Archives
May 29, 2017
link to facebook link to twitter
More Stories
The annual Avenue of Flags May 29 at RP Community Center SSU commencement; one for the history books Problem reaching AT&T last weekend? During Rohnert Park City Council meeting protestors unexpectedly take center stage Vehicle pursuit ends with arrest of 14-year-old Ex RP public safety officer pleads no contest to sex offenses Rancho 2017 top 20 Great turnout for RPPSOA pancake breakfast to help Project Grad Gabriella stole the show Town Hall meeting Sheriff's office releases details on SSU officer involved shooting A true celebration of ‘Cinco de Mayo’ Project Grad help in full swing Richard Crane Elementary School Suspect arrested after evading a Cotati Peace Officer Emiri Nomura awarded scholarship Shopping carts ran amok in Cotati last Saturday Ricardo Oliva receives ‘Coach of the year’ for the Northern District Sonoma State University equestrians jump with joy on their way to Kentucky Double Decker Lanes hosts the QubicaAMF Boys and Girl Club employee arrested for child endangerment Armed suspect arrested after resistance RP girl accosted while walking to school And they're off. . . Saddle Up and Ride Community quickly rallies for Project Grad Cotati opposes SB 618 Rohnert Park City Council to host Town Hall meeting on May 3 Graton Tribe makes good on payments Auto burglar arrested by Cotati Police A bit of Uganda A mission to help RP to replace old trees Engineering with Legos at the Ray Miller Community room Bunkers at Foxtail set for repairs RP man arrested for attempted murder CRPUSD OKs two contracts Credo gets used to new digs at SMV Golf Course Drive Crossing concerns may delay SMART train ‘Quiet Zones’ Man busted for DUI after crashing into tree in RP New hands bring subtle changes to Sharing of the Green fundraiser A traditional dance of Japan Shameful time in history RP rejects new self-storage facilities Survey Says: Rohnert Park Residents Love City, but not Traffic Council amends UDSP Body of missing woman found RAFD names part-time fire chief KRCB garners huge windfall from FCC auction Missing Penngrove woman's body found in Marin County Bunfest was hopping with bunny lovers Nonn expected to sue CRPUSD Credo crew marches to new home Cotati delays vote on Valparaiso The Voice enters into 25th year Cotati-reviews midyear budget Two RP Parks getting upgrades A new look for SSU gym RP man reported missing Padre Town Center changes hands Sonoma County to take a look at immigration issue Bomb scare closes RCHS Local Tech High student chosen for Scholars program RP to conduct survey Man arrested after high-speed chase through 3 cities RP makes changes to city code for ADUs Man gets 11 years in prison for RP knife attack Man who led chase into SF caught Treasurer for Rancho Cotate High Project Grad Arrested for Embezzlement A crab feast at Community Center Taking a pie in her grill RP man busted for possession of meth Cotati OKs water, sewer rate study RP votes to regulate vaping CRPUSD schools now a safe haven for immigrant students RP adds seven to public safety Cotati votes to host shopping cart race Man arrested for attempted murder Defibrillators proving to be invaluable assets Artists ready for art show at library Reilani Peleti Corrections Suspected explosive device at RCHS Seventh-graders in local schools to be taught CPR Voice issues apology to school board, superintendent RP man arrested on drug possession charges

Plastic never really goes away

By:
May 3, 2012

On Cotati Creek Critters Trash Pick Up days, volunteers have been astonished and disgusted by the amount of garbage that finds its way into our waterways. Much of it is found at the storm drain outlets, clear evidence it’s being washed off the land, off streets and parking lots, backyards and schoolyards into the creeks. And much of it is plastic.

In April, Cotati Creek Critters hosted an event with Stuart Moody of Green Sangha’s Rethinking Plastics Campaign on the wonders of, and problems with, plastics. Since 2006, the campaign has inspired zero waste practices in schools and businesses, saving tons of plastic from the landfill every year, and contributing to several waste reduction ordinances in Marin County.

