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Case Studies and Resources

Combating Plastic in the Ocean

It was a beautiful weekend, so I decided to take my dogs for a nice walk along the intracoastal.  I have always loved the ocean, it is my place to relax and just be in the moment, and it makes me feel connected to everything.  Imagine my sadness when I saw this:

trashinwater.jpgSo much trash floating in the water, chip bags, plastic, clothing, you name it, it’s floating.  One would think that in today’s world we would be more conscience of how litter affects our environment.  This is a busy park, with a boat ramp, that is so busy on the weekends with boaters and fishermen that you are lucky to find parking.  There are trash cans every few feet, there is even a Coast Guard station right next to the boat ramp, and still, the debris finding its way into the water is mind blowing.

This sight set the tone for the rest of my weekend and I wanted to explore ways and ideas that are out there to clean up the mess, that is safe for our marine life and for us.  While surfing around the internet I came across an article about a young man named Boyan Slat, at 19 years old he came up with an idea that could potentially clean the plastic out of the ocean in only 10 years – the original idea claimed 5, but has been changed based on further research.  One of the most mind blowing bits is that it would also turn a $500 million profit.  His paper was published and won prize after prize including the Best Technical Design 2012 from the Delft University of Technology.

Slat and some others started a non-profit organization called The Ocean Cleanup Foundation to fundraise and spread awareness.  Their current goal is to be up and running by 2020.

Boyan Slat speaking at TEDxDelft

After listening to him speak, I have to conclude that he is really onto something.  Education can only go so far in making a difference.  There comes a time that action is preferable.

 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the ocean from the land each year. That's equivalent to about 1.5 million cars.

  1. Jambeck, Science

A wonderful site to look at for ideas on how to be friendlier to our ocean environment, while still enjoying it, is Sailors for the Sea. There is a lot of information as well as green boating tips and some fun activities for the kids.

Then, as I am sitting here writing this blog, and eating my delivered breakfast, I look down at the Styrofoam container, filled with small plastic containers and single use plastic silverware and realize – I am part of the problem too.  For all the education and research I have put into being more eco-friendly, and producing less waste, my breakfast alone produced a huge amount. 

I go out to eat a lot, whether dine in or carry out, and I am still amazed by the number of eating establishments that give out plastic bags to their customers.  If you are going to use plastic bags, then create a “bring back” program to accept the bags back the next time your customer’s come to your establishment.  Encouraging your customers to bring the bags back does two things, it brings them back to your business, and it helps reduce the amount of plastic that is going to landfills and transfer stations due to your businesses recycling initiatives.

If you own or run a supermarket, look into pricing out paper products made with post-consumer recycled materials as opposed to plastic bags.  Most convenience stores have a hot food counter with Styrofoam containers, there are biodegradable containers that can replace the Styrofoam at close to the same price.

It is time we all start thinking of how we can do something better for the global economy.  If you need information on how to create less waste in your business, give us a call.  We would be more than happy to sit down with you and help you find the best options for your business.

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Topics: waste management plastic pollution waste cleanup recycling plastic plastic waste