As we slide into 2019, we typically make a list of resolutions, set our priorities and hope that with a little luck and perseverance, we’ll get it right this time and exit the year with minimal damage. Maybe even come out on top.
In this issue, we cheer you on with stories about physical and financial fitness. We’ve even included a vegetarian recipe to get you started on your new plant-based diet. As we consider personal and financial fitness, we should also reflect on the well-being of our
This month I’d like to focus on the use of plastics and their widespread pollution of our lands, rivers, coastal areas, beaches and particularly our oceans where non biodegradable litter tends to accumulate.
According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, plastic debris kills an estimated 100,000 marine mammals annually. Their decomposing bodies are often found on beaches with bright, colorful pieces of plastic remaining where their innards had been.
Our craving for lightweight, handy, durable and relatively cheap plastic has led to over-production and over-consumption of the product, which in turn has created massive widespread pollution often found in humongous garbage patches.
Perhaps the most well-known is the Great Pacific garbage patch, now twice the size of Texas. The plastic debris usually originates on land and is washed into ditches, streams and rivers where it is carried out into the oceans and bays and becomes garbage soup.
This plastic soup is ubiquitous now. No corner of the earth is safe. In a recent citizen-scientist effort to document the extent of micro plastic pollution in the Gulf of Mexico, volunteers and scientists found plastic fragments, fibers and micro-beads in nearly every one-liter sample taken.
Micro-plastics are created when sunlight or wave action breaks down plastic debris into tiny bit pieces. When plastics degrade, they leach toxins that are carcinogenic. These plastics
are now in our waters for sea life to consume for a very long time –if not forever. The will work their way into the food chain and yes, possibly our sushi.
How you can help:
1. Wean yourself off disposable plastics. Refuse to buy plastic straws,
dinnerware and disposable cutlery (except for possible use during a hurricane).
2. Take reusable bags to the store (keep them in your car and you won’t forget).
Support bans on plastic bags, which compose 60 to 80% of ocean debris and can
last for centuries.
3. Understand recycling, what is accepted, and do it whenever possible.
4. When you do go to restaurants, carry your own foil or containers for leftovers. Purchase stainless steel straws to carry with you.
5. Don’t drink bottled water. Use a water filter and reusable bottles.
6. Buy from manufacturers that package their products in smart, sustainable containers. Write to those you think overuse plastic.
7. Purchase clothing and products made from natural fibers.
8. Don’t allow fishing lines and nets to get into the oceans.
9. Teach young people to never, ever litter.
10. Spread the word about plastic pollution. Learn more about plastic pollution at plastic-pollution.org.
It’s going to take monumental effort to change the way we produce, use and dispose of plastics, but everyone needs to be on board to make the seas healthier again. New alternatives need to be developed but, in the meantime, do what you can.
Let Mother Earth know you’ve got her back.
See you in February.
Terri Bryce Reeves, Editor