By now most of us have read that plastic, that incredibly useful product that all of us use every day, is fast becoming public enemy number one. We have been using plastics for decades and as a result, plastic is everywhere: in our fish, in our food, in our oceans, in our waste water treatment systems, and in our public spaces. We use plastics in every part of our lives, from single use plastics, such as bags, bottles, and straws, to our babies’ toys to our nylon clothes to our paint. Plastic particles and plastic microbeads are used in our shampoo, toothpaste, soap, and millions of oth
Plastics, anthropomorphically induced climate change, overdosing ourselves and our food with antibiotics, nuclear weapons, etc. all conspire toward one result: peak humanity (and perhaps recognizable life an earth). Will mankind grab hold of the humility required to reduce its footprint to a carrying capacity acceptable to Pacha Mama? Not if the current economic paradigm continues. Until the decision making processes are steeped with acknowledgment of planetary limits the quality of all life on earth will suffer. Some may suffer in ignorance in their McMansions, but their progeny will “get it” sooner or later. The issue is a moral one. No sky fairy is going to intercede. Humanity has to humble itself before the planet as so many great indigenous cultures did. Population control and consumption control are both required to succeed. Satisfaction from within must conquer satisfaction from without (consumption-based identity).
Breaking coverage from the Onion:
EPA Rolls Back Emissions Standards To Increase Consumer Choice Over Type Of Apocalyptic Hellscape Earth Will Become
AND!! from other reliable sources… reuters
VW storing around 300,000 diesels at 37 facilities around U.S.
and we all remember the fraud perpetrated there by the infallible industrial king
Well of course ya gotta pull back on reglations ta ged outta tha way of the artificially ginned tsunamy sos it becomes da new normal
The detritus of a civilization made of oil, expanded beyond the carrying capacity of the planet makes a midden pile of the oceans.
I dropped to the bottom years ago - initially not by choice but by complete collapse. Scrambled by the vociferous competition, the dissociative pathologies of ‘get ahead’ and the truly bizarre premise of ‘vacating’ when enough of your life has been extracted for predatory profit, I just snapped and lost any capacity to engage at that level.
Today, community volunteer; all food purchases at local co-op with dietary shaping by local producers many of whom are young folks; furniture and all else bought at community non-profits second hand stores that recycle those resources back into the community. Folks I engage with are a self-selected group loving community and seeing from that perspective. The beauty is danged healthy.
And on top of this, those now in control of our Regulatory Agencies and those who control all legislation at the Federal level, as well as most State Legislatures…simply don’t care.
As long as the Corporate Lobbyists are happy; as long as the Koch bothers are happy; as long as Wall Streeet is happy…they simply do not care:. Not about our health. Not about the environment. Not about the biosphere, Not about science. Not about future generations. Not about really anything but power and profits.
Our “leaders” are mostly Sociopaths.
Plastics are insidious.
Yesterday, I was talking with a younger co-worker about all the common things that plastics replaced that worked perfectly fine that have been replaced with plastic - soda-straws were made of paper. Milk and juice containers were waxed paper. Snack food and grocery bags - paper. Pop and beer, and milk from the milkman, (and IV fluids in hospitals) were in glass containers that were returned for a 3-cent deposit, then washed and refilled, over and over again. Everything else was in easily recyclable steel and aluminum cans.
And don’t let those PR campaign of recycling plastic (now gone - many local governments will be ending recyclable pickup in a few years in my area) fool you. At very best, maybe 15 percent of it gets reused in stuff like polyester carpeting or those planks for picnic and playground furniture - and then to the landfill, and ultimately to the sea, when it is discarded.
And, as I’m learning from living in fracking country, the nexus of all this plastic forced upon us is big petroleum. The reason those grocery clerks are encouraged to use all those plastic bags for just a few items and give you a dirty look when you bring your own reusable bag is that Shell and Range Resources want to drill and frack more oil and gas wells.
And the stuff never decomposes, only breaks down to tiny plastic bits - and and even when disposed in a landfill will ultimately be unearthed by erosion and wash to the sea.
