All Posts for Pollution

Lifestyle: Plastic Water Bottles and Traveling Don’t Mix

May 3rd, 2012

As reported by BBC, plastic water bottle waste is a growing problem around the world and tourism is largely to blame. While traveling abroad, individuals tend to leave their reusable bottle at home and use as many five to six plastic water bottles a day.

Plastic bottles, made of petroleum-based plastic (a non-biodegradable material), are accumulating everywhere- our streets, parks, beaches, rivers, and oceans. This contributes to the existing problem of floating plastic debris in the pacific ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

In effort to combat the plastic waste dilemma, some tourism destinations have “banned the bottle”. In 2010, Italy’s Cinque Terre national park, located along the beautiful Mediterranean coast, banned plastic water bottles. Early this year, the US National Park Service banned the sale of plastic water bottles at Grand Canyon National Park where bottles accounted for 20% of the park’s waste.

Franco Bonanini, president of Italy’s Cinque Terre national park, told London’s Telegraph newspaper 3 million annual tourists are responsible for the park’s waste. “With so many visitors, the footpaths and villages of the Cinque Terre are at risk of being transformed into a great big open-air dustbin,” he said.

 

Pictured is a water refilling station at Grand Canyon National Park

What you can do
Here are 5 easy steps to reduce your plastic footprint while abroad:

1. Carry your own reusable bottle. Fill it up with fresh water whenever you can.

2. Some eco-friendly hotels offer water-filling stations. If not, some hotels may be willing to boil water for you on request. Check to see what your hotel has to offer.

4. Buy big water containers to keep in your hotel room and refill your bottles. That way you’ll only use one water bottle rather than 5 to 6 a day.

5. You can even treat tap water with your own purification device. Lightweight devices, such as ultraviolet light purifiers, don’t leave an aftertaste.

Happy travels! : )

Earth Day 2012: The Top 5 Threats to Our Oceans, Part Two

April 22nd, 2012

Continued from Part One, focused on Overfishing and Marine Pollution. Read part one here.

Climate Change

Several studies have shown that in the past century our planet has seen climate change and warming unlike any other time in recent history. While this has many effects on land, such as more erratic weather patterns, it effects the oceans in two main ways: sea temperature and sea level rise.

In the past century, the temperature of the ocean has raised 0.18°F (0.1°C). Factors such as ozone depletion and increased solar activity contribute to this rise. As the surface of the water absorbs heat and the temperature rises. Some sub-tropical seas have shown a 1 degree surface temperature rise in the past half-century.

Warmer than usual marine environments also give way to marine invasive species. That is, species that do not typically inhabit a given area but with abnormal temperatures can survive in the new environment. These species can deplete a once healthy ecosystem by introducing disease and competing for food.

As ocean water warms, it expands. Due to increased sea temperature, the sea level is rising. Ice melting on land also contributes to the rise in sea level. Sea levels are expected to rise between 2.5 and 6.5 feet by 2100, a level that would swamp many cities along the East Coast of the U.S. There are other more dire scenarios some environmental scientists believe to be possible. Such as, if the Greenland ice sheet were to completely melt, the sea level could rise up to 23 feet, enough to submerge London and Los Angeles.

Ocean Acidification

Above-normal sea temperature is a contributing factor to coral bleaching. Ocean acidification also plays a major part. Over the last 250 years, the ocean has absorbed 530 billion tons of CO2 which has increased ocean acidity by 30%. Under these harmful circumstances, once healthy coral loses its algae pigmentation and expels zooxanthellae, causing it to turn white.

Acidity reduces carbonate- the mineral used to form the shells of many species such as lobster and mussels as well as smaller species which the food chain heavily depends on.

Due to ocean acidification, coral reefs are depleting twice as fast as rainforests.

Marine Habitat Loss and Destruction

70% of the world is covered by the ocean, yet only .6% of our worlds oceans are protected.

Factors such as overfishing, coral bleaching, boating, oil spills and other industrial pollution all cause serious damage to our oceans. Coral reefs bare most the brunt of marine habitat loss. Over 15% of the worlds coral reefs have already been lost. 30% of those still existing are directly threatened by human impacts.

