Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Plastics, Toxicity, and Our Ocean

This weekend, the Living Oceans Society will be a part of the Living Green initiative at the Vancouver Island MusicFest in Courtenay. A large part of this years' Living Green efforts have been centered around the issue of plastic and waste reduction.

Along with many other green initiatives, this year's festival offers: comprehensive sorting, composting and recycling of all site waste; a “Vancouver Island Tap Water” initiative to dramatically reduce plastic water bottle use; new plastics-free policies for food vendors (phase 1); introduction of ‘litterless lunches’ for the volunteer kitchen; and replacement of all kitchen plastics with paper and bio-degradable alternatives.

Plastics don't just end up in our landfills. They also end up in our animals, our bodies, and, yes, our oceans. Watch the video below to see Captain Charles Moore give a TED talk about plastic and its impact on the ecosystem.

Captain Moore doesn't offer any solutions for the damage that has already been done. Now, according to Moore, we can only adjust our current practices before things get any worse. One of the most common suggestions that I have heard from many people advocating environmental protection or healthy living is for us to make more thoughtful everyday choices.

Sometimes, this seemingly simple suggestion is easier said than done. I'll admit that in a few weak or lazy moments, I have chosen the easiest or cheapest option, instead of the most environmentally sustainable. It is certainly not something that I am proud of; and unfortunately I am not the only person on earth who is guilty of poor choices. So where does this leave us?

Maybe, as a society we need a bit of a push to make us change our ways. What if the path toward positive change were to shift and become less towards individual choice and more towards encouraging community leaders, businesses, and governments to make healthy choices the only option?

Want to read more about plastics and toxicity? Check out today's Globe and Mail article, or last week's op-ed in the New York Times.

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