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OT: disposing of plastics
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Sasquatch

Since 09 Mar 2005
1780 Posts
P-town
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PostWed Apr 29, 15 3:04 pm    OT: disposing of plastics Reply with quote

"disposing of plastics in the best way in hopes of helping preserve the rivers, oceans, and bodies of water we all play in"

So I guess if one goes to many beaches around the world one will find lots of garbage on the beaches; in particular lots of plastics laying around. Say one went to a beach we often use here up on the North Coast, ie Manzanita aka Manzo, the day after the organized beach cleanup that transpires every Spring (Beach Day). The beach looks pristine, but it is not. Then this plastics researcher comes up behind you and takes samples of the sand beneath your feet and discovers lots of finite, broken-down pieces of plastic in the sand and rocks your world. Perfect for the filter eaters to ingest and make it into/close to the bottom of the food chain. The beach looks clean, but it is actually littered with vast amounts of tiny plastics. A common scenario around the world's beaches so I have been told:-(

So, I have a question for you all out there. Is it better to dispose of plastics in it's largest form/s or is it better to dispose of plastics in smaller pieces (and, yes, I recycle plastics any chance I get)? A couple of examples:

1) I have been told to cut up the 6 pack plastic beverage/beer holders as the loops are a danger to wildlife. In particular, smaller animals like birds.

2) Another example are the mesh bags that carry materials and food. Like the plastic mesh bags that are used to carry tangerines and or avocados. I cut those up some animals don't get entangled within them. . .but I also notice that action creates lots of finite pieces of plastic that are easily transported by running water and or a breeze.

So which is the less of the two evils?

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dwaynej

Since 09 Sep 2013
207 Posts

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PostWed Apr 29, 15 3:53 pm    Re: OT: disposing of plastics Reply with quote

Sasquatch wrote:
...I have been told to cut up the 6 pack plastic beverage/beer holders as the loops are a danger to wildlife. In particular, smaller animals like birds...


Just need to cut each loop open then put in your recycle.

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Matt V

Since 26 Oct 2014
384 Posts
Summer- OR Coast, Winter - My van near good snow
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PostThu Apr 30, 15 4:56 am     Reply with quote

Hate to be a debbie downer, but fluorescent lamps (old style tube and new curly-q) make little bits of plastic look like organic compost.

For over 60years, we have been disposing of fluorescent lamps in the best way to aid in the spread of the toxic mercury contained inside of them.

By placing them in the garbage, they break and leak onto the street at your curb. Then the rain washes a portion into the sewers, then finds its way back into the environment. Pick your mode of transport - Combined sewer/storm run off, "humanure" used to fertilize farmers fields, or introduction to your water supply in your yard if you have a well.

By putting them in dumpsters, they are compacted by the garbage pickup truck, and the mercury collects and then slowly leaks out of them on to our roads. Then the mercury is washed into the road ditches. If you have half a brain, you know where all road ditches lead.

I used to work for a school district as temporary summer help. At our superiors direction, we were told to chuck 4 and 8ft tubes into the dumpsters "like spears so that they break down and do not take up dumpster space". I am sure that I personally was responsible for spreading an ounce of mercury on the playgrounds and parking lots behind grade schools and high schools.

A mechanism, similar to the system of fines related to the release of freon used in air conditioning systems, could have been used to prevent fluorescent lamp use from continuing to be the environmental disaster that it is. But corporate profits may be hurt if anyone knows how toxic the material in side of the new "Green" light bulbs are. And of course, no one would trust the government anymore if they knew that an established method of making our rivers, lakes, and oceans toxic, was being mandated.

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muthergoose

Since 14 Oct 2013
167 Posts
East Couve
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PostThu Apr 30, 15 9:09 am     Reply with quote

good lookin out

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kitebug

Since 27 Apr 2015
40 Posts
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PostThu Apr 30, 15 9:12 am     Reply with quote

It's not a decision you are making, it's something that happens over time no matter what you do. Once the plastic is in the Ocean and hits shore it only takes a few years to turn it into tiny particles... no matter if you cut it up or don't cut it up. So you might as well cut it up and save a few animals in the process, before, in the end, we all poison the entire food chain with microscopic plastic particles. If your trash makes it into the Ocean, which it will over time, even if recycled, then it will become plastic dust. How ever many times we recycle it or if we cut it or not is irrelevant.

