Imagine swimming in the Pacific Ocean and realizing you are surrounded by an island of plastic. Not plastic bags and bottles, but this island is made up of billions of plastic particles only visible when you're floating in it. Serious? Very.
I discovered a place called the Pacific Gyre, an area where ocean currents carry our lovely plastic bottles and bags to mill around, be ingested by ocean organisms, and enter the food chain. It takes a year for garbage from Asia to reach this area and five years from the west coast of North America. Don't you just want to paddle your kayak out there and follow the flow to see where it goes?
We humans are using about 200 billion pounds of plastic per year! Can you even imagine?
This is 90% of the trash floating in the world's oceans. In every square mile of ocean float some 50,000 pieces of plastic, which I've seen catch in the gullet or breathing hole of sea turtles and dolphins. And even so, far more invasive is the breakdown by sun and sand of this immense quantity of plastic into tiny particles that are now permeating our food chain.
Guess where the majority of this plastic comes from? You guessed it! Those nasty little plastic water bottles that most of the modern world so blithely drinks from and tosses, along with plastic bags, bottle caps and Styrofoam. Think about this next time you even consider buying plastic bottles of water. I discovered a wonderful site that seems to track this and many other pertinent and interesting topics.
I've begun to make the effort to consider every time I might use plastic, whether it's something we can get along without. In the long run this is something that dramatically affects our health. Plastics along with pesticides mimic estrogen, which means we completely throw off our hormone balance with chronic plastic exposure. The danger for men is this increases pseudo-feminine hormone levels, and for all of us excess estrogen-like substances pose a potential risk for cancer.
Philosophers of old tell of the "dog that turns to it's own vomit." I know it's an awful image. During my many years of holistic health practice, the single most permeating principle about how to "be well," addresses detoxing, cleansing the cells and organs of old waste so the body can accomplish it's amazing life process uninhibited.
Here we are standing knee deep or thigh deep in amazing amounts of waste we've produced as a civilization (good 'ol fossil fuels), plastic bags, plastic water bottles. I hope there are some magical microorganisms out there to gobble up some of this stuff (I hear about them now and then but don't know much). I encourage all of us to figure out how to go beyond packaging in our lives.
We're on a big trash reduction program at our house. Always a goal to see how LITTLE TRASH we can produce. Not much goes to waste. The horses and little chippies eat our compost before it can get to the garden (we live in the dry and somewhat barren southwest). We are very aware of buying bulk, picking fresh, buying from neighbors who produce food. And certainly we're not perfect. We're all here in the midst of this making the changes we can yet still participating.
I remember studying in Permaculture how our towns and cities should be shaped like amoebas, with gardens and farms dipping into urban areas, forming hubs with outdoor marketplaces. Oh yes and here we all are carrying our baskets, loading them with fresh food, no plastic bag or wrap, walking, riding bicycles. Or we go to our backyard and carry in a cloth bag or basket of fresh goods... chicken eggs from the neighbors...
Think about this next time someone offers you one of those little bottles of water, and make a better choice. Make it a rule not to get a cup of coffee unless you have your own cup. We have a long ways to go kids - but we can get there - if every day every one of us who is aware makes the right choices. We got a lotta cleanup to do. It begins with what goes in our trash can at home. Reuse before recycle.