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How “even” Beach Cleanups make A difference

Look at the difference these projects have made in such little amount of time. When you say “it’s just a beach cleanup, everything will be back again tomorrow” Remember these…
Also think about how much awareness is raised from these activities?
4Ocean – 2 years, 600 tons, $20/lb. These guys are amazing. In less than 2 years already removed 1.4million pounds of trash from the oceans. That’s 600 tons.
Mr. Trashwheel – 4 years, 1000 tons, ~$40/lb. Since 2014 – removed almost 1000 tons from just the Baltimore Harbor. It’s changed the face (and the smell) of Baltimore. Cost is ~ $250K the first year and then ~ $120K for maintenance every year after that including the infrastructure to remove and process the waste collected. This cost then could be higher or lower, depending on the infrastructure that might be available. How awesome would it be to see this type of investment in the Hudson, in a few different areas?
Here’s a single person who initiated the largest cleanup on the planet and cleaned up over 11million pounds!
96 months, 5500 tons, $priceless. In India’s Versova beach clean-up Shah started up the cleanup, nobody got paid, they all volunteered their time and 5500 tons were removed in 96 months!
And for the first time in 20 years the Oliver Ridley turtles came back to the beach, laid eggs and hatched and 80 of them headed back into the wonderful ocean! As if thanking these wonderful people and celebrating collaboration and humans!
These are just Top 3 specific cleanups that have been successful at causing waves in the mainstream media.
There is also the Ocean Conservancy annual cleanup. In 2017, across the globe in one day, they removed 10,000 tons of trash. One of the most eye opening and impressive statistic for Ocean Conservancy is how in one day over 780,000 people come together for just the one cause and remove 10,000 TONS, nearly 10,000,000kgs of trash from our ocean.
When we arent out to make a name, a profit, or whatever for ourselves, but are seriously working for the good of the planet – being human is then just AWESOME.
#wereallinthistogether
Photo Credit: Hindustan Times via Coastwatch KZN

The Ocean Cleanup Launched!