You've got to think over time. These things don't happen in our time frame, they happen long after we are dead and gone. What we do now effects the next 7 generations according to the Iroquois Indians. They understood our relationship to the earth... we still don't get it! Oh, and all the kiting gear? Nylon, plastic, whatever.... We should be using hemp kites.

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kitebug

Since 27 Apr 2015
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PostThu Apr 30, 15 9:12 am     Reply with quote

It's not a decision you are making, it's something that happens over time no matter what you do. Once the plastic is in the Ocean and hits shore it only takes a few years to turn it into tiny particles... no matter if you cut it up or don't cut it up. So you might as well cut it up and save a few animals in the process, before, in the end, we all poison the entire food chain with microscopic plastic particles. If your trash makes it into the Ocean, which it will over time, even if recycled, then it will become plastic dust. How ever many times we recycle it or if we cut it or not is irrelevant.

You've got to think over time. These things don't happen in our time frame, they happen long after we are dead and gone. What we do now effects the next 7 generations according to the Iroquois Indians. They understood our relationship to the earth... we still don't get it! Oh, and all the kiting gear? Nylon, plastic, whatever.... We should be using hemp kites.

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beech

Since 21 Aug 2010
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PostThu Apr 30, 15 3:04 pm     Reply with quote

kitebug wrote:
What we do now effects the next 7 generations according to the Iroquois Indians. They understood our relationship to the earth... we still don't get it! .


Here's our relationship to the earth... it is going to kill us. You can fight it off for a while, but it will be a fight. "It" would just as soon make you dead as let you live. How about that relationship? Shocked


Forecast looks wonderful this weekend!! Razz

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C Johnson

Since 17 Apr 2009
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Seattle
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PostThu Apr 30, 15 6:12 pm     Reply with quote

what is wrong with plastic the size of grains of sand?

I seriously don't know. Please enlighten us.

My uneducated opinion makes me think this is maybe similar to composting in terms of eroding something back down into its natural form.

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Sasquatch

Since 09 Mar 2005
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PostThu Apr 30, 15 9:22 pm     Reply with quote

C Johnson wrote:
what is wrong with plastic the size of grains of sand?

I seriously don't know. Please enlighten us.

My uneducated opinion makes me think this is maybe similar to composting in terms of eroding something back down into its natural form.


I believe I just typed it up. Small pieces of plastic in the sand and mud where filter feeders live (ie clams and muscles). They get it in their system/s an animals higher up on the food chain eat the clams etc etc. Seems to make sense to me...

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Last edited by Sasquatch on Fri May 01, 15 7:40 am; edited 2 times in total

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C Johnson

Since 17 Apr 2009
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Seattle
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PostFri May 01, 15 7:27 am     Reply with quote

You explained it's happening.

Im asking what is the effect.

If I eat a piece of plastic small enough to pass through me im not sure what if any impact it really has on my health. Im guessing the answer probably depends on the type of plastic and if any chemicals can be absorbed out of it through digestion. I always thought the bigger issue was plastic getting stuck in stomachs of birds, fish, etc because it was too big to digest

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C Johnson

Since 17 Apr 2009
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PostFri May 01, 15 7:32 am     Reply with quote

In other news recycling is not what we thought it looked like

[url] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/09/chinas-crackdown-on-trash-could-make-it-harder-for-u-s-cities-to-recycle/[/url]

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kitebug

Since 27 Apr 2015
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PostFri May 01, 15 9:57 am     Reply with quote

Ok, the comment about the earth will kill you is just weird.

But I will address the micro particles, it's well studied by marine biologists. we are talking about microscopic pieces that interrupt cellular function in the lowest animals on the food chain that all sea life consumes. Here's an excerpt from one study:

Nonetheless, laboratory tests indicate that even very tiny particles can cause cellular damage in mammals. Microplastics have been found inside the bodies of a wide variety of marine organisms including invertebrates, fish, birds and mammals, and the ingestion of microplastics may have an effect on the feeding, movement, growth and breeding success of the host organism.

Plastics often contain chemicals added during manufacture and can absorb and concentrate contaminants such as pesticides from the surrounding seawater and there is emerging evidence of transfer of chemicals from ingested plastics into tissues.

