This blog started as an outcry against plastic pollution. My journey to educate myself about the devastating impact our throw away society is having on the planet has led me to uncover the deeper root of the problem which is our illusion that somehow we are separate from nature. I believe that the only solution to ending the wholesale destruction of nature is to reignite reverence for the land and begin to understand again that earth is the sacred provider of life. We will only save or care about what we love. Let's fall in love with the earth, her oceans, rivers, forests, flowers, animals, and people. In our collective wonder, appreciation and action we can protect and restore what still remains of her beauty.

Gratitude | Louie Schwartzberg

"Beauty and seduction are nature's tools for survival, because we protect what we fall in love with.  It opens our hearts and makes us realize we are part of nature and we're not separate from it.  We are connected to a universe that celebrates life.  Each day that's given to you is a Gift.  If you do nothing else but cultivate the response of Gratitude then each day is well lived"

This video is pure truth and beauty.  It speaks exactly to what I have been expressing on this blog from the beginning.  Enjoy the heart opening that it offers. 

Global Earth Exchange | Radical Joy Bird

Pictured above: Radical Joy Bird made from found plastic pieces next to a dead shore bird. Placed on ancient native American shell midden on polluted beach Richmond. Layering of ancient and contemporary- eternal and ephemeral refuse.

Having compassion for the unloved parts of ourselves and the world is the first step to healing. This is what this wonderful organization Radical Joy for Hard Times is teaching us: embrace the sad and unloved places and you offer them the space to heal. I recently took part in their Global Earth Exchange where I went out to a place in nature that is neglected and polluted, created some art and offered the spirit of the place a bit of love.

Here's a quote from their work:
"We╩╝re all aware of the damage that pollution, mining, urban development, and other environ-mental assaults do to the places we love. Yet still we feel deeply connected to these places. It is by actually seeking out these wounded places, sharing our stories, and opening ourselves to the possibility of finding and making beauty there that we transform both ourselves and the place. We do this through a simple, yet deeply meaningful process called the Earth Exchange.
We call it an Earth Exchange because in the process of enacting it, an exchange is made between people and place. People receive meaning and beauty from a place they might previously have seen as spoiled or even worthless, and the place receives compassion and creativity from the people who care about it."

The beach where I made these Radical Joy Birds is just near my house in Richmond. On a recent day of trying to clean up the garbage on the beach I was totally disheartened by the futility of my efforts. How could it possibly make any difference at all, it's never ending! I know that any real positive change in our environment has to start from within us. I realized that the polluted beach is so deeply connected our inner pollution. This is what we've manifested by being so disconnected from nature. Doing this Earth Exchange and actions like it help to heal this disconnection on a deeper spiritual level and has really given me some feeling of being empowered and hopeful. I know that when we notice the beauty in nature, even in the saddest places, Mother Earth smiles upon us with infinite appreciation that she's not forgotten.


Pictured here: this Radical Joy Bird is made from sharp pieces of rusted metal I found here. The heavy winds we've had lately uncovered lot's of this rusted metal I've never see before here. It's very sharp and dangerous.
Above: My radical joy doggie- always showing me how to love being in nature

Water Deva



"Water is a Deva- a divine being who offers her body to be used as the basis of life" says PR Tigunait, a Tantric scholar. Reading these words in the recent Yoga Journal set me adrift to contemplate on this lovely thought. Water does have a magical essence: healing, invigorating, meditative, cleansing, sacred and beautiful beyond description. I've always been drawn like a magnet to the great source of all water, the sea. Something about it gives me a feeling of expansiveness, peace and belonging, as if she were a mother or a goddess calling me home to myself. After a recent diving experience I said to my husband that I felt completely renewed like I'd been baptized again. There's just no other feeling like being in the expansive blue full body caressing embrace of water. The myriad wild wonders revealed beneath her blue cloak are so infinitely marvelous.

Throughout my life the sea has soothed me, supported me and celebrated with me. Perhaps replacing the mother that I lost when far too young. The fact is we wouldn't exist without precious, beautiful water. How heartbreaking then to know how polluted and abused water all over the world is today. She is sick and suffering in a toxic mix of chemicals, oil, radiation, garbage and plastic. Why do we use water sources as a dumping ground for what we don't want to have or see anymore? Don't we know that by poisoning it we are poisoning ourselves? Perhaps it's time to start revering water as the divine being that it is. I owe water my life and wish I could protect it, but fear it's too late. On this earth day I send a prayer out into the world that we will start to honor the sacred source of life itself. In my dream for the planet I throw my arms around the oceans and return that tight embrace hoping to give back just a drop of what the divine water Deva has given me.