Please consider this summary of a plastic regulation law and then begin an initiative for your town or county.
Here is quite a bit of what people are doing summarized into one law example that has been signed off by several attorneys general.
Yunzer, I’ve read quite a few of your comments and I tend to agree across the board. I too am an engineer (civil) and find many of your posts quite interesting. I too am required by my employer to undertake projects that I do not personally like being involved with. You see, I live in the Texas Hill Country, a beautiful place with blue water limestone swimming holes, caves, and rare life forms. Anyway, with your post above you kind of stole my thunder.
Like you I grew up in the late fifties and early sixties. We had the milkman who delivered our milk in gallon glass bottles with paper stoppers which when we used up the milk we simply put the empty bottles back into the box, the milkman would take them and replace them with full ones. The used bottles were washed and reused again. My mother was a nurse beginning in 1952, Medical supplies were ALL reusable, from hypodermic needles and syringes to IV bottles to surgical instruments. Once they were used they were placed in a device known as an autoclave and sterilized for reuse. As an elementary school student, I got my milk in cardboard cartons, our lunches were served on washable trays with real silverware. Our groceries came in paper bags and plastics were few and far apart. The thought of BUYING water was a joke. Who the fuck would buy water??? Well, now water is more expensive than gasoline and comes in one use plastic bottles. Groceries are bagged in single use plastic bags, sodas come in one use plastic bottles, milk comes in one use jugs (they are good for jug lines if you like to fish for catfish but nothing else), frozen meals come in one use plastic packages, all medical equipment such as IV bags, tubling, masks, scrubs worn by medical staff, syringes for injections (and the needles by the way which are still made of steel but discarded with everything else just to reappear on beaches and such), and even many of the medications themselves are made from plastic or a product molecularly close such as margarine, most auto parts, fuck…plastic is everything but it doesn’t decompose, plus it’s made from petroleum.
I don’t know how many readers have seen the photographs of the plastic islands that are forming where ocean currents converge but they are phenomenal. In the Pacific, in addition to the radioactive contamination from Fukushima (gee don’t hear much about that anymore in spite of the fact that it’s still dumping thousands of gallons of radioactive water into the Pacific daily do we) there is an island of plastic trash twice the size of the State of Texas and thick enough to walk on. Similar islands are forming in the South Pacific, Caribbean Sea, Indian Ocean, and other areas where sea currents converge.
Look, I know I’m getting really long winded but this is absolute bullshit! There is no reason for this to be happening other than for convenience on behalf of the consumer and money on behalf of the corporations. You do know that those plastic bottles your drinking water comes in aren’t free right? Look, there are so many alternatives that people can use to stop their use of plastic shit it’s unbelievable. Buy a filter for your tap in the kitchen ($15 max) then use your stainless steel mug that keeps drinks cold forever to use for your drinking water. You will save a fortune plus contribute zero plastic bottles. Use aluminum foil or better yet wax paper or sticky wrap in lieu of plastic wrap, ask for paper bags or better yet take your own grocery shopping. We just cannot continue our use of throw away plastics or we are going to choke everything on the planet out with plastic trash. All the plastic floating around in the oceans could probably replace half of the fossil fuels we burn in our cars every year. It’s just such a waste of resources, but the corporations don’t seem to mind one bit seeing as how YOU are paying for it.
Yeah. They do a lot of things that we don’t know about, except for the rare whistleblower.
I remember hearing snide and derisive remarks from fellow students when we learned of the naive Romans who poisoned themselves with their lead plumbing, thus having their own “civilized” lifestyle contribute to the downfall of their civilization. Now we’re doing the same…
Great posts, both of you!. Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom. Perhaps there’s a use for us aging people after all - recalling and re-using great old ideas.
Why does an international treaty on plastics need to be a whole decade away?!
