Tag Archives: garbage

The Ocean Cleanup project finally cleaned up some plastic

Well, folks, there’s a first time for everything — the Ocean Cleanup project has successfully deployed a device that collects plastic pollution.

It only took six years, tens of millions of dollars, and a few unsuccessful attempts (or “unscheduled learning opportunities,” in the words of 25-year-old founder and CEO Boyan Slat). The nonprofit’s prior, unsuccessful designs failed to catch any plastic, broke, or overflowed.

The new system even managed to pick up 1-millimeter microplastics, which Ocean Cleanup described as “a feat we were pleasantly surprised to achieve” in a press release.

Now that it finally has working technology, the Ocean Cleanup project hopes to scale up its fleet of 2,000-foot long, plastic-capturing, floating booms. The goal is to remove 50 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the next five years, and 90 percent of ocean plastic by 2040, an effort it estimates will require around 60 devices.

The project has drawn criticism over the years from scientists who argue it provides false hope and is disruptive to marine life. All that money and effort would be better spent diverting the 8 million tons of plastic that enter the oceans every year, the thinking goes.

To his credit, Slat acknowledges the importance of preventing pollution, not just cleaning it up. And his team of more than 80 scientists and engineers have also done some research that has contributed to what we know about the sources, scope, and nature of ocean plastic pollution — although their conclusions are controversial.

The first pieces of plastic gathered by Ocean Cleanup are on their way back to the U.S. to be recycled. Is it a perfect solution to the problem of ocean pollution? Probably not. But at the very least, we can all celebrate today knowing that the Dutch 18-year-old from that TED Talk, who saw plastic while scuba diving and asked, “Why don’t we just clean it up?”, is that much closer to his dreams coming true.

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The Ocean Cleanup project finally cleaned up some plastic

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5 Human Habits Harmful to Ocean Health

By Jaymi Heimbuch, Planet Green

No matter where we live, even if we’re in the middle of the Mojave desert or the middle of farmland in the mid-west, our connection to the ocean is surprisingly direct. The planet’s marine systems are intricately linked with our daily activities, even when those activities seem trivial or distant. Here are five ways small choices add up to big problems for the ocean’s health.

1. Carbon Emissions and Ocean Acidification

Every time we flip on the lights, turn on the water faucet, charge a cell phone, hop a plane or in any other way create carbon emissions, we’re directly causing the acidification of the ocean and the harmful disruption of marine life that results. The ocean can absorb about two-thirds of the carbon emissions in the atmosphere, but the more CO2 it tries to absorb, the more acidic it becomes. This altered pH causes everything from the softening or thickening of crustacean shells to the bleaching of corals to the overabundance of jellyfish. As we pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels, ocean acidification worsens and marine life is being thrown out of whack.

Decisions like skipping an unnecessary plane ride, eating less meat, and buying green power can radically reduce your carbon footprint, and help alleviate one of the biggest threats facing our oceans.

2. Packaging and the Pacific Garbage Patch

Americans generate a lot of trash. Each of us tosses about 185 pounds of plastic per year, a vast amount of it from packaging. From plastic bags, to take-out containers, to packaging used for everything from toys to food, we use up and throw out an incredible amount of something that will never, ever disappear. In fact, much of it is making re-appearances in our oceans. The Pacific Garbage Patch and four other trash vortexes illustrate the problem of plastics in our oceans. Plastics are not only killing marine life, but also entering the food chain to ultimately end up on our dinner plates through the seafood we eat.

By making purchases that take into account the packaging of the products, and choosing to a) minimize as much as possible how much packaging we consume and b) recycling as much of what we do end up consuming as possible, we can make big strides in stopping the flow of plastic into the ocean.

3. Sushi Dinner and Disappearing Seafood

Our fisheries that once seemed endless are now reaching the brink of collapse. Scientists estimate that if our current practices continue, 100 percent of global fisheries will completely collapse by 2050. That is a very short time from now. Even if you think of yourself as a sushi addict in the worst way, or can’t seem to live without salmon or shrimp a couple times a week, you can still make sustainable choices.

By cutting back where you can, keeping an eye on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Guide, and taking advantage of handy techy tools for buying fish, you can help ensure that our seas will have fish in the future.

Photo Credit: mdid via Flickr

4. Over-Consumption and Whale Deaths

Wait, ordering that toy from Amazon.com could cause whale deaths? The short answer is yes. While humans have been sailing the seas for millennia, the shipping industry has skyrocketed over the last few decades. Much of that is due to our rabid consumption habits. Raw materials are transported on container ships to manufacturing plants, and products are then loaded up on ships to be transported to the hands of consumers. The more stuff we consume, the more stuff needs to be shipped across oceans. But crossing paths with those container ships and carrier vessels are whales.

The loud sounds of ships — or acoustic smog — makes it hard for whales to communicate with one another, which means heightened stress levels and decreased opportunities for mating and feeding, among other consequences. Even worse, collision with ships is a major problem for whales, including threatened and endangered species.

Reducing our consumption of material goods can literally help threatened whale populations recover.

5. Driving and Deep-water Oil Wells

Unless you’ve been living far, far away from any media source, you’re probably well aware of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico thanks to Deepwater Horizon, a BP-owned offshore oil rig that has been leaking since late April. It takes just the tiniest leap of logic to connect our reliance on oil to our car-dependent culture. Currently the US uses about 19.7 million barrels of oil a day, of which 71 percent goes to transportation via cars, trucks, buses, airplanes. So, the longer we stay reliant on fossil-fuel powered vehicles to get from point A to point B, rather than bikes and public transportation, the longer we stay dependent on drilling for those rapidly diminishing fossil fuels, which means a high likelihood of risky wells placed in deep water areas of the ocean and the statistically inevitable occurrence of another disaster like the one playing out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Minimizing our reliance on oil equates to keeping our oceans safe from deadly pollution.

Related:
10 Surprising Ways We Can Restore Our Oceans
12 of the Biggest Threats Facing Our Oceans

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Human Habits Harmful to Ocean Health

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Beautiful permaculture farm grows in just three years

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Battletome: Sylvaneth – Games Workshop

The spirit-song rises, and the sylvaneth march to war! The air sings with glorious life magic as the children of Alarielle surge into battle. Great Wyldwoods burst from the heaving ground, called forth by ancient spirits. The Wargroves of the glades advance, flickering along the spirit paths to strike at the enemies of Ghyran, the […]

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo

This New York Times best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing. Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles? Japanese cleaning consultant […]

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The Toxin-Free Home – Alison Haynes

With the amount of junk a family can amass, it seems impossible to keep a tidy home. Home Detox Handbook teaches you how to tackle every cleaning project in your home with ease, from washing stained laundry to scouring kitchen cupboards to creating your own shampoo from household ingredients. The methods presented are not just […]

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Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing Summary – Ant Hive Media

Made for those who find themselves drowning in clutter, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is a must have. What makes this book special is that it delivers a whole new approach called the KonMari method when decluttering, arranging and storing items at home. Author, Marie Kondo, is a Japanese cleaning […]

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Spark Joy – Marie Kondo

Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  has revolutionized homes—and lives—across the world. Now, Kondo presents an illustrated guide to her acclaimed KonMari Method, with step-by-step folding illustrations for everything from shirts to socks, plus drawings of perfectly organized drawers and closets. She also provides advice on frequently asked questions, such as whether to […]

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White Dwarf Issue 128: 9th July (Tablet Edition) – White Dwarf

White Dwarf 128 brings a Season of War! That’s right – there’s a great new Summer Campaign for Warhammer Age of Sigmar kicking off this month, and we’ve got the lowdown plus an exclusive 8-page pullout packed with background to the campaign! As if that wasn’t enough, the Horus Heresy Space Marines from Betrayal at […]

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The Horus Heresy Legiones Astartes: Age of Darkness Legions (Enhanced Edition) – Forge World

This book provides you with updated and revised rules to field units, characters and even the mighty Primarchs of the Legiones Astartes in your Space Marine Crusade army in games of Warhammer 40,000 set during the galaxy-wide civil war that was the Horus Heresy. Compiled within are rules for the Primarchs of thirteen of the […]

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How to Paint Citadel Minatures: Sylvaneth – Games Workshop