The Ocean Cleanup launched it’s very first vessel to the Great Pacific Gyre on September 8, 2018 as a test. And I was there as a witness. The best part of it was to see all the people who were specifically there at the San Franciso waterfront across the entire city just to watch this amazing feat!
We’ve all heard by now – lots of skepticism around the ambitious undertaking for cleaning up the world’s largest garbage patch. I won’t reiterate but you can click through these links and read much of the naysayers.
The world needs change. And this project is such a BIG change that even those of us calling for the very change are reluctant to take a stand behind it.
It’s time we all collaborate – NO this is NOT the solution.
The world needs to collaborate. One way to stop all the damage we’ve been causing out there is to communicate with and support each other. This project is not the end all – even Boyan Slat – isn’t saying it is. In his response to a specific weak criticism – he clearly states it. It’s just the naysayers saying this is not the solution. Boyan agrees with you. This is not THE solution – and it’s a necessary part of it.
There needs to be a change in the way we think about our consumption habits to our plastics addiction to the way we handle our waste. To show their support and belief in this full ecosystem The Ocean Clean-up Project partners with organizations and companies who focus in these various areas.
Every single solution that is out there is needed. It was surprising to me to read a criticism on Boyan’s ambition to go out to the great pacific patch. Instead, the critic demanded, he should focus more on coast lines – like the wonderful Mr. TrashWheel is doing in Baltimore. Since May 2014 they’ve removed 900 tons of waste from the enclosed Baltimore Canal – what used to be the ugliest sight is now a very pleasant walk. A doubtless victory. It’s not like Mr. TrashWheel didn’t start up with it’s own similar skeptics at the time though. Fast forward a few challenging years and they showed that this is a great undertaking for any coastline – absolutely. It takes nearly half a million dollars to start and maintain that little machine + added costs and improvements on the waste management infrastructure that most cities in the US don’t even want to consider. For 900 tons in 4 years with an average of about $150K+ annual cost (in addition to the previously mentioned setup cost). And to be clear – YES it is worth it, no question about it.  Still the same threats and challenges – removing microorganisms, endangering turtles, expensive equipment, requiring changes in systems that aren’t even there yet, etc. They’ve found ways to handle and work through these challenges.
Take also beach-cleanups. Most skeptics are also against them. One major criticism is: They are too small, they are not the solution, we need to stop the plastics from going in in the first place. We’re all in agreement.
And here – these awesome people have made a HUGE dent removing over 1.1Million tons of trash in less than 2 years. Here’s a single person who initiated the largest cleanup on the planet and cleaned up over 11million pounds! And those plastics now are no longer a threat to the ocean.
They are also needed and it DOES make a difference to many of the people who live along the coastlines.
One other criticism is that this will be a distraction from actually reducing the consumption and generation of plastics in the first place. We need people to tackle all of it – divide and conquer. Work together with the Ocean Cleanup Project so they continue to highlight the importance of having to reduce the waste generation. They are expecting to be part of the conversations.
There is great value in constructive criticism. It’s the cynicism, sarcasm, negative press, and attacks – that can be channeled to other places. Places when even there is money and opportunity the changes aren’t made. Where corporations greedily continue to pump out plastics as a necessity, and consumers defend them. Where governments and cities don’t follow up on their promises. Where businesses work to convince people a small change in eliminating plastics is going to take upwards of 3-5 years. Where past legislations and laws aren’t enforced. Where commitments aren’t measured and communicated. These kinds of places call for all kinds of cynicism – then again – with a purpose of working together to solve rather than attacking the other. Coca-Cola, Starbucks, McDonalds’ aren’t going away. People’s demand for convenience isn’t either. How do we bring given factors like these together and create an infrastructure where no product in any part of it’s lifecycle is a threat to the environment, BEFORE it’s past the point of no return? How do we hold governments, companies, businesses, consumers accountable?
Visionaries like Boyan are the ones to wake us up. Work together and collaborate! If you have a better idea to tackle the garbage patch while getting the attention AND support of all these known polluters – let him know – he’s listening.
One of the best parts of this Ocean Cleanup Project – is the publicity and PR it’s generating in circles that normally wouldn’t even consider the topic. Look at his major sponsors – a shipping company, a company from the chemicals industry, dredging experts, plastic manufacturers. SO many vastly different people coming together agreeing that this problem requires a solution.
We have to work on every part of the problem. I think the undertaking is extremely ambitious. As was the Electric car with Musk. I also think there will be multiple iterations, and I think there is a difference between saying “that’s stupid it’s gonna <insert criticism of your choice>” versus “that’s an approach we haven’t tried yet, let’s see how we can account for <insert criticism of your choice>  with this type of technology.”
The vision for our wonderful planet is changing. Now we need to adjust our tones and mindsets while we remember we’re all in this together. Good luck to us all!

