Dana Richardson, by Susan Knight, Mermaid Photographer, Susan Knight Studios

Ocean Commotion: The Plastic Pollution Crisis
Organic Spa Magazine HEALTH
by Zoe Helene

Unless we save our seas from the ever-increasing mounds of discarded pop bottles and plastic bags, there won’t be much living ocean left.

The health of life on Earth depends on its oceans. But unless we save our seas from the growing mounds of pop bottles, cigarette butts and plastic trash, soon there won’t be much healthy sea left. We need to protect our precious seas, shores and sea life.

Hundreds of thousands of sea animals die each year because of discarded grocery bags, straws, water and soda bottles, lids, and other trash carelessly tossed aside. That includes turtles, seals, seabirds, sperm whales, and at least 267 marine species; including thousands of species that are classified as “Endangered”. Marine animals mistake plastic for food, and ingesting plastic is eventually fatal. Entanglement in plastic debris, especially ropes, monofilament lines and packing bands, is another killer.

Experts Speak Out

Center for Biological Diversity

“Plastics are an everyday convenience for us, but a daily death sentence for seabirds, seals, sea turtles and hundreds of other ocean species. Our oceans are littered with grocery bags, drink lids, water bottles and candy wrappers. This isn’t rocket science: If we want healthy sea life, we need to keep garbage out of our oceans. We can make it happen, but it’s got to become a national priority.” - Emily Jeffers, Attorney, Center for Biological Diversity; biologicaldiversity.org

Photo by Goncalo Veiga

National Audubon Society

“Plastics not only kill birds by choking and drowning, but they also absorb and give off toxins when swallowed by birds. Ingestion is an increasing problem, especially for marine birds, because plastics blow and float into the ocean where they never disappear—but rather break up into smaller bits which resemble fish eggs and marine worms. Everyone can help by reducing the use of plastics and encouraging reuse and recycling.” - Stephen Kress, VP for Bird Conservation, National Audubon Society

Photo by Chris Jordan

Endangered Species Coalition

“Approximately 90 percent of floating trash in the oceans is plastic. Disposable plastic is everywhere, so it is not surprising that it has become a wildlife threat. Disposable plastic bags have become particularly troublesome for imperiled marine wildlife. Species such as monk seals, sperm whales and sea turtles have been known to ingest plastic bags leading to a gruesome death by suffocation, drowning or starvation. The impact can be significant. One study links one third of leatherback sea turtles' deaths to plastics. There is no question that we cannot continue to create massive floating islands of trash without impacting our precious natural heritage.” - Leda Huta, Executive Director, Endangered Species Coalition

Photo by Ewan Edwards

Kick the Plastic Habit!

The health of our planet depends on 7 billion individuals making better day-to-day choices. All those seemingly small discarded plastic items add up. Here are but a few of many great lifestyle products that will help you get your numbers down. They’re all affordable and easy to use alternatives to some of the plastic trash items most commonly found on beaches or in the sea.

LIFEFACTORY Baby Bundle, $37.50; lifefactory.com Glass is fully recyclable. It is also a healthy choice for holding liquids because no toxins leak into the liquids. These bottles are difficult to break, and the product is BPA, phthalates, polycarbonates and PVC free. This clever company has designed their products to grow as your little ones grow. Colorful replacement lids for your baby bottles transforms the glass base into sippy cups for toddlers, then into flat caps for school kids. They also have a variety of adult-sized drinking bottles.

“I spent 17 years in a hospital system working with infants, children and parents on feeding issues. Lifefactory is a reflection of my total commitment to family health.” – Pam Marcus, Lifefactory Co-Founder

SUSTY PARTY Striped Straws; sustyparty.com If you want a straw, choose compostable ones. The Susty brand is available in many natural products retail stores and their online store has an impressive selection of curated, color-coordinated earth-friendly plates, bowls and straws. All of their branded party supplies are made from renewably harvested plant material in the United States. They’re non-toxic and fully compostable.

“Parties and events generate the second-largest amount of waste in the U.S., just behind the construction industry! We've been scouring the planet for years to find the most responsibly made and fun supplies. Our goal is no less than making every party a celebration with sustainability.” - Emily Doubilet, CEO, and Jessica Holsey, President

BOGOBRUSH Biodegradable Bamboo Toothbrush; bogobrush.com Bogobrush’s bristles are made of bio/plastic nylon, (polyamide 4) and studies have confirmed the material degrades within a few months of proper composting. Brother and sister team John and Heather are the children of a dentist, and they care about the 80 million Americans who lack access to adequate dental care. Their generous “BUY ONE + GIVE ONE” campaign means that every time you buy a new brush, they’ll send another new brush to someone in need.