Packed with techniques, tips and useful information, this book is an essential resource for any hobbyist interested in the stunning sylvaneth range of Citadel Miniatures. Contained within are step-by-step painting guides consisting of highly detailed photographs and easy-to-follow instructions, and full details of seven different glade colour schemes. Add to this special sections covering Kurnoth […]

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How to Raise the Perfect Dog – Cesar Millan & Melissa Jo Peltier

From the bestselling author and star of National Geographic Channel’s Dog Whisperer , the only resource you’ll need for raising a happy, healthy dog. For the millions of people every year who consider bringing a puppy into their lives–as well as those who have already brought a dog home–Cesar Millan, the preeminent dog behavior expert, […]

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The Art of Raising a Puppy (Revised Edition) – Monks of New Skete

For more than thirty years the Monks of New Skete have been among America’s most trusted authorities on dog training, canine behavior, and the animal/human bond. In their two now-classic bestsellers, How to be Your Dog’s Best Friend and The Art of Raising a Puppy, the Monks draw on their experience as long-time breeders of […]

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Beautiful permaculture farm grows in just three years

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Care about global climate change? Then fight local air pollution

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The dirty fuels that cause pollution also cause global warming. hxdbzxy/Shutterstock Leaders of developing countries should take a look at a new study by professors and researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the University of Chicago, and keep it in mind when they go to Paris to discuss a global climate agreement this December. According to the study, published in the journal Economic & Political Weekly(EPW), “India’s population is exposed to dangerously high levels of air pollution.” Based on ground-level measurements and satellite data, the paper estimates that 660 million Indians live in areas exceeding the Indian government’s air quality standard for fine particulate pollution. The causes are the same as they are everywhere: cars, industrial activity, and electricity generation. Coal is India’s primary source of power, accounting for more than half of its energy portfolio. Car ownership is rapidly becoming more widespread, and Indian cars often run on diesel, which generates more particulate pollution than gasoline. While diesel emits less carbon, it may cause just as much global warming because the soot it creates is also a contributor to climate change. It’s not new news that India’s air pollution is terrible. The 2014 Yale Environmental Performance Index found India had the fifth worst air pollution out of 178 countries, and the World Health Organization ranked 13 Indian cities among the 20 in the world with the worst fine particulate air pollution. As The New York Times noted in a 2014 editorial, “According to India’s Central Pollution Control Board, in 2010, particulate matter in the air of 180 Indian cities was six times higher than World Health Organization standards.” Here’s why this matters for climate change: The dirty fuels that cause particulate pollution are the same dirty fuels that cause global warming. Cracking down on local air pollution will not only save lives, it will shift the economics of energy toward cleaner sources that produce less carbon. The willingness of India and other populous developing countries such as China, Brazil, and Indonesia to adopt such policies may determine the fate of the Earth. Read the rest at Grist.

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Care about global climate change? Then fight local air pollution

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Care about global climate change? Then fight local air pollution

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America sucks at recycling, so we’re burning trash again

America sucks at recycling, so we’re burning trash again

By on 12 Jan 2015commentsShare

Americans produce a whopping 4.4 pounds of waste per person per day, more than any other nation in the world. Recycling facilities and landfills can’t seem to keep up. Hence the resurgence of a decades-old disposal idea: trash incinerators.

But today’s incinerators — including the country’s first commercial-scale incinerator in 20 years, about to be fired up in West Palm Beach, Fla. — are waste-to-energy plants, promising to turn garbage into electricity. The EPA classifies them as “renewable energy” and plans are unfolding in half a dozen states across the country.

Here’s the catch: They’re pretty damn dirty (emitting mercury and lead and dioxins, among other things) and expensive. A controversial incinerator proposal in Baltimore is now expected to cost $1 billion, though it’s still three years away from completion, and — of course! — slated to be built a low-income neighborhood in South Baltimore already plagued by a deluge of industry-associated health impacts. Reports the New York Times:

The problem is that Curtis Bay already hosts a 200-acre coal pier that produces black dust that collects on local streets and drifts inside windows, a fertilizer plant reeking of fresh manure, one of the nation’s largest medical waste incinerators, chemical plants, fuel depots, and an open-air composting site. […]

The proposed facility would be allowed to emit up to 240 pounds of mercury and 1,000 pounds of lead annually in a neighborhood with three schools and high rates of cancer and asthma.

In fact, in 2009, Curtis Bay was pegged as the second-most toxic zip code in the country. In 2013, the city of Baltimore had the highest emissions-related mortality rate in the nation. As Grist’s Brentin Mock pointed out in December 2013, and again last summer, students who would attend school less than a mile from the plant have been protesting, and with good reason:

[The facility] plans to comply with state and federal air pollution standards through offsets. Translation: The company will pay for air quality improvement somewhere else to make up for its dirty emissions in Baltimore.

Industry experts say that the failure of efforts to curb consumption, and recycle and compost, is to blame for the uptick in incinerator projects. Recycling programs have stalled nationwide and are starting to look too expensive; Ocean City, Md., has dropped recycling altogether for that very reason. For $1 billion, though, you’d think we could think of something.

Source:
Garbage Incinerators Make Comeback, Kindling Both Garbage and Debate

, New York Times.

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America sucks at recycling, so we’re burning trash again

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Thanks To Humans, Ocean Floor Is Now a Garbage Dump

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Thanks To Humans, Ocean Floor Is Now a Garbage Dump

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Barnacles are accidentally eating our plastic trash

Barnacles are accidentally eating our plastic trash

thaths

Gooseneck barnacles attached to a washed-up boot.

Barnacles in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are attaching themselves to trash and eating little plastic particles. Researchers don’t yet know the implications of these findings, but it’s a safe bet that they’re not good.

American scientists inspected the gastrointestinal tracts of 385 gooseneck barnacles collected from the garbage patch, aka the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, and found microplastic in a third of them. Some specimens had a single piece of plastic in their stomach, while others had gobbled down as many as 30. Results of this research were published Tuesday in the journal PeerJ.

Miriam Goldstein of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography described her research in the blog Deep Sea News:

Gooseneck barnacles look kind of freaky. Like acorn barnacles (the ones that more commonly grow on docks), they’re essentially a little shrimp living upside down in a shell and eating with their feet. Unlike acorn barnacles, gooseneck barnacles have a long, muscular stalk. …

[E]ventually I found myself in the lab dissecting barnacles in order to identify them. As I sat there, I thought “Well, I’m working on these barnacles anyway — wonder what they’re eating?” So I pulled out the intestine of the barnacle I was working on, cut it open, and a bright blue piece of plastic popped out. I reached into my jar o’ dead barnacles and dissected a few more, and found plastic in their guts as well.

Thinking about it logically, it makes a lot of sense that gooseneck barnacles are eating plastic. They are really hardy, able to live on nearly any floating surface from buoys to turtles, so they’re very common in the high-plastic areas of the gyre. They live right at the surface, where tiny pieces of buoyant plastic float. And they’re extremely non-picky eaters that will shove anything they can grab into their mouth.

Simon_Nathan

Gooseneck barnacles look freaky when they come out of their shells.

The barnacles are eaten by crabs, nudibranchs, and other marine creatures that are hunted, in turn, by birds, fish, and dolphins. Such plastic is known to block the digestive systems of these larger creatures, wreak havoc with their hormone levels, and damage their reproductive organs.

As Goldstein says, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to learn that barnacles are eating the ubiquitous plastic waste. One 2006 study estimated that at least 267 sea-faring species had been found to have ingested such trash.

Here’s what some of the plastic barnacle food looked like. Perhaps they mistook our garbage for Lucky Charms breakfast cereal. It’s hard to say which is worse for you, really:

PeerJBarnacle diet.


Source
Behind the scenes: plastic-eating barnacles in the North Pacific Gyre, Deep Sea News
Gooseneck barnacles (Lepas spp.) ingest microplastic debris in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, PeerJ

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: [email protected].

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Barnacles are accidentally eating our plastic trash

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New York’s Garbage Gets a Makeover

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New York’s Garbage Gets a Makeover

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11 Ways to Reduce Your Garbage

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11 Ways to Reduce Your Garbage

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Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System

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