear waste and marine litter. They also have an array of resources including ways to report pollution and medical response forms from beach and ocean related illness.
One of their primary goals is to reduce marine litter on UK beaches by 50% by the year 2020. They are doing this through a series of marine litter campaigns that break the mold of your typical environmental campaign.


The return to offender campaign seeks out identifiable marine litter and sends them back to manufacturers and distributers.  Challenging all businesses to have an Extended Producer/Distributor Responsibility for all products made and sold in the UK.  It also brings the fight against marine litter to the source, aiming to establish greater stewardship and funding for their active campaigns, educational resources, and better infrastructure for recycling.


The UFOs campaign aims to locate the source of Unidentified Found Objects (UFOs) that are recurrently found on UK beaches.  Through the use of research and social networks they hope to identify, trace, and eliminate persistent items of marine litter.  Even going as far as to call for prosecution of those responsible should they fail develop and implement an affective solution to this recurring issue.

break the bag habit

The break the bag habit has been a huge campaign for Surfers Against Sewage.  After a seeming success of the new mandate that will include a 5p charge on single use plastic bags in the UK, taking effect in October of 2015, Surfers Against Sewage want this to be an across the board law, not just for large retailers.  They are also asking that everyone take the pledge against the use of single use plastic bags in English supermarkets.

These are only a few of the marine litter campaigns that Surfers Against Sewage are using in the fight to raise awareness, environmental stewardship, funding for educational programs, and clean up efforts.  More information can be found at their website. SAS.ORG.UK

Chicken Feather Plastic?!!

A company in Mount Crawford, Virginia has invented a way to turn chicken feathers into a biodegradable plastic. The company is called Eastern Bioplastics, and they replace the petroleum in plastics with a strong protein in chicken feathers called, keratin. There is an abundance of chicken feathers from the 8 billion chickens that are consumed in the united states each year. Instead of adding these feathers to the landfills, Eastern Bioplastics are repurposing them into sustainable, earth-friendly products. 

Eastern Bioplastics turns chicken feathers into bioplastic pellets which are distributed to other companies which make sporting equipment, office furniture, and automotive parts. Another use engineers are experimenting with is the use of chicken feather plastic to make electronics and circuit boards. Every year the world throws away 20 to 50 million metric tons of electronics, much of which are cellphones, tablets and computers. If our electronics are made with bioplastic, instead of filling the worlds landfills with tons of materials that will never go away, we’d be throwing away something that would decompose fully in three to six months




Eastern Bioplastics has also recently created a product using chicken feathers called, Environmental Bioprotector. It is a fluffy, powder substance that is oil absorbent and can be used to clean oil spills. This substance can absorb seven-times it’s own weight, and does not absorb water. The environmental bioprotector sits on top of the water and absorbs the oil that is mixed into the water, once it’s absorbed, the oil it can easily be skimmed off the surface of the water.


Eastern Bioplastics has found a way to reduce bio-waste, reduce plastic waste, and create products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. According to their website, switching to bioplastics could reduce the carbon footprint by 50%. Eastern Bioplastics also urge companies to make the switch to bioplastics because it has economic and financial benefits. They are creating a profit from a product that was previously waste, and has no cost to use. Eastern Bioplastics claim that products created from bioplastics have a greater market appeal, because it’s sustainable, and that is something today’s consumers care about. As well they are not disrupting the global food supply, and their bioplastic can be used in existing machinery so companies won’t have to make any expensive updates. Eastern Bioplastics have proven that we can have a great commercial shift now. That companies could stop the production of new plastic, switch to bioplastic, and continue to make products without skipping a beat. 

Scientists at the University of Southern Mississippi, are also creating ways to stop plastic pollution in it’s tracks. They are developing a type of bioplastic that can dissolve in sea water. Their hope is that they could use this bioplastic for food packaging, grocery bags, water bottles, plastic food utensils— all the things that regularly end up in the ocean, because roughly only 18% of plastic actually gets recycled— and then the plastic that accidentally ends up in the ocean will dissolve in approximately 20 days. Because the bioplastics are made from organic materials, they will not give off any toxic byproducts when they dissolve in the ocean. 



From the blog posts I’ve done this term I’ve tried to prove that solving the problem of plastic pollution is something we have the capability of doing now. We have the technology to clean the oceans, to stop the production of new plastic, and reuse the waste piling up in our landfills without upsetting our current lifestyles. Scientists, engineers, and environmentalists have already created, tested, and proven that we already have successful, sustainable alternatives that can replace our current products that are hurting the environment. The only thing we have left to do now is to implement these new technologies. 

