Looking at Dome's Beach from El Faro Park

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Plastic Free Oceans

Yesterday we went to a news conference at the Villa Cofresi announcing the start of a standup paddle board journey around the island of Puerto Rico to raise awareness of the problem of plastics and their growing mass in the oceans around Puerto Rico.  Here's a link to their website:   So happy to see a local getting local kids and communities involved in this issue.  At the news conference, Ernie Alvarez spoke of his journey to come and what he hoped to accomplish, the plight of sea turtles stuck in plactic bags and a growing sea of plastic out there in the ocean that surrounds us.  Our friends Angelo Cordero and Katka Konecna will accompany him to photograph and film the journey as well as the news conferences along the way.  They will raffle off a brand new ARK paddle board at the end on June 5th and are selling t-shirts and reusable grocery bags to help fund their "Challenging the Ocean to Save the Ocean" campaign.
     The plastics issue has been gaining ground lately, there have been a number of documentaries detailing the plastic soup running hundred of miles swirling around the Pacific Ocean.  One of the most interesting facts that I learned recently:  PLASTIC NEVER DIES, every piece of polyethylene plastic manaufactured since the 1930's when it was first made is still around!!  So  these statistics: 
  • Number of plastic bags used worldwide each year: 4,000,000,000,000 to 5,000,000,000,000.
  • Amount of oil used annually to produce plastic bags: 17,200,000,000 to 21,500,000,000 gallons.
  • Number of plastic bags used by Americans each year: 110,000,000,000.
  • Amount of plastic bags recycled in the United States in 2006: 2%.
  • Amount of plastic used worldwide every year just to bottle water: 1,500,000 to 2,700,000 tons.
  • Number of plastic water bottles sold in the United States in 1997: 4,000,000,000
  • Nearly eight out of every 10 bottles will end up in a landfill.
end up being pretty scary.

     So what to do.  Using reusable grocery bags is the easiest way to start and I was stoked to see MR. Special, a grocery store in Aguada selling these bags for $.99  Maybe we will see some changes that already afoot in the states come to the island.  I ran across a great website that uses guerilla tactics to raise awareness of the problem of single-use plastic bottles and containers,  They have downloadable stickers that they urge you to glue onto vending machines and anywhere plastic bottles are sold.  A great way for kids to stick it to the man and stick up for a great cause.
     With the bottled water boom kicking into high gear 10 years ago, plastic usage has surged and these ubiquitous bottles have not only contibuted more than their share to the pollution of the oceans, but manufacturing these bottles also creates problems: