Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Waste Stream

On today's Oprah episode the whole show was on Earth Day and there were tips to save money while being conscious of the environment. There was also a lot of information on the sheer volume of waste that we create that was mind boggling.

Did you know that there is a line of garbage off the coast of California that extends all the way to Japan. They estimate that there is 3.5 million tons of garbage in the ocean. This "swirl" of waste is twice the size of Texas and in some places it is 90 feet deep. Marine life often mistake the plastic bags and floating debris for food and consume it, causing certain death to many animals. I wondered as I first saw this video footage how there could be so much garbage in the ocean but as was explained anything that we throw along the side of road or blows off a landfill site eventually makes its way to the ocean. Everything flows to the ocean. An item tossed along the road, goes in the ditch, gets picked up by rain water and taken to a larger stream, until eventually all streams wind up in the ocean. Now you might think that cruise ships, who we've heard horror stories of dumping their waste in the ocean, are the culprits. Only 20%, of this garbage, can be attributed to any type of ships that are out there and throw their garage overboard. The rest comes from us on land. Plastic is the biggest problem....100 billion plastic bags(or 300 per person each year) are used in our country each year. We've all seen them along the highways, caught in trees and underbrush, etc. Several countries have banned their use but they are heavily used in the U.S. If there is one thing that each of us could pledge to do to help our environment, it would be to reduce (or eliminate) the amount of plastic we use in our daily lives. Everything from zip-loc bags (we are big offenders of this), plastic shopping bags, etc. Anything that has a one time use and then winds up in a landfill or in our ocean. Use washable, re-usable containers...don't buy the individual bottled water...Buy a water filter and make your own filtered water and put it in a reusable container.

There was so much more information given today and if you want to learn more, go to oprah's site. Let's make smarter choices for our planet. It's the only one we have. The next time you have something plastic in your hand, think about the giant stream of garbage flowing from California to Japan. Not the kind of legacy we want to leave for our children, eh ?

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