“Each year in the U.S., alone we throw more than 450 million plastic toothbrushes into landfills. Reports show that 80 percent of the trash found in oceans and on beaches originates from landfills or other urban sources. That's a lot of toothbrushes! The Bogobrush is completely biodegradable, so even if your discarded toothbrush finds its way into the trash stream, it will be like a harmless bamboo stick on the shore, until it naturally returns safely to earth.” - Heather McDougall, CEO, BogoBrush

IITTALA Kitchen Mouth-Blown Glass Storage Jars; wayfair.com These sleek, contemporary Scandinavian designer jars turn day-to-day storage into decorating fun. They’re as functional as they are great-looking and are made from high-quality glass that comes in a series of shapes, sizes and colors. They stack beautifully, and are perfect for storing grains, herbs, pasta, cookies, or anything else you can think of. They’re high quality, mouth-blown, non-leaded glass with rubber-sealed airtight lids for freshness.

THE CONTAINER STORE Tall Colored Giara Hermetic Bottles; containerstore.com These brightly colored glass bottles are perfect for storing homemade gourmet salad dressings, special flavored oils and vinegars, and other home-brewed concoctions like teas and herbal medicines. The airtight hermetic clamp closure keeps contents fresh, and they’re dishwasher-safe.

KLEAN KANTEEN Reflect; kleankanteen.com A first of its kind, this totally plastic-free product line is premium quality. The cap is crafted from a single piece of stainless steel and finished with beautiful, sustainably harvested bamboo. Available in brushed stainless and shiny mirror finishes. They also have high-performance, double-walled, vacuum-insulated bottles that function like a thermos.

KLEAN KANTEEN Stainless Steel Pint Cup; kleankanteen.com Why choose single-use plastic cups when these stainless steel pint cups are lightweight, reusable and fully recyclable. Plus, stainless steel is one of the safest food and beverage storage materials available. Optional colorful pint rings and carabineers make it easy to snap your pint onto your bike or backpack, so you can take it with you wherever you go. Great price rates for packs of four, so stock up!

TO GO WARE Reusable Bamboo Utensils; to-goware.com Fork? Check. Knife? Check. Spoon? Check. Chopsticks? Yup! Keep those wasteful plastic utensils out of the mouths of hungry seabird chicks with this stylish, reusable bamboo utensil set. Comes with a holster in on-trend colors and has a handy carabiner clip.

“We know that single use plastics are a big problem affecting our landfills, but what many people still don't realize, is how they are affecting our oceans. We hope To-Go Ware can provide people an alternative to plasticware, to both begin to alleviate this destructive problem but also help raise awareness around the positive impact one can make by reusing and avoiding single use plastics.” - Stephanie Bernstein-Joffe, CEO & Founder, To-Go Ware

BUILT Gourmet Getaway Lunch Tote; builtny.com This festive reusable bag is made from neoprene (the wetsuit material) and will insulate for up to four hours. Created for foodies on-the-go, it is great for road trips, plane rides, or any time you're traveling and want to keep healthy food handy. It’s machine washable and stores flat. Has a zip closure, and zero vinyl or PVC and comes in many fun colors and prints.

SIGG Alu Lunch Box Maxi in Metallic Blue, $35.99; mysigg.com These versatile aluminum boxes are practical and stylish. They’re strong yet lightweight, and make a great reusable lunchbox or portable storage for keeping snacks or any sort of small items. Maxi is their large box and measures 8.97" x 5.70" x 3.03".

KEEP LEAF Reusable Baggies Lunch Bundle; ecopiggy.com These clever, cute reusables are a great alternative to disposable plastic sandwich and snack bags. The outside is made of 100% organic cotton and the liners are waterproof to keep food fresh inside, with a velcro strip to secure the closure. They come in a variety of patterns and colors and can be hand-washed, machine washed, or tossed in the dishwasher. The bundle includes one large and one medium baggie and a cloth napkin.

ECOBAGS Drawstring Net Ditty Bag; ecobags.com The ‘ditty’ mini sack is just one of many great conscious shopping products by this forward-thinking company. A simple, cute and handy solution for carrying small produce and other items within larger bags. Also makes a great ‘just-in-case bag’ for purchases other than grocery shopping. Stock up with their great, the-more-you-buy, the-more-you-save pricing system.

“Once we all realize we don't have to sacrifice convenience by carrying our own reusable bags, there will be a shift for the better. It's a new conscious practice that will replace an old habit. If you consider yourself a global citizen, using reusable bags is a matter of integrity. Once you're committed, everything begins to shift.” - Sharon Rowe, CEO & Founder, Eco-Bags Products

BAGGU Reusable Grocery Bag; baggu.com This simple, gender-neutral bag fold up into a tiny 5" by 5" pouch, so no excuses. Keep one in your glove compartment if you drive or in your backpack if you bike. It comes in a wide variety of colors, is machine washable, and holds 2 – 3 times the amount of a standard plastic grocery bag without straining. Strap works for carrying in your hand or over your shoulder.
August 2015