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Ban The Bag Portland

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:00 pm
by Lil' Snowy Plover
Hi all, as many of you know I've pretty much focused my life at this point on attempting the mammoth goal of reducing the amount of plastic in our environment by advocacy, policy, and spreading awareness through expedition documentation with the NGO, 5 About two years ago, I had the chance as a journalist sail across the North Atlantic (with the help of cash donations from some folks who post on the board) and after seeing what I saw out there, thousands miles from land: toothbrushes, laundry baskets, tampon applicators, syringes, shotgun shells, rollerblade wheels, I quit my job and devoted my work and pretty much my life to fighting oceanic plastic pollution. Since then, I've sailed over 20,000 miles in three gyres, seeing plastic in the South Atlantic and The South Pacific Gyres as well. It's been an amazing, and heart wrenching journey all in one.

Here's what I know--- on every beach, everywhere in the world ever sampled, plastic is there. All the continents.
It collects in all major subtropical oceanic gyres.
No one knows how much is out there, but the best we can do to estimate is about 20,000 pieces per square kilometer of ocean surface, conservatively weighing about .5 grams each. There are 315 million square kilometers of ocean surface on planet earth.
Plastic does not biodegrade, it photodegrades, the polymer chains of hydrocarbons are broken by sunlight, but the actual hydrocarbon molecule persists for as long as its chemical half life allows--- which is more time than either you or I can imagine.
Plastic works like a sponge for persistent organic pollutants like Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons, DDT, flame retardants, PCBs, you name it-- it absorbs these chemicals because its a fat based, and these chemicals don't mix with water, but love fats.
Fish eat plastic-- in a very recent study conducted by Scripps in the North Pacific, 9% of mesopelagic fish (aka those that go deep and then come up at night to feed in the epipelagic zone) had ingested plastics. Scripps estimates that these types of base food chain fishes eat between 12k and 24k tons of plastic per year in the North Pacific.
Those chemicals bioaccumulate in their bodies and as predators eat them, and then, and then, these toxins biomagnify up the food chain. The apex predator of that chain is us.
Plastic bags are made of Polyethylene and this, along with Polyproplyne are the two most common types of plastic in the gyres.

I started working on plastic pollution as a volunteer for Surfrider, starting the Ban The Bag campaign in Oregon some four years ago which ultimately was unsuccessful on the state level. Industry has successfully stymied the campaign by saying all that's needed is more recycling. Recycling of plastic actually creates more plastic in the world, not less because 70% virgin content needs to be added to a bag to make a new bag. This is why industry favors this approach, it guarantees metric increases in market share. Making other things out of plastic, even durable goods, just means make a second generation destined for a landfill or the ocean or somewhere in between. It's not the answer.

Next Thursday, at 3pm at Portland City Hall, we are going to ban the bag in Portland. I need your support. I need you to show up and voice your support for the ocean. Regardless of your feelings about politics or politicians championing this cause, I need your help. Portland sits on one of the top five watersheds in the world, The Columbia. What you see in the streets, in the air and on the side of river is gyre bound. We've been using this crap for only about 60 years widespread. When I was kid or when Gaz was a kid there was no plastic on the beach. That is not true now. Now and forever.

Please come and help us pack council chambers. This is about you and me and our quality of life as surfers, and lovers of the ocean. Thanks.

Re: Ban The Bag Portland

PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:51 pm
by SooLoo
I hope for a huge turn out for the cause and I am sure there will be a full house. I have also been loosely following your travels for a while and because of your reporting I have changed some habits of mine that were not so eco-friendly.

No more tampons for this guy, for the last couple of years I just cram cotton or old socks up there to staunch the flow. I have givin up roller blading, who effing knew about the wheels ending up floating forever right? I no longer do laundry or scrub the chicklets and since the osp intervention, I have givin up slamming dope so I no longer need the shotgun or it's polluting shells to make me feel safe during a ten day run.

Thanks Plover

Re: Ban The Bag Portland

PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:07 pm
by Lil' Snowy Plover
Sooloo, I'd really like to watch you rollerblade with a sock stuffed up your vaheena.

Re: Ban The Bag Portland

PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:00 pm
by SooLoo
Nice work man congrats

Re: Ban The Bag Portland

PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:26 pm
by Spider
woohoo! done.

Re: Ban The Bag Portland

PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 4:29 pm
by qball
thank you for banning the grocery plastic bag. I will now buy plastic bags for dog poop, soiled kids clothes and travel snacks rather than recycling the ones I got for free. There's still paper sacks, which multiple studies show have an equal cost on the environment. I suppose I could change my habits, and buy reusable bags for groceries. Oh, wait, I do that already but I just don't always have them with me since not all my trips to the store are made in the family car.

Re: Ban The Bag Portland

PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 4:10 pm
by Lil' Snowy Plover
Rates for recycling of HDPE is less than 1% of consumption. Even though you put them in the bin at the store, most of them go to a landfill. ALL Oregon recyclers were onboard with the ban because they can't find a market for HDPE. Try wax paper for dog poop-- but it's best to not hermetically seal organic material and then place it in an anaerobic environment, like a landfill where it will become the dinosaur bones of the future. Try dry bags for snacks (Pacific Outdoor Equipment makes good reusable stuff) and small dry bags for soiled clothes.

Don't really understand how someone can be a surfer, presumably with a respect for the ocean, and not be behind limiting the amount of synthetics that get in the ocean. 46k half grams of plastic per square kilometer, based on North Atlantic data. Times that by 315 million square kilometers of ocean and you get an idea of how big the problem is. I guarantee if you looked into this, you'd probably sing a different tune. Do you really think Dow Chemical is on your side? hhhmmm.

Re: Ban The Bag Portland

PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:41 pm
by Doc
What about plasticized bags that are designed to decompose?
Like corn starch...
Just gnarly to be toting around feces unless it's got a reasonably good barrier...
If there isn't an alternative like this people will just use plastic bags...
No amount of shaming them with...
"How can you be a surfer and not use a paper bag?" will work.


Re: Ban The Bag Portland

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 3:34 pm
by Lil' Snowy Plover
Corn bags-- or PLA will biodegrade in 130 degrees F with oxygen. It's not not shame doc, it's survival-- but y'all can do what you want, yo. But I make a living proving the statements that begin with, 'people won't' wrong.