I think the biggest challenge is going to be standing up to corporate giants who have the corner on oil based products and fuel, and prove to them that today’s consumer no longer wants those things. Today’s consumer cares about the environment, they are concerned about global warming, and pollution, and depleting resources, and they are ready for change. If consumers were given more choices, corporations would see that people would spend their money on sustainable products. If you agree and would like to see a change in our current systems here are some ways you can take action!

Support 

people who are taking initiative, 

Participate 

in local initiatives in your communities, 



Contact 

The corporate giants and law makers,

  • Tell big companies you want more choice in the products you buy. Twitter has been a great resource in getting companies to listen to their consumers, the more of us tweeting at big corporations, the more they will listen. Here is a successful example of a company changing their advertising based on the demands from their consumers. 
  • Contact your law makers and tell them you want alternative fuel sources
  • That you want laws that hold plastic producers accountable for the damage they are doing to our environment, 
  • And laws that reduce the production and use of plastic in our communities. Portland and Los Angeles are great examples of a cities that are taking responsibility for their plastic pollution with their plastic bag ban.  



Choose 

to help reduce landfill waste, 

  • by choosing to use reusable shopping bags and water bottles. 
  • Choose to separate your garbage at home into recycling, compost, and landfill waste. 
  • During your work week, bring your own reusable coffee cup to your morning coffee shop 
  • or bring your own reusable containers and silverware to your favorite lunch time restaurants. 
  • If you forget to bring your reusable items, forgo the plastic lids and straws on your drink cups, and ask for paper options. 


Share 

the things you’ve learned on social media,
  • The internet is a powerful tool that allows our voices be heard. Like our Facebook page, and follow us on google plus.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ingredients of your containers

A majority of our population would be hard pressed to know someone, or themselves be parents who do not care about their children's health. Parents caring for their children's health is simply instinctual, a component of humans feelings and thought process. This however, can be easily tricked through clever advertising, omitted information, and simply skewed through "scientific study" findings. With all the savvy consumers, many of these things are becoming increasingly uncovered. One of the longest, and most prevalent lingerers however, is the use of plastic bottles.

Plastic bottles, even those that are "BPA free" will still contain harmful chemicals which will be ingested. What exactly is the plastic bottle made from?

"In the United States, plastics are not made from crude oil. They are manufactured from petroleum products, which include liquid petroleum gases (LPG) and natural gas liquids (NGL), and natural gas.  LPG are by-products of petroleum refining and natural gas processing, and NGL are removed from natural gas before it enters transmission pipelines. These fuels are used as feedstocks to make the plastic and as fuels in the manufacturing process".

- U.S energy information administration.


Now THAT sounds natural (sarcasm intended). So why do companies choose to continue using plastic? Plastic is much more expensive to produce than glass, but costs less to ship. This makes them be roughly the same cost to produce and reliever either glass or plastic.

How about glass? What is glass made of?

"The ingredients for making glass are soda ash, sand and limestone. These are mixed together and put in a furnace. The is heated to 1600C and runs continuously".

-Lesswaste.org.uk
So to reiterate ingredients:

Plastic: "petroleum products, which include liquid petroleum gases (LPG) and natural gas liquids (NGL), and natural gas.  LPG are by-products of petroleum refining and natural gas processing, and NGL are removed from natural gas". (Yum)

Glass: soda ash, sand and limestone. (All purely natural in the truest sense of the word). Around 70% of the glass is only sand.


What can consumers do?

Avoid plastic and cans at all costs. Re use small glass containers, or buy a large glass bottle of pre made tea to continue using for water. Other options include buying a glass bottle with a silicone to protect from breakage (more expensive, but very safe for kids as well!).



http://www.lesswaste.org.uk/glass_section.pdf

Monday, June 8, 2015

BPA: What does it mean to you and your family?

Many of us have heard about BPA (Bisphenol A) and have taken action to avoid it. However, many people still don't know what it is, or why it has such dangerous potential. BPA was previously a common chemical used in numerous plastic products, and is used to harden plastic. Some of the most common places it was found included baby bottles, formula cans, sippy cups, water bottles, and many other everyday products that affect adults and children alike. Fortunately, the larger manufacturers of children's products have removed BPA from what they sell.

However, the FDA still maintains the position that low levels of BPA are safe enough. Some studies still show that there are potential problems with the way BPA affects "the brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and young children," according to WebMD. The concerns continue with risks for cancer, heart issues, brain and behavior problems, and increasing risks for children.

There is funding for studies on the continued risks of BPA, but until there is certainty about it's toxicity, there are steps that should be taken to avoid it. One of the most simple ways to protect you and your family is to purchase products that state that they are BPA free. Many plastic products have been altered in order to meet this standard, and are a much safer option as well. Overall it is important to remain educated about the subject, and to try better BPA free options.

Start with this article in order to find information about BPA and how to make the best choices for your family.

http://www.webmd.com/children/environmental-exposure-head2toe/bpa?page=1