Midway's Albatrosses Survive the Tsunami (but will they survive the plastic tsunami?)



By Brandon Keim Email Author

The famed albatrosses of Midway Atoll took a beating from the tsunami, but their population will survive, say biologists on the islands.
There are, of course, more pressing concerns in the tsunami’s aftermath than wildlife, and some might balk at paying attention to birds right now. But compassion isn’t a zero-sum game, and Midway Atoll is one of Earth’s natural treasures: 2.4 square miles of coral ringing a deep-sea mountaintop halfway between Honolulu and Tokyo, a flyspeck of dry land that’s home to several million seabirds.

Roughly two-thirds of all Laysan albatrosses live on Midway’s two islands, as do one-third of all black-footed albatrosses, and about 60 people. Many of them work at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. They had time to prepare for the tsunami, which struck late on the night of March 10. Nobody was hurt; after the waves receded, they checked on the wildlife.
An estimated 1,000 Laysan adults were killed, and tens of thousands of chicks, said Refuge official Barry Stieglitz. Those figures represent just the first wave of mortality, as adults who were at sea when the tsunami hit may be unable to find their young on returning. Chicks now wandering on shore may be doomed — but in the long run, the population as a whole will recover.
“The loss of all these chicks is horrible. It’s going to represent a significant portion of this year’s Laysan albatross hatch. But in terms of overall population health, the most important animals are the proven, breeding adults,” said Stieglitz. “In the long term, the greatest impact would be if we lost more adults. The population should come through this just fine.”
On a sadder note, however, one of the wandering chicks is the first short-tailed albatross to hatch on Midway in decades. The species was hunted to near-extinction in the 19th century, its feathers so fashionable that a population of millions was reduced to a handful of juveniles who stayed at sea during the carnage. (Young short-tailed albatrosses live in the open ocean for several years before mating.) About 3,000 of the species now survive, and a few have recently made a home on Midway.
“If the chick lost one parent, it could be in danger. If it lost both, it’s definitely out of luck,” Stieglitz said.
Another well-known avian denizen of Midway is Wisdom, a 60-year-old female Laysan albatross. Banded for identification in 1956, Wisdom is the oldest known wild bird. In February, she was spotted rearing a new chick.



“When I gaze at Wisdom, I feel as though I’ve entered a time machine,” wrote U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist John Klavitter in an email. “My mind races to the past and all the history she has observed through time.”

Midway’s Laysan albatrosses feed in waters off Alaska, flying about 50,000 miles each year as adults. Wisdom has flown between 2 and 3 million miles in her lifetime, compensating for age with smarts and efficiency. She hasn’t been spotted since the tsunami, but Stieglitz said the biologists haven’t looked for her yet. Wisdom’s nest is on high ground. They’re not too worried about her.

Mardi Gras In NOLA = Below Sea Level Plastic Garbage


Mardi Gras In NOLA = Below Sea Level Plastic Garbage

By Stiv Wilson on March 10, 2011
(Photo by Patrick Semansky, NOLA)


Wow. This is one of those times when you think about celebration, you think about consequence, you think about excess, you think about consumerism, you think about the fact that there are fewer than 500 people in the world working on oceanic plastic issues full time and you kind of freak out.

We have a long way to go in this movement. For all the inspiration, good work and good people sometimes the monster we fight shows his face and we're all taken aback. But never say die. Support us. Please. http://5gyres.org/

TEDx Great Pacific Garbage Patch Conference | Van Jones- Environmentalism=Social Justice

This video is from the TEDx Great Pacific Garbage Patch conference which took place last November in LA. There were over 30 illuminating speakers who shared amazing information about plastic and pollution but this one in particular stood out for me. Van Jones, a brilliant environmental advocate and civil rights activist- author of "Green Collar Economy" linked environmentalism to social justice unlike anyone I've heard. The idea is so simple: the moral challenge of the movement to stop plastic waste must go hand in hand with the entire mindset of disposability which also effects the under classes. The issues of the high percentage of incarceration of the poor and impoverished communities that are degraded and polluted like Cancer Alley in Louisiana, are evidence of the interconnection of poverty and pollution in our throw away society. The concept of Biomimicry -respect for the wisdom of all species- is actually a social justice idea like democracy which is respecting the wisdom of all people. You can't have one without the other.

We don't have to pick just one issue to care about- whether we will hug a tree or hug a child- we have two arms and can hug both. Thank you Van Jones!

One Plastic Beach | Richard and Judith Lang


One Plastic Beach from Tess Thackara on Vimeo.
Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang have been collecting plastic debris off one beach in Northern California for over ten years. Each piece of plastic Richard and Judith pick up comes back to their house, where it gets cleaned, categorized and stored before being used for their art. The couple make sculptures, prints, jewelry and installations with the plastic they find washed up, raising a deeper concern with the problem of plastic pollution in our seas.

To learn more about their work, visit:
www.beachplastic.com/​
www.plasticforever.blogspot.com/​
Camera / Edit - Eric Slatkin
Producer - Tess Thackara

Plastic Pollution Coalition | Get Started Advice for 2011

Disposable plastic items are so common that it’s easy to not notice them. But disposable plastic is everywhere– the plastic straws delivered in our drinks; the plastic bags offered to us at stores; the plastic cups, bottles and utensils at nearly every social event; the plastic packaging of nearly everything in the supermarket. Once you see it for what it is—plastic pollution—it’s simple to just REFUSE. Here are some tips on how to avoid generating plastic waste.

1. Water

  • Bring a stainless steel water bottle rather than drinking water out of disposable plastic bottles. Purchase our cool water bottle in red, stainless steel or black at BuyGreen or grab one at just about any store. Just make sure it is not aluminum.
  • Don’t have your stainless steel bottle with you? Buy a glass-bottled drink. When you finish that beverage, reuse the bottle.

2. Bring Your Own Bag

Always bring your own bags whenever you shop, not just for the supermarket. By bringing your own bag, you alone can save between 400 and 600 plastic bags per year.
There are lots of cool tote bag companies out there. Just a few of the bags we like:

  • Citizenlove - designs by our co-founder Dianna Cohen
  • Envirosax – very popular in Europe
  • Chico bags – wonderful, small and easy to carry around in lots of colors

3. Straws

Consider some easy alternatives to the ubiquitous plastic straws.

4. To Go Cups

Bring your own ceramic or stainless steel mug. Carry one in your car. Some coffee shops will even reward your thoughtfulness with a small discount on coffee or tea.

5. To Go Food Containers

Whether you prepare school lunch, order takeout or go out to eat, take along your own reusable containers. Some of the sites where you can purchase one:

6. To Go Utensils

Bring along your own utensil set, add a straw and you are all set! You can purchase sets online at To-Go Ware.

7. Lighters

Rather than buy plastic disposable lighters, consider investing in a refillable multi-use lighters. The oceans of the world and the albatross chicks who are fed these from out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean will thank you.

8. Milk

Buy your milk in a glass returnable, reusable bottle… old fashioned, but tastes great and it’s better for you. Many health food markets and farmers markets carry milk in glass bottles.

9. Choose Paper to Wrap

Wax paper is an excellent substitute to the ubiquitous stretch plastic we have been told is essential for cooking and preserving foods. Choose wax paper to wrap sandwiches, place on top of foods warmed up in the microwave, or when storing food in the fridge. Yes, it does not stick to foods like plastic – that’s exactly what’s good about it!

10. Ready to do more?

Washed up FlipFlops


Here's a bit of good news. We've all seen them. Discarded flip flops washed up on beaches. Well, in several places around the world like Kenya and the Philippines they are collected and crafted into doormats and toys the sales of which are actually supporting many local economies. Here's the info below:

Flip flops: Inexpensive. Everywhere. Easily replaceable. But where do old flip flops go when they die? And what happens to the excess foam rubber from flip flop factories? There is actually an interesting (and sustainable) answer out there.

Many products on WorldofGood.com are made by cleaning and reusing material that were discarded as trash. Colorful handmade doormats keep foam rubber wastes out of landfills by transforming them into tough but lightweight doormats. The mats are lightweight and durable, constructed by hand using galvanized metal and scrap flip flops that would have otherwise gone to landfill.

Here's another scenario you can read about: On the islands of the Lamu Archipelago, off Kenya’s northern coast in the Indian Ocean, artisans use flip flop debris that washes up on the shore to make crafts - useful ones, too, including handbags, lampshades, hair clips, necklaces, toys, and curtains.