Plastics are everywhere. Take a look around your house, office, or grocery store. They cover our food, clothe our bodies, they’re in our computers, our gardens, our office supplies, in the ocean and even in our bodies. In 2010, the annual amount of plastic produced in the USA was about 50 million tons - roughly twice the weight of every man, woman, and child in the nation. In the same year, Americans threw away more than half that amount of plastic, not recycled.

Plastic never really goes away. Though plastic products may chip, break, shatter and tear, dispersing into tiny pieces, those pieces are not biodegradable. Almost all the plastic that has ever been made still exists. Over 180 pounds of plastic per person per year goes to landfill.

According to the EPA, only 7 percent of our total plastic waste gets recycled - and even that is a misnomer. For example, many communities that recycle will accept only no. 1 and no. 2 plastics, which cannot be made back into their original product.

Water bottles (no. 1 plastic) are made into articles such as shampoo bottles, polar fleece, and carpeting. No. 2 plastics can be made into plastic “lumber” and items such as traffic cones. These become trash when the structure or object is damaged or destroyed. In contrast to aluminum, glass or paper recycling, plastic recycling is really just “down-cycling,” a step on the way to landfill.

Much of the plastic that gets discarded or blows away on the land finds its way into the oceans, where it breaks down into tiny, tiny pieces. Here are the phytoplankton and zooplankton, tiny aquatic plants and animals, which form the basis of the marine food chain. In 2001, a surface trawl of the Central Pacific Gyre between San Francisco and Hawaii found six pounds of plastic particles for every pound of zooplankton. A subsequent trawl in 2008 found the ratio at 46:1.

This growing accumulation of debris is lethal. Millions of seabirds and fish, and tens of thousands of animals including whales and turtles, mistake plastic debris for food, and are found with their carcasses full of plastic bottle tops, plastic bags, and other bits of plastic debris, or get tangled up in it and are drowned or suffocated.

Plastics attract fatty substances, including other petrochemicals. Plastic fragments in the ocean can collect highly toxic chemicals at a concentration up to one million times greater than in the ambient sea water. In a process called bio-accumulation, creatures that consume plastic concentrate these toxins in ever greater amounts up the food chain.

Plastic chemicals are found in the bloodstream of about 95 percent of Americans. Phthalates, used to provide softness or pliability for plastic items, break down under the action of heat, light, or mechanical stresses, and migrate into the air or water or whatever substances they are next to, including water bottles and toys. Every plastic item that wears down leaves a trail of plastic particles that get lifted by the breeze into the air all creatures breathe.

In humans, plastic exposure has been associated with cancer, asthma, and diabetes. High concentrations of phthalates correlate with higher risk of endocrine disruption leading to premature delivery, early onset of puberty, and other reproductive disorders. Bisphenol-A, used in polycarbonate items such as five-gallon water bottles, as well as lining most food cans, is also a known endocrine disruptor associated with cancer, diabetes and obesity . So what can we do?

At the April event, “Green Mary” spoke about her successful 10-year old business which “greens” conferences, fairs and festivals, and other events, with the aim of creating zero waste. She showed us how little waste we really need to create if we shop consciously, minimizing unnecessary packaging, using “real” plates and silverware instead of throw-aways, scrupulously composting everything that can be composted, recycling everything else, and minimizing the use of plastic. After a meal for 300 people I once attended, Green Mary held up three foil-lined tea bag sachets and said, “This is all the waste we created at this event!” So it can be done.

Sachiko Knappman of Mottainai Sonoma then described and demonstrated “furoshiki,” a Japanese method of creating a wide variety of containers of all sorts from lunch boxes to baby carriers to shopping bags to gift wrap, using simple squares of cloth tied in specific ways. This way, your piece of cloth can have many uses and be used over and over again in different ways, lasting for years.

Everyone can do something, however large or small, from minimizing the amount of plastic you bring into your own home, to supporting the proposed county-wide ban on plastic bags. It’s a great way to start, and if we all take these actions, we will save untold suffering across the planet.
 
Jenny Blaker is Outreach Coordinator of Cotati Creek Critters. Stuart Moody is Board President of Green Sangha and initiated the Rethinking Plastics campaign in 2005.