Sunday, October 29, 2006

Introducing: Zero Waste Girl!

I've written a few posts about the zero emissions traveler - now I introduce another new hero, zero waste girl!

She has a name (Yolanda) and wears a few other capes besides waste crusader, (biker babe, graphic design guru) but for now, we're going to get close and personal with her garbage.

Yolanda is on a quest to produce as little trash as possible, and share her results with the world on film - the good, the bad, and the downright stinky. Her vision: to show people how they too can travel down the trash-lite path.....

She started this past Sunday at the farmers market - perfect location, as the market went "zero waste" this year. Participating food vendors have switched from sinister sytrofoam and plastic to biodegradable plates and utensils. Which is a tremendous start, now we just need to work on the copious quantities of plastic bags being used at the market - beautiful organic produce and petroleum plastics are NOT a good mix.

Well be checking in with Yolanda periodically, to hear how her experiment is progressing, what's inspiring her desire to purchase pet worms and carry her garbage around, and pick up some practical tips on low-waste living.

Like Orikaso, a reusable, foldable picnic set she used (below) to grab tamales at the market, eliminating the need for the (disposable) biodegradables altogether.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Haunted by ghost nets

Long before learning about plastics in the ocean, what first inspired an interest in marine issues was reading Song for the Blue Ocean by Carl Safina. An absolutely beautiful, poetic epic that illustrates just how much were losing from our seas.

Founder of the Blue Ocean Institute Safina recently wrote another oceanic hymn, Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur. And is currently at sea, studying leatherbacks and loggerheads, and preparing for an upcoming west coast book tour.

I've been reading Safina's voyage accounts, and recently asked if he'd been seeing much evidence of plastic waste at sea. A rhetorical question really, as we know its out there.....

"Lots of plastics evident in plankton tows near coasts, less farther offshore. This varies according to where current and convergences pile up the plastics. Laysan Island for instance, absolute mid-Pacific, is loaded w/ plastics."

Photos from his recent trip show a ghost net with billfish bones hundreds of miles from land. Ghost nets - fishing line "abandonded" at sea - can float for months, entangling and strangling all sorts of marine life. Gives me an idea for a very scary halloween costume.

Carl Safina will be speaking here in LA on November 7th, at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach! Details and RSVP info on the website, wanna join me?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Plastics and the small penis effect

Apologies for the shock value, but talk about an issue hitting where it hurts.....

Yet another reason to eschew plastic products: they just might damage your child's potential manhood.

Exposure to phthalates, an additive used in many plastics and personal care products, has been linked to abnormalities in childrens' reproductive development, including smaller penis size.

Granted, the world is overpopulated - we certainly don't need more casanovas, BUT.......

Good news: there are safer alternatives, you just need to know what to look for. Start with avoiding the # 3 or letter V on the so-called recycling symbol on the bottom of plastic products.

And check out this entertaining little short, "Sam Suds the case of PVC - The Poison Plastic". Even phlalates can be phunny.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Plastic Bags in Outer Space

Really, its true. This happened a while back, caught my interest again.....Plastic waste has now been spotted floating in space.

Astronauts on Space Shuttle Atlantis spotted a "mystery object" lurking near the ship, raising alarm that it might interfere with a safe return. And delayed their earth-coming a couple days to conduct thorough investigations of said object.

Which was likely a small piece of plastic, and "deemed non-threatening". THEN, a second object was spotted - you guessed it, the ubiquitous plastic bag.

On another, even more concerning note, studies by the US space agency showed that Earth's rapid warming has pushed temperatures to their hottest level in nearly 12,000 years and within a hairbreadth of a million years. Smokin'.