These upcycled flip flop products are an inspiring glimpse into the small yet important solutions to the giant issue of marine debris.

FUTURESTATE: Plastic Bag by Ramin Bahrani


Existential, poetic and provocative, the journey of a plastic bag like you've never seen before. Glimpse into a life of the most ubiquitous thing on earth. Voiced over by the ever intriguing Werner Herzog.

Fake Plastic Fish's 2009 Plastic Resolution

Here's my inspiration in action! Beth Terry shows the real ways we can all make a difference in our home environment. I've implemented some changes this year: all tips from Beth that have reduced my garbage load. Here are just a few:

1.I make my own soy milk now thus taking about 52 cartons out of the land fill each year.
2.Started composting all our food scraps.
3.Make an effort to purchase bulk foods like cereal and rice to cut down on packaging.
4.On top of bringing my own bags for shopping I also have some great reusable produce bags. Stopped using plastic bags entirely.
5.Select products not packaged in plastic if there is a choice.
6. Started this blog to help spread the word.


Thank you Beth for helping us all to become more plastic aware!



Midway. Message from the Gyre | Photography by Chris Jordan

**VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED: THESE FILMS MAY CHANGE YOUR CONSUMPTION HABITS**

This is it folks... Think about what you're using, buying and throwing away. Plastic is forever and it's not all going to the landfill. It's out there floating in the ocean, millions of tons of it. It's not food. But birds and fish don't know any better. It's killing and poisoning. An innocuous cap to a milk jug, an every day lighter, a toothbrush. We've got to find a better way to live, not at the expense of so many other creatures. They have rights too... their future depends on us. Just say no to disposable plastic.
"Am I part of the cure or am I part of the disease" Coldplay



This is the trailer for their upcoming film

The Midway Journey

A team of artists are currently documenting and filming the environmental catastrophe of Midway Atoll. I've covered this issue here on my blog so you can scroll down for pictures and information. I so look forward to seeing the film and any other media that comes out of this project. With the brilliant artist Chris Jordan behind the camera no doubt it will be incredible.

The following is a quote from their blog which is updated daily. The Midway Journey

"Midway Atoll, one of the remotest islands on earth, is a kaleidoscope of geography, culture, human history, and natural wonder. It also serves as a lens into one of the most profound and symbolic environmental tragedies of our time: the deaths by starvation of thousands of albatrosses who mistake floating plastic trash for food.

Five media artists, led by photographer Chris Jordan, are traveling to Midway to witness the catastrophic effect of our disposable culture on some of the world’s most beautiful and symbolic creatures. But even more, they are embarking on an introspective journey to confront a vitally relevant question: In this time of unprecedented global crisis, how can we move through grief, denial, despair and immobility into new territories of acceptance, possibility, and wise action?"

The Bay vs. The Bag



This video by Save the Bay is fantastic! Please enjoy it's potent message...


"Plastic bags pollute our waters, smother wetlands and entangle and kill animals. In fact, approximately one million plastic bags pollute San Francisco Bay each year. Trash Bay flows into the ocean to join the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is a floating island of trash estimated at twice the size of Texas where plastic particles are more abundant than plankton."

Did you know?

* Up to 90% of floating debris is plastic, which never biodegrades.
* Plastic trash has entangled, suffocated, or poisoned at least 267 known animal species worldwide.
* A study found an average of three pieces of trash along every foot of streams leading to San Francisco Bay – half of which is plastic.
* 1.37 million plastic bags were removed from coastal areas worldwide on just one day.

SavetheBay.org

In the News~ Australian town Bans Plastic Water Bottles

Check out this article in the Yahoo news today!! (in my opinion: if we can't ban bottled water then I would go as far to suggest an "environmental destruction tax" on them. Or something like carbon offset credits for their use)
Australian town set to ban bottled water AFP/File – An Australian town is set to ban bottled water over concerns about its environmental impact, in what …

"We believe Bundanoon is the world's first town that has got its retailers to ban bottled water. We haven't found it anywhere else."

Local opinion was incensed when beverage company Norlex Holdings announced plans to tap an underground reservoir in the town, truck the water up to Sydney and then send it back in bottled form."The company has been looking to extract water locally, bottle it in Sydney and bring it back here to sell it again," said Dee."It made people look at the environmental impact of bottled water and the community has been quite vocal about it."

