2 posts categorized "plastic"

August 15, 2011

Women are Working to Change Our Plastic Ways

Screen shot 2011-08-15 at 7.25.27 AM Bettina Wassener summed up the brutal facts about plastic in the NY Times this week. (thank you Bettina)

"About 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year. Only about 10 percent of that is recycled. Of the plastic that is simply trashed, an estimated seven million tons ends up in the sea each year."   full article here.

As daunting and disappointing as that number is, she also flagged that starting in September there will be a Plastic Disclosure Project. 

Naming the problem is always the first step to a solution, then when many companies measure and disclose their plastic ways we can begin taking steps to reduce it. We'll be watching and reporting on its success. 

It's a big deal as eventually everything ends up at the bottom of the "hill" and that would be the ocean which no one nation takes responsibility for cleaning up. 

Beth Terry first brought it to my attention when she started blogging on MyPlasticFreeLife (formerly Fake Plastic Fish). 

Screen shot 2011-08-15 at 8.08.01 AM And that's how all these changes are happening, one person blogs, others comment, more gather data, additional groups report on it. And now business is doing something about it. In September we'll have a formal system for Plastic disclosure in in the way that water is tracked or greenhouse gases. This is what corporate social responsibility looks like. 

Note that governments are side liners in this movement. A quick check of the Plastic Coalition team tells the tale of which gender is pushing for this change. The majority of the worker bees are women.



It appears that the Plastic Disclosure Project has two guys (Doug and Erik) at the helm and that seems to be the pattern for social change these days -- women activate and men formulate. Women flag the problems and and give it exposure and men find ways to make it work with business. It's a true co-creation partnership of synergies.

You can't finish what you don't start, so thank you to all the "Beths" who are in activation mode. Let me know what you're doing and we'll feature it on In Women We Trust.

November 07, 2010

Ladies, the World Needs You To Be Less Plastic...

Is this India? Mexico? No, it's Long Beach, California after a rain. It's what happens when the 51 miles of LA river channel washes whatever is in it into the Queensway Bay in Long Beach.

Screen shot 2010-11-06 at 11.03.28 AM

 We don't have to travel to one of the five ocean gyres where plastic swirls and chokes the life out of our marine animals, we can walk on water right here and spend millions cleaning it up. It gives new meaning to, "What a waste..."

The screen shot came via yesterday's all-day TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch conference held in Long Beach, CA organized by the Plastic Pollution Coalition. The actual event had limited seating but anyone could attend virtually via house parties. Hopefully they'll post the presentations for later replay. 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is but one of 5 Gryes of patches (maybe more) that have formed.

As shocking as the above is to look at, the statistics on what we are doing to our oceans and LAND by using single use plastics and then throwing it away are scary. You don't have to believe in climate change to see that we drastically need to change the way we relate to this pervasive pollutant.

A few of the not-so-fun facts from yesterday:

  • Over 2.4 million pounds of plastic are being dumped into our oceans EVERY HOUR.  
  • We're losing 1 million apex animals every year because of them eating plastic and dying horrible deaths.
  • Less than 5% of plastic is recycled.
  • 40 governments and/or major municipalities representing 25% of the world's population have BANNED the plastic bag. (California recently caved to the corporate money and kept plastic bags alive, but banning the bag will be put up for election again.)

Screen shot 2010-11-06 at 10.08.29 AM Pretty grim, eh? And the pictures were worse, such as the picture of the sun bleached bones of a former camel lying in the sand -- that was the only thing left, bones and the bushel basket size ball of plastic that the poor camel ingested earlier while raiding a garbage dump near Dubai. 

The morning sessions left me pretty disgusted with myself and my species for mucking things up so badly for all living things.

"Hope" came in the afternoon sessions, when more than one presenter named 'women' as part of the solution:

  1. Women buy 85% consumer (weekly) items that are wrapped in single use plastic packaging. 
  2. As such we have the responsibility to educate each other on the issue and then...
  3. Stop it. Just stop it. Quit buying anything with single-use plastic on it.

That's what Beth Terry is doing (seen below). Because of Beth's dedication to dropping her own consumption from the national average of about 100 pounds of consumer plastics per person per year to 3.7 pounds for her, she was asked to be part of this impressive line up that included Fabien Cousteau, Van Jones, Stacy Malkan,  Ed Begley, Arlene Blum, Suja Lowenthal,  H.E. John Dramani Mahama...  go Beth!

Screen shot 2010-11-06 at 2.22.10 PM

As Beth pointed out, many plastic products don't have to list what is in them, it's up to the consumer to ask. If the companies don't supply the answer don't but the product. It's better to be safe than sorry, the toxin BPA is now in 9 out of 10 newborns according to another speaker, Ken Cook

Stacy Malkan, Co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics called for a "Girlcott" -- buying only what is good for you instead of boycotting what is bad. She went on to say that the government did get a Safe Cosmetics Act in place this year, but that isn't enough. If we want change WE have to make the first move, "Show your passion and your outrage." 

There were so many excellent speakers. I wish I could quote them all. 

Women have 54% of the electoral vote and 85% of the consumer 'vote'. If the first vote doesn't get action, use your second "voting" power and don't buy what they are selling. If you really want to make a point, blog about it.  

As for cutting back, each year an average family uses 500 plastic grocery bags. If you need a place to start, start by carrying your own bags when you shop.