Costal development can lead to runoff and erosion that is harmful to the surrounding marine area. This occurs all along our coastlines, small island developments and coastal swamps and marshes.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are similar to National Parks on land. While they are not closed off completely to human activity, they only allow a certain minimal and regulated presence.

Hope everyone has a great Earth Day and celebrates it in their own way. We encourage you to share our Earth Day 2012 page. For every share, we at Seathos will collect 1 lb of trash from our local beach in Venice, CA.

Earth Day 2012: The Top 5 Threats to Our Oceans, Part One

April 20th, 2012

The tireless and iconic ocean conservationist and activist Sylvia Earle has said that “what we do or fail to do in the next 10 years will have a magnified impact on the next 10,000 years.” This is a call to arms of sorts, a plea to shed ignorance and indifference and learn more about the dangers our oceans face, influencing us all to take positive steps towards helping to heal our oceans, rather than cause them more harm.

To celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd, Seathos is raising awareness of the top five threats our oceans face today: Overfishing, pollution, climate change, ocean acidification and marine habitat loss.

Overfishing

Our oceans are not an endless bounty of food, but they are being treated as such. Currently, 75% of the world’s fishstocks are fished faster than they can reproduce. More than 3.5 billion people depend on the ocean for their primary source of food. In 20 years, this number will double to 7 billion.

Not only does overfishing deplete once thriving marine ecosystems, but it is also has a direct negative impact on the human race as well. Abundant fish populations are vital to the survival of millions of people who depend on seafood production for food and jobs. With a growing human population and dwindling fish stocks, over fishing jeopardizes the livelihoods of many.

Pollution

Trash, chemicals, fertilizers and other harmful contaminants find their way into the ocean every minute of every day. Various factors contribute to water pollution, such as improper disposal of industrial waste, marine dumping, sewage, wastewater and agricultural runoff.

Marine litter is now 60-80% plastic, and can reach 90% in certain areas. Over 100,000 marine mammals and 1,000,000 seabirds die each year from ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic.

Plastic particles, some large, some microscopic, are scattered all throughout the ocean, but perhaps the most startling evidence of marine plastic pollution is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a gyre of marine litter located in the North Pacific. The gyre’s exact size is debatable, but studies have ranged from sizing it between twice the size of Hawaii and as large as the entire continental United States.

Head on over to Seathos’ Earth Day 2012 Campaign page and take part in our 1 for 1 pledge. For every share the page receives the Seathos team will collect 1lb of trash from our local beach in Venice, CA.

Stay tuned for Part Two, highlighting climate change, ocean acidification and marine habitat loss.

Marine Pollution and Water Scarcity WWD 2012

March 21st, 2012

For the past couple of weeks Sea•thos has been buzzing about World Water Day 2012! Many people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water. It turns out that protecting the health of our oceans can actually help conserve water and ensure that the whole world will have enough to drink! Here is how:

Water Scarcity

WWD celebrates water and aims to spread awareness about water scarcity

- 884 million (approx. one in eight) people around the world lack access to safe drinking water

-At least 400 million people worldwide live in areas with severe water shortages

-In Africa alone, people (mainly women and children) spend 40 billion hours per year walking to the nearest source of water

Reduce Pollution
By reducing pollution, we can limit the amount of waste entering our marine systems (oceans, rivers, lakes etc.) and ensure the availability of clean drinking water for the whole world:

-3.575 million people, including 1.4 million children, die each year from water-related disease

-About 33% of the toxic contaminants in the ocean are a result of air pollution; 44% are a result of runoff from rivers and streams

-
90% of waste water in developing countries is discharged into rivers and streams without any treatment eventually leading to the ocean


 

Get a reusable water bottle
 By ditching plastic we can reduce marine pollution and conserve water.

-80 to 90% of marine pollution is plastic debris

-It takes about 1.5 gallons of water to make a plastic bottle

-$100 billion is spent on bottled water annually. Just a quarter of that amount would provide access to safe drinking water to the whole planet! (onedrop.org)

Join in the celebration! Visit our World Water Day page to participate, watch videos, and enter to win a free Lifefactory water bottle!

