Monday, February 22, 2010

the garBAGe patch

FAST FACTS - And these are just the bags

Paper, plastic or neither?

A 2003 study found U.S. residents used 90 billion retail bags that year.

In Florida, only 12 percent of plastic bags and 37 percent of paper bags are reused or recycled,

. Across the nation, about 30 states have enacted or considered bag regulations. Other actions include:

Washington, D.C.: Effective this year, the city authorized a 5-cent tax on paper and plastic bags to promote the used of reusable shopping bags.

Edmonds, Wash.: Banned retail establishments from distributing single-use plastic bags in August 2009.

North Carolina: In 2009, retail stores on the coastal Outer Banks were prohibited from giving plastic bags to customers and required to use paper bags made of recycled content.

Delaware: Required all retail stores exceeding 7,000 square feet to establish recycling programs for plastic bags.

Marshall County, Iowa: Mandated the use of compostable plastic, recyclable paper or reusable checkout bags in all retail stores.

Alaska: About 30 communities in the western part of the state established bans on plastic bags starting in 1998 to prevent litter at dumps and harm to wildlife.

(Frank, John. Plastic or paper or neither? Florida lawmakers may weigh in. Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau. February 17, 2010)

There is a lot of plastic that isn't in the bag.

For years .......there have been tales of a floating island of waste the size of Texas. Its colorful nickname was the Great Eastern Garbage Patch.... even more mind-boggling than the purported scale was that pretty much the only places you could dig up any substantial info about it were in minor oceanographic and environmental publications. You also couldn't find a photo of it to save your life.

The Garbage Patch is located at a natural collecting point at the center of a set of revolving currents called the North Pacific Gyre. The middle of the Gyre is more of a meteorological phenomenon than an actual place: a consistent high-pressure zone north of the Hawaiian Islands that, combined with the extremely weak currents, helps keep the ocean surface as placid as lake water.

Flotsam has been sucked into this area from the encircling currents for as long as the Pacific's existed, but up until the last century this process ended with the refuse safely biodegrading and being reabsorbed into the food chain as nutrients. With the advent of plastics, however, the Garbage Patch has transformed from a fertile feeding ground to the oceanic equivalent of a desert. And a particularly c - -p-strewn desert at that. Morton,Thomas . (Garbage Island, VBS-TV.February 17, 2010. )

The Garbage Patch is made up of nearly 80 percent used and discarded plastic bags as well as other plastic garbage, that is twice the size of Texas and still growing! The Los Angeles Times calls this entire plastic bag island "an environmental atrocity” . As the plastic slowly begins to degrade, bits and pieces are making its way into the food chain as aquatic life finds it hard to distinguish this garbage from food.

Sea turtles, birds and others mistake this stuff as being edi ble, as an example, turtles think floating plastic bags are jellyfish and eat them, with the resu lt that the plastic does not digest nor does it get passed as waste, literally gumming up the works and killing the unfortunate creature that ingested it. (The Great Garbage Patch. Because Action. December 14, 2009)

Where does all of it go?

Guess who's left holding the bag?

In February (2010) a much-anticipated report from state environmental regulators may spur Florida lawmakers to consider a ban on plastic retail bags.

Sen. Lee Constantine of Altamonte Springs, the Republican chairman of the Senate's environmental committee, appeared adamant Tuesday in prodding the Legislature to act.

"We are working together to try to (increase recycling) — this is part of an opportunity," he said. "If we don't control or find a way to start reusing these better … we're never going to get there."

A number of Florida communities — including Miami, Parkland, Key West and Sarasota — were considering regulations.

However... the state's powerful business lobby — a powerful opponent to any change — quietly tucked a provision in the 2008 energy bill that prohibited local governments from banning plastic bags, in what some consider a violation of local sovereignty, or "home rule."

A quick look at "trash"


  1. Nicholas B - RED

    Yeah, we definitely need to start recycling plastic and paper bags. all the bags turn into trash that harms the enviroment. the video "the bay vs. the bag" is a small video that actually shows what can haappen to our earth.

  2. Great comment Nicholas... put two in the bonus box.

    And thanks

  3. I think we should start to rule out plastic bags if people only use them once but, if they keep using them over and over (like my family does) we should be allowed to have them. I also like the idea of charging plastic bags.

  4. Elizabeth G.-RED

    We really need to stop using plastic bags. I think its wrong that almost all the plastic bags go into the ocean. They harm the environment and the animals that live there.

  5. Tylor Chouinard orange

    Poor sea turtles. So much life is dieing because of us and how little we care about the enviornment.

  6. I Feel really bad for all of those poor little animals that have to suffer and die for our mistakes of being to lazy to recycle our plastic bags and soda cans when we get the chance. I think that if we don't start to make a change and reuse,reduse, and recycle it might just be a possibility that our carelessness will get the best of us and our ozone will be soooo polluted that we might not be able to beath air without a mask and we would burn from the sun going through the polluted ozone.

  7. Tylor, you can do something about it... spread the word and everyone do one little bit at a time.. ( 2 pts in the bonus box)

    Hanna.. you make some good points too! Ozone is really very interesting..some places we want ozone..some places we don't.

    ( 2 pts in the bonus box)

    Thanks gang

    Can you think of a specific way to help?

  8. Wow i think we should ban plastic bags because all their doing is adding to the garbage patch and it is also killing many of our animals. I have two questions once the animals eat the plastic may it starve to death because it can't eat as much food? Also once the animals eat the plastic do they know not to eat it again or does it not know?

  9. Breat Questions Auriel...

    Yes, animals that "fill up" on plastic can not digest it and they may not be able to eat enough or have room enough for "real" food. Whales and filter feeders that consume plankton are very vulnerable. It is very difficult for spedies to identify the plastic as being harmful before it is "too late."

    Thanks.. thats 2 bonus points for sure.

  10. Hannah McElroy-Orange P.2April 8, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    Wow,I never would have thought that plactic bags could be this harmful to our earth and animals. I feel so bad that sea turtles and other animals are suffering and dieing from us humans not throwing away or even recycling our soda cans and plastic bags.
    I think that banning plastic bags is a good solution.It could help save alot more animals lives and and would maybe even decrease the amount of garbage patch.

  11. That is so wrong i'm going to do my best to help save those beatiful creatures.

    maria violet