20 posts categorized "Tales of the Weird"

April 01, 2011

Hawaii-sized Recycled Island to be Built from Ocean Garbage Patch

Mother Nature Network 4.1.11

PatchDutch architect Ramon Knoester has an ambitious design that will turn the 7 billion pounds of plastic trash swirling in the Pacific Ocean into the world's most eco-friendly society. That's right. He wants to create a 100 percent sustainable floating island for interested inhabitants. The island made from collected debris will bob somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii. And although the idea may seem unthinkable, Koester's firm, WHIM architecture, is already in the process of designing a prototype for the fittingly named "Recycled Island," reports Discovery News.

Check out the project's website for more information about Recycled Island, or learn about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch here

Click here to read the full article.

Image: Ingrid Taylar/ Flickr

March 30, 2011

Turtle Found that Pooped Plastic for a Month

Mother Nature Network 3.30.11

Main_turtle_16 One of the more disturbing effects of our over-indulgence and reliance on use-and-toss disposables rests in the significant health risks it poses to animals via marine pollution. Of the issues being discussed this week at the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, one report that has experts talking is the appalling story of a sea turtle that ingested a large piece of plastic that became lodged in its gastrointestinal tract, preventing the turtle from normal digestion. After researchers dislodged the shard of plastic, the animal proceeded to defecate 74 foreign objects over the next month!

According to the report, which was issued by Seaturtle.org's Marine Turtle Newsletter (pdf), about half of all surveyed sea turtles have ingested plastic. 

See what shocking items this turtle ingested by reading the full article here. To access advice and follow conference events, visit the group's website here.
Image: Mnn.com

Republicans Scrap 'Compostable' Utensils in House Cafeterias

Los Angeles Times 3.25.11

60390430 After gaining control of the House, Republicans are piling their plates with a controversial issue that's separating lawmakers significantly along party lines.

According to Republicans, the use of "compostable" cups and utensils was "neither cost-effective nor energy-efficient," as reported by the L.A. Times. Notorious plastic utensils and flimsy polystyrene cups are back, and Democrats have a mouthful to say about it. Modifying utensils in the cafeteria, which serves approximately 230,000 meals a month, was an essential part of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Green the Capitol initiative.  Some lawmakers are advocating the wisdom of reusables by bringing mugs from home and suggesting metal spoons and forks as a solution to the issue.
 
Take a look at our disposable lunch item facts for information regarding cutlery and lunch waste.

Read the full article here.

Image: Jim Young / Reuters

November 19, 2010

TED talk: Are mushrooms the new plastic?

TED.com 10.4.10

In July, Eben Bayer gave a speech at an Oxford TED conference detailing how his company turns agricultural waste into truly biodegradable packing material. How biodegradable? It's literally grown from a fungus.

Polystyrene (or styrofoam, as many know it) is commonly used to pack delicate hardware and breakables for shipping; When it degrades in nature, it releases carcinogens. If adopted for widespread use, Bayer's packing material could reduce the production and disposal of polystyrene immensely.

 

September 21, 2010

Dutch Plan to Turn Waste Into Living Space

Ventnor Blog - 6.30.10

A group of scientists from Holland are planning to construct an "Eco Island" by collecting and recycling just under 100 million pounds of plastic bottles from the Pacific Ocean.
 
The plan is to create a completely habitable island and populate it with about 500,000 people. The proposed island would be the size of Hawaii, self-sufficient for food, and would use solar and wave power to supplement its power supply.

Read the full story here.

Our Take: This is a clever way to raise worldwide awareness of a plethora of issues concerning waste. The project touches on everything from land usage, carbon footprint reduction and power consumption to plastic waste and the polluted state of our oceans.
 
Sadly, the amount of plastic to be used in the proposed island would be less than 20% of the amount disposed of by the US in just 2008, and we've already called plenty of attention to the folly of trying to solve the plastic bag problem through recycling.