Persistence is what we need

I get many questions about whether I think what I do is enough to make a difference in the world. My clear answer to that is NO. Obviously, just my reusable bags, mugs, cups, utensils and everything else is not going to change the world. And I genuinely believe it is the right direction. The more people live this way, the more it will make a difference and cause the change we and our planet needs. It will not happen overnight, though it will happen.
The problem
Recycling isn’t the answer. That might sound interesting coming from me, who’s trying to get everybody to recycle anything and everything that touches their hands, especially if it has plastics in it.
There are plenty of articles out there, and experienced conservationists worried about people “feeling good about themselves” because they recycle and choose to buy from more eco-conscious companies. Sometimes awareness of recycling causes people to justify higher consumption. (I recycle anyway). Still, recycling isn’t the best solution.
This does NOT mean do NOT recycle. Recycling is necessary. It is not the answer.
It also does NOT mean go on and buy Coca-Cola, DuPont, 3M, Nestle, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, etc. products.
And most importantly, it also does NOT mean go ahead and use everything freely and abundantly since you’re able to recycle and buy from eco-conscious companies. Buying a plastic item that is made of recycled ocean plastics is still buying a plastic item. The key question to ask is what do you do with it after it’s been used?
Breakaway from Consumerism
The point is we are a consumerist society. The actual problem is not going to be resolved until people stop with the idea that every single person in their household “needs” a certain gadget – instead of first looking at ways to share (i.e TVs for instance). It’s not going to change as long as people think that it is their “right” to get bottled water from the corner store, since they are thirsty and didn’t bring a reusable bottle. Or that they can request a plastic fork and spoon to use for less than 10mins. It doesn’t mean that businesses can get away with “we have to be profitable to stay in business” without thinking about what the true cost of that profit really is.
We all need to act intelligently. Truly, intelligent. Humanely intelligent.
Fast fashion? It’s the most harmful and expensive thing that has probably hit humanity since single use items like straws, lids, cups etc. And also, perhaps especially, coffee pods.
We’ve seen how harmful single use straws, bottles and cups are why do we keep using the single use coffee pods?
The power of change and the magnitude comes when we are relentless, when we actually “make” the change visible. When we actually decline a ’way of living” from it’s roots.
What can you do?
Keep doing what you’re doing with recycling and avoiding single use plastics. It really DOES make a difference. It’s not as big a difference as we need at the moment, but it is a difference.
Meanwhile, keep writing to your governors and senators, keep bringing this up to your shop owners. Strive to grow your action and pledge not to get comfortable with “just” what you have accomplished so far. We need to strive for more in this one, the one where less is more. Our call is for persistence, relentless persistence in this road less traveled.
It is a big undertaking, it’s the type of change that truly needs to start from the people. Us awaiting that the businesses, corporations and governments are finally going to do the right thing is not happening. It hasn’t happened. It will NOT happen. The industry feeds and incentivizes them too seriously for them to turn around and say it makes ‘business sense’. It’s a concept I believe has brought a lot of good things to our Earth, enabled much for our kind and at the same time harmed each of us and our planet to the core. The fastest way for this type of change will make true business sense is if it’s driven by the consumers. You stop buying what you’re buying TODAY and see how quickly they get removed from the shelves and replaced with what YOU do buy. Things that are readily and easily recyclable, things that you truly need not impulse buys and things that are made sustainably.

Snapple

The times are changing. Daily we see news about some plastic ban, environmental decision, beach clean-ups, switches to more sustainable products, etc. We’re working to transform the way humanity approaches business and consumer decisions.
Transform how consumers act and freely choose the products they want to buy. We’re calling for big companies like Coca-Cola to stop providing plastic bottles – since for the majority of the communities who buy the products there are no recycling, and even waste management solutions. The bottles end up in our waterways and in our oceans. Through poisoning the very thing that gives us life — water, we poison ourselves and our future generations.
As many communities start announcing they will be switching to glass bottle return services, banning plastic cups and packaging, some businesses seem to be going the opposite direction.
Snapple. A company that has been doing a lot of good on the planet and in NYC via funding school programs and scholarships. They invest in the Closed Loop Fund. They recycle about 85% of their manufacturing waste – a huge feat in the industry known to produce waste in the thousands of tons. They provide healthier options to students, and adults, promoting low sugar and more natural choices in glass bottles with aluminum caps. 100% recyclable. 2017 – Snapple decides to go in an archaic direction – use plastic bottles rather than glass. Plastic has been proven to leach toxins into juices and drinks that it holds. How much of an economic benefit do plastic bottles pose for the company? And, why did the company decide to make the change now?
One of the major things that Snapple recently started investing in is the Closed Loop Fund – dedicated $5 million over a 10 year contribution to it starting in 2017. Snapple Dr.Pepper is already a producer of millions of bottles a year through their brands like Dr. Pepper, 7Up, A&W RootBeer etc. Investing into a closed loop system in plastics should not mean to wash away from an already in practice better alternative: glass bottles.
Aside from $$ savings of a few cents per bottle – a SpecialChem article indicates only marginal additional benefits for the company to switch to plastics:
– Plastic weighs a pound less than a case of glass bottles (yes 1 pound)
– Plastic bottles can be made in house at Snapple from a pellet rather than the glass bottles that are manufactured elsewhere and shipped to Snapple, saving them some more $$ on operational costs.
One argument I saw FOR the plastic bottles was around the “ease” of recycling plastic vs. glass? If we look at the processes end to end there is no ease in recycling plastic. Plastic is never recycled back to it’s original quality and plastic NEVER biodegrades. Plastic is toxic to everything it touches and to every creature that eats it. Glass on the other hand is never “lost” – it never loses it’s quality through the recycling process. If glass makes it’s way into the ocean, it disintegrates until it turns back into sand. It has no toxic effects to the environment. If the point is about saving on weight and making sure that the recycling is easier then the obvious choice should be aluminum rather than glass – it has the highest recycling rate, the lowest recycling cost and the lowest weight.
Every plastic that has ever been produced still exists on the planet. In our oceans. In our food. In our drinking water. How can saving a pound from the shipping weight actually outweigh the amount of harm done? Does their “business sense” really overpower your kids’ health and the future of our only Earth?
Your voice matters. Our voice matters – it’s time for us to make sure that the manufacturers understand that we get it too. It’s not all about their profits, it’s about the future of our children and the planet.
Sign this petition here to urge Snapple to go back to Glass bottles. And MOST importantly, do not buy single use plastic bottles for any of the manufacturers. They are bad for YOU and the environment. And still more important if you do for some reason buy them, please PLEASE be sure to recycle and recycle properly.
#wereallinthistogether #bethechange