Dee, whose Do Something group was instrumental in a plastic bags ban in Coles Bay, Tasmania, said he hoped the ban would make people think twice about buying bottled water.

"It's possible it will extend to other places. The main idea is to get people thinking about their usage of bottled water -- we're spending about half a billion dollars on it here in Australia," he said.Retailers in the New South Wales town, south of Sydney, have already agreed to stop stocking bottled water.

Activists say bottling water causes unnecessary use of plastics and fuel for transport. A New South Wales study found that in 2006, the industry was responsible for releasing 60,000 tonnes of gases blamed for global warming.

*Please enjoy the related post by Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish about bottled water.

Let's Trash Plastic Bags!

Plastic bags have invaded our planet like a plague. Each year the world uses somewhere near to 500 billion plastic bags out of which the US uses an estimated 100 billion- equivalent to 12 million barrels of oil.

Only about 2% of these bags are recycled.

Most are used just to bring an item home from the store and then thrown away into a landfill to last for another 1000 years! They are everywhere in the environment; fluttering like flags of surrender from trees and city structures and filling the oceans killing sea life in untold numbers. These innocent looking convenience items are killers because they break down into tiny, toxic particles that have become a ubiquitous part of our environment. They just shouldn't be an option anymore. (period)

Probably the worst design idea ever, no?






I recently attended a film festival in Monterey organized by Sea Studios Foundation. The theme? Plastic and the ocean. All the films were powerful and enlightening. I met many people passionately involved in the fight to reduce our plastic waste. There will be more to share about what I learned in other posts. I've included a clip here from their award winning series Strange Days on Planet Earth. Below is a quote from their blog.

"Do you know where our plastic goes?

Did you know that our oceans are filling up with plastic pollution?
Plastic fragments contaminate even the most remote locations on earth, and harmful chemicals leached by plastics are present in the bloodstream and tissues of almost every one of us.
Plastic pollution harms people, animals, and the environment. Plastic is not biodegradable. In the marine environment, plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that absorb toxic chemicals, are ingested by wildlife, and enter the food chain that we depend on.
Consumption of throwaway plastics, such as bottles, containers, bags, and packaging, has spiraled out of control.
Recycling is not a sustainable solution. The reality is that most of our plastic waste is landfilled, downcycled or exported to other countries. And tragically, millions of tons of plastic are poisoning our oceans.
Businesses and governments need to take responsibility for new ways to design, recover and dispose of plastics.
Plastic pollution is the visible symbol of our global crisis of over-consumption. Let's pledge to shift our societies away from the disposable habits that poison our oceans and land, eliminate our consumption of throwaway plastics, and begin embracing a culture of sustainability.
Our health, our children, and the survival of future generations depend on us."

www.SeaStudios.com

www.droptheplasticbag.org

Plastic Plague ~ Strange Day's on Planet Earth

Ninety percent of the worlds magestic Albatross nest in the Midway Atoll off Northwest Hawaii. They fly up to 1000 miles to forage and fish for food. The great Pacific garbage patch is their feeding ground. This is what they come home with and feed their young. All the plastic pieces pictured here came out of the stomach of one bird. There is no room left for food and they die. Baby chicks are unwittingly being fed a diet of toxic plastic and of course don't survive. I can't think of anything more disturbing. Is this what you'd feed your young? We may not be spoon feeding our children plastic bits but the microscopic chemicals are certainly coming back up the food chain into our bodies. These birds are the "canaries in the coal mine" giving their lives to show us what we're doing to the planet.

The carcass of an albatross belly full of plastic, a good portion of which are plastic bottle caps.
(Aveda has a program now that recycles bottle caps since regular recycling programs don't. Please drop them off at your local Aveda retailer.)

Please watch this informative and critical video narrated by Edward Norton that highlights the plight of this beautiful bird.

TOXIC - GARBAGE ISLAND | Great Pacific Garbage Vortex

This is the first video I saw about the Pacific Garbage Patch. It absolutely horrified me. My eyes were opened and I knew I had to make some changes in my own life. It's unimaginable.... Our oceans are a plastic soup... we have changed the composition of the oceans, carelessly creating this environmental disaster with our throw away lifestyle of non-biodegradeable garbage. Thank you to this small film crew who documented their journey. The entire film is a must watch. You can find all 12 parts here: http://www.babelgum.com/130302/toxic-garbage-island-part-9-12.html

Sociable

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