February 03, 2010

Johsua Allen Harris' Inflatable Bag Monsters

YouTube 7.08

We discovered Harris' haunting art back in 2008. This video shows more of his plastic bag work - and some insights from the artist himself.


Or, watch it here.

Our Take: Very cool - this is still the most creative use of plastic bags we've seen!

January 19, 2009

'Trashion' Trend: Dumpster Couture Gets a Boost at Green Inaugural Ball

The Wall Street Journal  1.13.09Obamajacket

In the world of trashy fashion, designer Nancy Judd has hit the big time.

Ms. Judd spends her days in a studio here crafting clothing from castoff plastic bags, electrical wire and old cassette tapes...

The star piece: A man's coat made from Mr. Obama's campaign fliers. She says it took her 200 hours to cut and paste and sew it.

Link:  'Trashion' Trend: Dumpster Couture Gets a Boost at Green Inaugural Ball

October 15, 2008

Plastic-Munching Bugs Turn Waste Bottles Into Cash

Plastic_bugs_2 CBC News 09.15.08

Newly discovered bacterial alchemists could help save billions of plastic bottles from landfills. The Pseudomonas strains can convert the low-grade PET plastic used in drinks bottles into a more valuable and biodegradable plastic called PHA…

"We wanted to see if we could turn the plastic into something of higher value in an environmentally friendly way," [Kevin O’Connor at University College Dublin, Ireleand] says.

Our Take: This interesting lab development will take years to perfect – who knows if it will ever be a viable technology, but we’re seeing more work trying to create organisms that will break down plastic…sounds kinda scary!

BTW, plastic bottles are being turned into cash right now – including many viable fabrics and textiles, like clothing, fiber fill, and bags made out of recycled PET (an innovation that we’ve been offering for years).

Link: Plastic-Munching Bugs Turn Waste Bottles Into Cash

August 06, 2008

Plastic Island - Nasty, Gargantuan & Growing

ReusableBags.com, 08.01.08 Latimes_alteredoceans_3

A couple of websites recently caught our attention, each detailing the Sci-Fi-esque (but very real) floating plastic island located approximately 500 nautical miles off the California coast. "The island" is a grotesquely large patch of floating plastic trash held together by currents stretching across the northern Pacific almost as far as Japan. Discovered by Charles Moore, this "plastic island" is made up of about 7 billion pounds of plastic garbage.

Sea preserves a plastic plague - LA Times 08.03.07

The LA Times produced a fantastic five-part multimedia series on the state of our altered oceans. Part four delves into the “plastic island”, officially called a gyre. This disturbing presentation features great videos, haunting photography and lots of helpful information.
Link: Sea preserves a plastic plague

Plastic patch in pacific grows to twice the size of the US - Daily Kos 02.06.08

Another great site investigating this mess is the Daily Kos. They feature an interview with Marcus Eriksen, one of the research directors at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (the same folks sailing the “Junk Raft”). Eriksen said: "The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as continental United States."
Link: Plastic patch in pacific grows to twice the size of the US

The trash vortex - Greenpeace International 11.12.06Greenpeace_trash_vortex

Greenpeace created this cool, simple visual explaining “the island”—“Plastic trash and other flotsam that is either directly thrown or washed by rivers into the North Pacific, is swept up by the currents of a gigantic swirling vortex called the North Pacific Gyre. In the centre, the calm, just northeast of Hawai’i the result is a trash carpet that scientists calculate has now reached the size of Texas.”
Link: The Trash Vortex

Our Take: There is a similarity between this huge plastic island in the middle of the ocean and the enormity of plastic bag consumption. Scientists can't agree on the size of "the island" just like no one knows exactly how many plastic bags are being produced and consumed. The one thing everyone agrees on is that the scale of both is huge and deserves our attention. This "island" is the direct effect of our overconsumption. By achieving a significant reduction in use-and-toss items, we can actually make a difference. 

