May 21, 2014

The Throwaway Phenomenon

Characterized by the 5 Gyres team as a dangerous cycle of careless consumption, disposal, and contamination, the “throwaway mentality” of today’s consumers is becoming increasingly prevalent and destructive.

Photo taken from 5gyres.org

Once discarded this plastic waste aggregates into immense oceanic whirlpools referred to as “gyres,” and five major ones having been identified worldwide. These slow currents allow hazardous plastic pollution to continue circulating, trapping oceanic contaminants and pollutants, and endangering both marine wildlife and humans. Marine animals are likely to consume this contaminated plastic debris, passing toxic waste on to human consumers of seafood.

In order to combat this large-scale environmental problem, the 5 Gyres Team is working to research the oceanic gyres, educate the public on recycling efforts, inspire legislation on plastic manufacturing and waste, and implement solutions to the plastic pollution problem plaguing the world’s oceans. With the goal of urging our society toward a more sustainable future, the dynamic staff of 5 Gyres collects and analyzes ocean samples, develops curriculum and solutions kits for use in schools, and generally fights the lack of concern surrounding this pressing issue of public health.

To learn more about the problem and possible solutions, click HERE.

To get involved with the 5 Gyres initiative, click HERE.

 


February 16, 2012

The beauty and fragility of reefs

There’s a wonderful blog post right now on NPR by Robert Krulwich, one-half of the amazing team that produces Radiolab (a show that makes science not just accessible but downright captivating).  It talks about sculptors and weavers who’re drawing attention to the beauty and fragility of coral reefs.

This is one of many sculptures by Jason de Caires Taylor, who designs underwater “parks” to relieve tourism from the world’s endangered coral reefs.  His sculptures are made out of pH-neutral cement that’s designed to host undersea life.

A new "White Reef" coral reef crochet by Dr. Axt.

Here’s a crocheted coral reef by an artist pseudonymed “Dr. Axt,” a member of The Institute for Figuring, which strives to create and appreciate the beauty in and of natural and mathematical forms.

Lots more photos and intriguing descriptions on the original blog post over at NPR.

 

 


November 27, 2011

Emily’s crusade against plastics

So, Polly’s post about the Chris Jordan and the Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean makes me want to never use anything plastic ever again.

I feel really inspired by a fellow student’s crusade against plastics.  Seventeen-year-old Emily Chartrand from British Columbia, Canada is working with Team Jordan on their Midway project as a student outreach ambassador.  She’s the president of Plastic Free Penticton Secondary School (amazing!) and a founding member of Plastic Free Penticton. She and her sister have operated their own successful small business for eight years, and the proceeds from their operation have helped fund working holidays to Mexico — where they worked with the families who live off the Puerto Vallarta garbage dump.

She’s available to speak to schools and organizations, and she has a blog.  I like what she says here a lot:

I know that being this actively involved in a cause while so young will not be easy. I have already faced many hard times that made me consider stopping everything I do but I now better understand that this is way too important to me and the world. I’m in this forever. I promise you all that! So as I go continue on my journey please keep checking back on my blog. I’m going to have some very interesting stories about travelling elsewhere to speak about plastic pollution!

You can keep up with Plastic Free Penticton on Facebook.  So do it!


November 27, 2011

Christopher Jordan: “Midway”

Much of artist Christopher Jordan’s artwork deals with consumption, sustainability, and the environment. His series of photos from the Midway Atoll islands (in the Pacific Ocean, about 1000 miles north of Hawaii) took my breath away:

From “Midway: Message from the Gyre,” Christopher Jordan (2009-current)

Maybe you’ve heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the giant “landfill” in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Well, the Midway Atoll is located near its apex and is a longtime wildlife refuge where albatrosses go to mate and feed their young.

This photo essay is like an environmental autopsy of the baby albatrosses that die after their parents try to forage the Pacific Ocean for food, and come back with only detritus to feed their young.   These haunting images won the prestigious French Prix Pictet  in March 2011.

Jordan and several collaborators are producing a documentary film about this phenomenon, too, called simply MIDWAY.  The filmmakers write:

The islands are literally covered with plastic garbage, illustrating on several levels the interconnectedness and interdependence of the systems on our finite planet [...]

And so it is here, sitting halfway between the consumers of North America and the consumers of Asia, that we get to stop and consider some of the unintentional consequences of growth, and the responsibilities that we have for our planet.

 


November 9, 2011

Protect what you love

People who surf and raft and mountain bike are maybe sort of adrenaline junkies? But a lot of outdoor sports enthusiasts get intense about environmental activism, too. It makes total sense to me to try and respect and care for the outdoor terrain you love the most.

Surfrider protects oceans and beaches.  Protect Our Winters (with the awesome acronym, POW) raises awareness about the effect of climate change on high-altitude regions like mountains.

The Access Fund keeps all kinds of outdoor climbing areas open and conserves climbing environments.  The International Mountain Biking Association creates and preserves trails, and encourages low-impact riding, volunteering, and thinking of new trail management solutions.  And American Whitewater advocates for the preservation and protection of rivers in the US.

Chances are if you have a hobby or an activity you’re really into, there’s a way to get involved with an organization that can connect you to other people and do good for the environment.

So go hang ten and drink some X-treme beverages!   (That link really makes me laugh.)

 


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