The photos you’ve seen are probably the debris field washout from the Fukushima tsunami. Out in the central Pacific, the plastic is very diffuse, mostly just enough to cloud the water with some scattered larger pieces. The total mass is estimated to be around 100,000 tons, which is actually less than the plastic than we recycle in a month in the U.S. Fukushima debris might account for as much as 20% of it.
“in addition to the radioactive contamination from Fukushima (gee don’t hear much about that anymore in spite of the fact that it’s still dumping thousands of gallons of radioactive water into the Pacific daily do we)”
A thousand gallons is just a few cubic meters–nothing compared to the volume of the Pacific. And though that may be the current flow rate (I haven’t seen any recent estimates), what matters isn’t how much of that is composed of water, but how much of it is composed of radioisotopes, and that’s probably a very small fraction of a gram, hardly even detectable outside Fukushima harbor. The dominant source of ongoing Fukushima contamination into the Pacific is now in runoff and river sediments from surrounding lands, but most of that is bound in the sediments and doesn’t travel very far. All current sources combined are not enough to offset the amount of the original release material which is disappearing due to decay, so the net amount in the ocean continues to decline. And even at its worst, it was negligible compared to natural sources of radiation out in the greater Pacific.
“Look, there are so many alternatives that people can use to stop their use of plastic shit it’s unbelievable. Buy a filter for your tap in the kitchen ($15 max) then use your stainless steel mug that keeps drinks cold forever to use for your drinking water. You will save a fortune plus contribute zero plastic bottles.”
Or reuse your plastic jugs and bottles. I easily get a year’s worth of use from a plastic milk jug for holding filtered water (back in the days of glass milk bottles, they had an average life expectancy of around 20-25 uses before they broke or became too chipped to reuse, and glass-strewn streets were a lot more common when glass was the dominant beverage container material). Milk jugs can also be cut up, or reshaped with a heat gun, or welded with a soldering iron for a variety of other uses. I also load my ATV trailer with milk jugs full of water when I need water in a remote location, and I can carry nearly 400 lbs. of water that way with no sloshing. Much cheaper than getting a dedicated tanker trailer.
“Use aluminum foil or better yet wax paper or sticky wrap in lieu of plastic wrap, ask for paper bags or better yet take your own grocery shopping.”
I use cloth bags (tough synthetic fabric), but plastic shopping bags recycle well (you probably have H.E.B’s in your area, and most of them have plastic bag recycling bins in front of the store), and I save and use the fresh produce bags instead of using plastic wrap, and then drop them in the recycle bin too when I’m done with them.
“All the plastic floating around in the oceans could probably replace half of the fossil fuels we burn in our cars every year.”
Even if you could convert 100,000 tons of plastic into 100,000 tons of fuel, that would be less than a tenth of the amount of liquid fossil fuels we consume in the U.S. in an average day. (roughly 1.3 million tons)
“It’s just such a waste of resources,”
The plastic itself was not wasted. Almost all of it served out its design life, and recycling a lot of it would not have reached break-even against virgin materials. The real waste is going to be the energy and resources that will have to go into collecting it and pulling it back out of the oceans. It would have saved a lot more than the resource content of the plastic itself if it had just been adequately kept out of the oceans in the first place.
One bright spot, at least, is that, thanks to some ingenuity, it looks like gathering it up in the ocean is not going to be as resource and energy intensive as it looked like it would be ten years ago. The Ocean Cleanup is going to be launching their first collection float pretty soon (itself made of plastic), and I’m keen to see how well that does.
The thing is: they suffer also- they just think they are immune which shows once again how ignorant they are. I would like to say this: As long as people will think about “future generations” rather than just the present, we will continue to have a population problem.
I remember drinking water right from the tap- I have to remember who “invented” a way to profit off of a natural resource by bottling it into plastic.
Never got a dirty look from a clerk for that. In fact where we shop they do not use bags at all- one just takes the groceries in a cart and packs them into a vehicle. No bags or boxes unless someone insists on bringing one. As far as a clerk giving a dirty look for less labor- that does not make sense at all. What a world. I do remember the paper and glass. Let’s remember though - I hate plastic also, but all that paper came from felled trees.