April 10, 2008

VIDEO CLIP: Plastic Beaches & Plastic Sand - Yikes!

KHNL NBC Channel 8, Honolulu, HI 11.09.07Khnl_plasticbeach

When our founder was in Hawaii last March, he heard the locals talking about the advent of “Plastic Beaches”. What he learned from them was shocking: a once pristine beach on the southern tip of Hawaii’s Big Island has deteriorated into a polluted mess. Heaps of plastic trash fragments (in places a foot deep) have accumulated here over the years due to the trade winds blowing directly on shore. As the plastic breaks down it is creating a new kind of sand – Plastic Sand. This video demonstrates the pervasive, persistent negative effects plastics are having on our earth. The growing phenomenon of Plastic Beaches and Plastic Sand are a visceral reminder of the downsides of society’s addiction to plastic stuff.

Our Take: We assume a few of you have heard about the “Texas-sized” Plastic Island” off California’s west coast, but how about the disturbing news of plastic beaches and plastic sand?! Plastic is accumulating at an alarming rate in our oceans -- wreaking havoc on wildlife, polluting our beaches and entering our food chain. Watch the video... 

Link: Big Island Beach Attracts Plastic Trash

VIDEO CLIP: Plastic Bag Animals

ReusableBags.com 04.10.08

Thanks to friend of ReusableBags.com, Dave S. for turning us on to this clever artist, Joshua Allen Harris. He has crafted inflatable animals by tying plastic bags to subway grates in New York. The effect is very cool and a bit haunting. 

January 16, 2008

Meet Environmental Superhero... Bagman!

icWales.co.uk 01.12.08

A rubbish superhero is aiming to banish plastic bags. The character, Bagman, has been created by environmental charity Sustainable Wales as part of a drive to rid Porthcawl of unnecessary carrier bags. It is the first step of a campaign called Banish Bridgend’s Plastic Bags, which hopes to stop shops across the area from giving them out.

Our Take: Might be goofy, but stunts like this are helping to raise awareness.

Link: Meet Environmental Superhero... Bagman!

In Line for Hindmarch's Tote

ReusableBags.com 01.17.08

Check out this YouTube video that captures the essence of the mania surrounding last summer's arrival of Anya Hindmarch's much touted "I'm not a Plastic Bag" tote bag. (Great slogan - but a lousy reusable shopping bag.) This 2 minute video tells a simple story of absurdity. The following viewer comment says it all "Wow! It's amazing what we Americans will do..."

Link: In Line for Hindmarch's Tote

Recycling in Israel, Not Just Trash, but the Whole Dump

New York Times 10.24.07Israel_2

An arch made of plastic bottles sits atop Hiriya, a former Tel Aviv dump that is being converted to a recycling-themed park.

Link: Recycling in Israel, Not Just Trash, but the Whole Dump

September 20, 2007

New Eco-Friendly Packaging Triggers Boom In Guilt-Free Littering

The Onion 07.21.07Onion

The growing "green" trend in product packaging, which emphasizes the use of recycled, biodegradable post-consumer paper-based materials and relies less on petroleum-derived polymers like styrofoam, has unleashed a spontaneous trashing of sidewalks, roadsides, and pristine wilderness by gratified consumers. Though some environmentalists and scientists were caught off guard by the movement, experts say it is here to stay.

These 'eco' products are amazing—they've totally changed my life," a 37-year-old Nick Sundin said. "Now, I just toss my used Seventh Generation–brand paper plates out the car window, knowing they'll soon be absorbed into the earth."

Our Take: Some entertaining satire, but not too far off from where society could end up if we blindly pursue biodegradable packaging as the answer (as opposed to consuming less). As we pointed out in an article on biodegradable bags we created a few years ago, "bag littering could easily increase as people start to believe that biodegradable bags are less harmful to the environment..."