Here's the link to the study by the Intergovernmental Ocenaographic Commission made up of hundreds of the top marine biologists around the world:
http://www.gesamp.org/work-programme/workgroups/working-group-40

Use Google: just type in effects of plastic on marine life or something like that.

I'm going to start my hemp kite company! Then you will all end up minion of the evil green empire! Ha Ha HA!

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C Johnson

Since 17 Apr 2009
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PostFri May 01, 15 10:33 am     Reply with quote

the WG 40 brochure is interesting but it really seems to only point out that micro plastics exist and that they MAY cause harm.

From what I can find it looks like they don't have enough data yet to understand the effects.

As far as environmental catastrophes I generally tend to look at them from this perspective.

1. is it real? in this case yes
2. if its real then what is the impact? in this case we don't seem to know the impact yet
3. if its impact is negative how severe is it? unknown
4. if the severity is great, is it feasible to prevent? its unlikely, especially with developing countries wanting to use whatever is cheapest.
5. it its too late to prevent is it feasible to slow down or prevent additional damage? maybe in some sectors but again this would require global support which is nearly impossible.
6. If its not feasible to slow down or prevent additional damage then focus on something I can impact in a positive way. In this case, water purification, cancer research and of course a personal initiative to use less all come to mind as better things to focus on.

e.g. I believe our climate is changing and it will have a very severe negative impact on many people. I'm not convinced the human race has enough influence on climate to reverse or prevent what is already happening. Because of this I tend to look at climate change with the perspective of "how can we best prepare for rising sea levels" instead of "how do we stop rising sea levels". Governments love the idea of stopping global warming because they can ask people and companies for endless amounts of money to fight this battle with no promise of anything in return.

wow alright, I'll step off my soapbox now. sorry to veer off topic. Back to the original question, i guess my perspective is bigger pieces of plastic are worse IMO.

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beech

Since 21 Aug 2010
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PostFri May 01, 15 8:15 pm     Reply with quote

C Johnson your response is full of logic and common sense.
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Haole

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user124

Since 02 Aug 2012
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Portland
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PostFri May 01, 15 9:17 pm     Reply with quote

Sometimes I think people get very myopic when it comes to these environmental issues. Most of it really all comes down to overpopulation. As third world countries become industrialized and everyone on the planet begins to consume the way Americans do we are in real trouble. This is compounded by high birth rates and geometric growth rates in those countries. Empowering women and increasing access to birth control in third world countries is probably the best thing we could do for the environment. Cutting up the plastic from your 6 pack, composting your table scraps and even driving a Prius might make you feel better but probably have very little real impact.

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sfbomber

Since 27 Jun 2012
88 Posts

 



PostTue May 05, 15 7:28 am     Reply with quote

The documentary Bag It (2010) is worth watching if you are interested on the subject. Plastic is not a "natural" trash, so it does not break down in the same rate as bio degradable trash.
The Addicted to Plastic (2008) documentary is available on youtube.com.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZnw-d_Axy8

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wakeup

Since 11 Sep 2005
328 Posts
always
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PostThu May 07, 15 6:48 am     Reply with quote

check out plastic paradise

the worst part about plastic is the "ONE time use and throw away" mentality that we have developed with bags and containers.
a plastic bag or container you used one time stays in the environment for 100s of years. It doesnt go away. it just breaks down and gets smaller and smaller and then some animal eats it then it starts moving up the food chain. even if it doesnt go all the way up the food chain to us..... well lets start with the ocean.... a little fish eats some plastic fishing line or particles of foam from a buoy. lets say that fish doesnt get eaten and just dies. then what is the bigger fish gonna eat? then what is going to happen ecosystem of the ocean? then the earth?

stop for a minute and think about all the plastic you have used or owned in your whole life.

obviously it would be tough cut plastic totally out of your life, but a good start would be to stop using plastic bags and try not to buy items that are packed in plastic. "ONE time use" kinda things. Next would be to look at the plastic you are using and make sure that it is recyclable. buying a soda? get the one in the glass bottle rather than the plastic bottle

You can go on with the "oh there is no conclusive evidence that it is harmful" attitude but there is no conclusive evidence that it isn't harmful. so in the meantime, we just keep producing and tossing it for the next 3-4 generations to have to deal with just so we can have our convenience, now.


seems like a pretty selfish way of thinking to me....

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