Despite her recent gaffe with factory-farmed chicken and KFC, Oprah is great for one thing: bringing otherwise overlooked news to the masses. Sure, you and I might know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and wring our hands over the fish and birds that consume the nodules of plastic, but I’m sure that the average American does not.
That’s why I was pleased to hear that Oprah brought up the matter on her Earth Day episode.
Some highlights from the video:
- In some places, the Great Garbage Patch is 90 feet deep
- 90 percent of the 3.5 million tons is plastic. Think about how lightweight most plastic is; that’s a lot of water bottles.
- In some places, there is 6 times as much plastic as there is plankton. Mmm…delicious food chain effects.
- There are actually 2 Garbage Patches: the Western and the Eastern. They commingle and stretch from the California coast to Japan.
- Plastic debris kills more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals.
- Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, but “photodegrades”. That is, it breaks down to microscopic pieces, entering the food chain at the lowest level. And we thought that we simply had to avoid buying plastic to avoid the creepy chemical effects!
- The UN Environment Program estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean on Earth. That’s disgusting.
While I commend various cities and municipalities for their recent bans of BPA, perhaps we could all use a bit more restricting? Look at your plastic consumption. I’ll look at mine. And let’s see where we can cut back, shall we?
- Reusable grocery bags, yes! Leave a couple in your trunk so you never forget. Plastic bags are a huge source of waste, as you can see from their Christmas-y effect in the trees all around. When you do find yourself strapped with these nasties, reuse, reuse, reuse.
- Reuse plastic produce bags. If you haven’t yet picked up reusable produce bags, use the ones you have over an over again. I keep some in my purse for the few items that must be bagged. (You can wash and reuse any zip-type sandwich bags you may have, too.)
- Make your own produce bags, and tuck them in your reusable grocery bags so they’re always on hand.
- Don’t. Buy. Bottled. Water. First off, there is no good reason to use bottled water. You’re often wasting money on glorified tap water; yum! And let’s not forget that most plastic grab-and-go drink bottles contain bisphenol-A, so you’re getting those fabulous effects, too. C’mon; it’s not like you’re reusing them to build an activist boat or something!