Gold is Fleeting, Polymers are Forever
When I first picked up The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, I thought to myself, “Self, hang on for a depressing ride”, but after the first chapter I was actually feeling optimistic. For someone who is not into science as much as she is into shopping, the way Weisman describes the cyclical process of nature is easy to follow and I eventually began to understand that yes, the stresses we are putting on the environment are leading to potentially disastrous results, but at the same time nature can and will evolve to correct the world with us. But only if we change our ways. Starting yesterday.
So, why the title of this blog? Well, there was one section of the book I did find a little unappetizing and I bet you can imagine what it is about…plastic. Since 1945, Weisman explains, we have been living on a diet wrapped in plastics. This was a convenience generally unknown to the world until then, but within 10 years the term “throwaway society” had been coined by Life Magazine and our consumption of it has only grown. Plastics keep our food fresher longer, they bring us junk food in individually wrapped packages, they bring our groceries home from the store, and you really don’t have to look very hard to find them literally filling up your desk.
So following the natural breakdown cycle of elements from wind erosion to the land to rivers and eventually out to the ocean, it is safe to assume that plastic is in our ocean. Much more of it than we think. Sure, there’s a garbage patch of plastic waste nearly the size of Africa hanging out in the Pacific Ocean, but that is just what we can see! Studies of the itty bitty particles of the ocean result in the astonishing figures: 1/3 are identifiable as natural fibers, like seaweed, 1/3 are plastic and the other 1/3 are unknown, which means those unknown could also be plastics that have degraded into particles so small that they are unidentifiable.
Those are some staggering numbers! Before the International Olympic Committee has to create an obstacle course event in the Garbage Patch, I invite you to join our Green is Universal Carbonrally.com team and to start reducing the amount of plastic waste in your life – all our lives, really.
Nicole Walters, GreenisUniversal.com