Link: New Eco-Friendly Packaging Triggers Boom In Guilt-Free Littering

Man Bags Himself to Promote Reusables

The San Angelo Standard Times 09.08.07

In San Angelo, Egan Sanders is lobbying for increased use of reusable shopping bags instead of the plastic shopping bags that carry so much of the city's groceries to pantries and refrigerators.

He will be spreading his message by enclosing himself for 24 hours in what has been called "the world's largest reusable shopping bag."

BigBag1 is the name for the large canvas bag. It is 8 feet high, 6 feet wide and 5 feet long and was made by the West Texas Lighthouse for the Blind in San Angelo. It will serve as the screen for the movies that will be projected onto it as part of the Plastic Bag Film Festival.

Our Take: Kinda cool / kinda weird. Bottom line: offbeat efforts like this are raising awareness for the issue. If you know of any, be sure to tell us!

Link: Man Bags Himself to Promote Reusables

Plastic Bag Kills Polar Bear??

4kmov.com 08.21.07

Polar bear Churchill, of the Saint Louis Zoo, died during exploratory surgery which revealed that a piece of cloth and pieces of a plastic trash bag had obstructed his digestive tract.

Our Take: We hear a lot about the environmental impacts of plastic bags on animals in the wild - for example, hundreds of thousands of marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food. It's sad that this phenomenon is now being observed in a zoo too. Testament to the pervasive nature of plastic bags in our environment - they are absolutely everywhere!

Link: Plastic Bag Kills Polar Bear??

60,000 Plastic Bags = Consumption Art

ReusableBags.com 09.20.07

Running the Numbers, An American Self PortraitConsumption_art_zoom_out_2 
Wanna see what 60,000 plastic bags looks like (the number used in US every 5 seconds) or 2 million plastic beverage bottles (the number used in the US every five minutes)?....

We discovered this new art series, which looks at contemporary American culture through the use of statistics. Happy to see the artist chose plastic bags and bottles - two issues we are helping to tackle  - to convey his powerful messages. The series of images portrays a specific quantity of something (like 106,000 aluminum cans which represents thirty seconds of can consumption). Since statistics can often feel abstract, the artist’s hope is that these images will have a different impact than just readingConsumption_art_zoom_in the numbers alone. The project visually examines a number of bizarre measure of society, including ones of plastic bags and bottles.

This series will be exhibited at the Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles, opening Sep 8. Click here for more info.

Link: Consumption Art


September 06, 2006

Plastic Bag Spotted in Space

New York Times

20shul With extra inspections showing no problems, NASA managers today cleared the space shuttle Atlantis for a Thursday landing after an extra day in space because of concerns about unexpected debris floating from the ship. NASA delayed a landing set for Wednesday and kept Atlantis in orbit an extra day while engineers tried to determine if a mystery object seen floating nearby indicated possible damage to the spacecraft. The shuttle program director, N. Wayne Hale Jr., said the mystery object unexpectedly seen by shuttle cameras was likely a plastic shim used to separate thermal tiles on the bottom of the orbiter.

Late Tuesday, one of the astronauts aboard Atlantis spotted a second object floating by a window and photographed it. Mr. Hale said the second object appeared to be a plastic bag mistakenly left in the cargo bay before launch. And today, astronauts spotted three other small bits of debris that looked like a piece of foil and plastic rings. Mr. Hale said that such so-called foreign object debris is not uncommon, but that NASA works to eliminate it.

Link: Plastic Bag Spotted in Space. 

September 07, 2005

Fantastic disappearing plastic

Bloomberg

Plastic will survive forever in landfill, or, if it is burnt, as it is in Japan, it can release toxic and carcinogenic particles into the atmosphere.

But a small Australian company called Plantic says it has a solution just add water and the problem will disappear.

The patented formula comprises 90 per cent cornstarch and other organic materials like water, fatty acid and oil...

Plantic conforms to European standard of biodegradability and when placed on the compost heap, it will disappear within three months releasing water into the soil and carbon dioxide into the Air.

Link: Fantastic disappearing plastic.