On World Oceans Day, let’s talk about the 8 million metric tons of plastic that ends up in the oceans every year and what you can do about it.
Your closet and dresser drawers are full of plastic - and not the kind from packaging, straws and shopping bags. Some of our favorite fabrics, whether it’s techy workout gear or your fleece winter pullover, can release upwards of 730,000 synthetic particles per wash. When these synthetic fibers end up in our waterways they become a form of microplastic pollution.
Microplastics are exactly what they sound like: tiny pieces of plastic that result from the inevitable breakdown of the plastic products around us. As they get smaller and smaller, microplastics become harder to catch, clean up or keep out of our rivers, oceans and marine food webs. ...
—Belinda McFadgen, for OEC
When Victor Vescovo was about to dive into the deepest part of the world’s oceans, he was probably not expecting any plastic to beat him to it. However, deep down in the Pacific Ocean there exists the Mariana Trench, where Victor spotted a plastic bag and several sweet wrappersfloating almost 7 miles below sea level.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise. While humans produce approximately 78 million tons of plastic per year (see infographic below), and an alarming 86% of this ends its life as non-recycled plastic waste.
The plastics crisis is a global phenomenon, and to address it we require comprehensi...
The toxic effects of plastics pollution on human health
—Belinda McFadgen, for OEC
In early March of 2019, a Cuvier’s beaked whale washed up dead in the Philippines. The whale had died of gastric shock, brought on by the 88 lbs. of plastic bags found in its stomach.
The sheer volume of plastic waste and its brutal impact on marine wildlife is shocking. But just as disturbing is the emerging story of how the toxicity of plastic pollution is affecting human health and the health of the planet as a whole.
A growing understanding of toxic effects
More than twenty years ago, a health hazard from widespread plastic use made headlines. In 1993, ...
By Belinda McFadgen, OEC Volunteer.
“Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for centuries.” That’s how our friends at Environment Oregon describe the problem of pollution from straws, bags, take-out containers and other single-use plastics. And now, after 14 communities across Oregon have adopted ways to limit single-use plastics, Environment Oregon and Surfrider Foundation are leading an effort to apply solutions statewide.
THE 2019 BILLS
SB 90 and HB 2670 would require restaurants to provide plastic drinking straws only upon customer request. [How these bills fared: SB ...
In case you missed it: China is restricting imports of U.S. waste material. Headlines about the National Sword in the Pacific Northwest may sound discouraging — but it may be the change we need to build a healthier future. OEC spoke with Pete Chism-Winfield of the Oregon Association of Recyclers. Here’s Pete’s five top take-aways from an insider’s perspective:
1 China is trying to protect the environment
China’s decision to stop accepting imports of waste is an effort to clean up their own air and waterways. For years, when cargo ships brought goods into Oregon, it has been cheap and easy to return them filled with scrap ...