It’s us

So many people are talking about the hurricanes, earthquakes and human threats that are flooding our news again these last couple of weeks. Irma, Jose, Maria and others forming in the Atlantic already and it’s not even October yet, we say. Two earthquakes to hit Mexico City in less than 2 months – a place we hadn’t heard about earthquakes in decades!

"Recyclable"

What do you think when you see this word on a product?
Most of us who are not involved in the manufacturing process, hold a PhD. in Plastics or work in recycling can find this term confusing or just plain misleading.
We are naive when we think “recyclable” means that the item can be recycled when you place it into a common recycling bin. Sometimes it might mean that, but in reality it’s unlikely.

The simple 101 of Plastics Recycling

Is everything plastic recyclable?
That magical thing that happens once you throw that plastic bottle, cup, cap, lid, spoon, etc isn’t as magical as you might think. I’ve been researching this for the last year, and at every turn I’ve found so many things that we’ve been misinformed about.
The recycling facilities do not accept everything for recycling.
Compared to all that we consume, what the recycling facilities accept are too limited.
The challenges are in educating people about types of plastics out there, what can be recycled and how, and what can’t be recycled at all. And this changes from one municipality to another since recycling is tied to Cities.

Alternatives to Coffee Pods

We can work to be as gracious to Mother Nature as she is to us
I’ve had an issue with the single use coffee pods for a long time now. Whether it’s Keurig or Nespresso or some other brand, these coffee cups are just not healthy for us or the environment.
This is as simple an issue for me – it’s harmful to everything around, so much so that even the inventor is sorry he ever gave his idea to the companies. If you still want to continue doing so, that’s fine, but the harmful and expensive habit should be heavily taxed and it’s use banned in public places, just as in Hamburg, to protect people and our earth from the harm.

Keeping your Teeth and the Environment Healthy at the same time

Well yes, a single toothbrush isn’t going to save the earth. But a single one is going to kill multiple seabirds and marine mammals. And a million of them is going to harm the oceans as a whole.
Imagine that dentists tell everybody to change their toothbrushes every 3 months – that’s 4 toothbrushes a year per person! Where this claim of having to change your toothbrush every 3 months comes from, is an entire other discussion for me. (Industry!) Say that only half the people in the US alone brush their teeth every day and do this. That’s 150million x 4 = 600 million toothbrushes a year from the US alone. Then you can stretch this to other Western countries, developed Asian countries and populations etc.

Earth and Us

Here’s a different type of post. Something I’ve been thinking about for a very long time…
Reflecting on us vs. our planet.  We watch what we eat, we take breaks and go to vacations, we give ourselves breaks and attend shows and concerts. We do what we can to keep our heads clear, to keep our bodies clean and clear.