An Eco-friendly Lent! :)

February 23rd, 2012

Today is Ash Wednesday which, in the Catholic Tradition, marks the first day of Lent- a 40 day period (February 22 2012- April 7 2012) of fasting, repentance, charity, and sacrifice for observant Catholics. Lent is also considered a time of change and reflection on one’s life.

Many Catholics choose to “give something up for Lent” which means that they are observing the tradition of sacrifice. If you’re Catholic and are pondering on how to spend Lent, or if you are just looking for ways to help the planet, here are some fun, eco-friendly ideas for Lent and any time of the year!

1. Conserve water
Water is a very important resource which, sadly, is becoming scarce due to over consumption. Did you know that a measly four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water?!

We can do our part to conserve water by spending less time in the shower,  turning off the shower head/faucet when you are not using it, and choosing foods that require less water input. One very important awareness event coming up, which happens to fall during Lent, is World Water Day on March 22, 2012.

World Water Day (WWD) is an event that calls all global citizens to address the issues of food and water scarcity by making better consumption choices. Many do not know that most of the water we drink comes from the food we eat. Global water and food supplies are dwindling causing billions to starve.

Meanwhile, 30% of all food produced is never eaten and is wasted along with the water that went into its production. By conserving water, choosing food that requires less water input, and not wasting food, we can fight world hunger and other resource issues.

2.Ban Plastics!
1,000,000 seabirds are dying every year by ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic
86% of turtles, 43% of seabirds, and 44% of marine mammals have plastic in their guts

Plastics are filling up landfills, clogging our oceans, and causing marine life to suffer :(
To reduce plastic consumption, remember to bring your own bag to retail stores, use a reusable water bottle, and avoid using other single-use plastic items (plastic cups, spoons, forks etc.)

3. Recycle!
Similar to the previous tip, recycling properly and often can keep trash out of landfills and out of the ocean! Sometimes it is difficult to know which plastics are recyclable and which are not. Check out our Plastics 101 on how to recycle properly!

4. Conserve Energy
Unplug electric items such as your cell phone charger when you’re not using them, and remember to switch off the lights before you leave a room! Another event that falls during Lent is Earth Hour on March 31st, 2012. Everyone across the globe is encouraged to turn off all lights for one hour to acknowledge that Earth’s precious resources are running out and to show commitment to building a sustainable planet.

5. Eat Sustainable Seafood on Fridays!
During Lent, Catholics abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays until Easter as a form of fasting. While shying away from meat, try to go a step further and choose seafood that was harvested sustainably.  Here are our sustainable seafood guides to accompany you: Sustainable Seafood Guide, Sustainable Sushi Guide

Good luck to all on their life journey! <3

New EPA Regulations Allow for 1 in 28 Beachgoers to Get Sick

February 13th, 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency has released newly proposed beach pollution regulations that should leave any beachgoer feeling a little queasy.

Under the new guidelines, the proposal allows for a startling 1 in 28 swimmers to experience some form of gastrointestinal illness. This number is down from 8 in 1,000 from previous regulations, according to the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC).

To make matters worse, the EPA has also limited water quality testing to once per 90-day period. Given that many coastal communities average around 90-day swimming seasons, these parameters make it possible for weeks of heightened bacteria levels to go unnoticed. The new measure also allows for one in every four samples to exceed safe levels.

The NRDC has been the EPA’s most vocal opponent on this issue, even going as far as suing the government agency when they failed to meet a 2005 deadline to update the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act of 2000. The NRDC was successful in gaining a court order to update the measure and establish new guidelines, but the resulting 1-in-28 standard leaves much to be desired.

On the heels of the release of these lackluster regulations, the EPA came out with a study warning that beach sand may contain more bacteria than the water itself, yet another example of why the EPA should be doing more to protect beachgoers rather than finding it okay for 1 in 28 people to become sick from the ocean.

Let the EPA know that these proposed regulations are unacceptable and that they should be increasing beach safety and pollution standards rather than loosening them. You can comment on the proposal until Feb. 21st on the EPA’s website or contact EPA administrator Lisa Jackson directly to voice your concerns.