December 17, 2012

Bonnie Monteleone: Plastic Ocean Project

Bonnie Monteleone is an enthusiastic blogger:  informing how plastic litter ends up in the ocean where it has devastaing effects to marine life. Bonnie has been on several voyages to the ocean gyres and has first hand experience of the plastic found in ocean trawls. Please enjoy this extract from a recent posting by Bonnie about litter in her community, something that we all experience.

I once gave my son a tee shirt that said, "It's all fun and games until the cops show up." I was messing with him for getting a speeding ticket. That said, it was all fun and games when I was picking up trash around my community for a week and storing it in individual buckets to see what types of trash I found the most of, i.e. beverage containers, fast food containers, wrappers, or cigarette related items. The "fun" (loosely stated), ended when I found a dirty diaper, yes, a dirty diaper next to a car on our condo parking lot. I'm not going to lie, I lost a little faith that day. I just couldn't pick it up, not even with my handy garbage grabber, to put it on my reusable bag to take to my deck, and leave it there for the remainder of the week. I walked past it three days before I finally put it in the dumpster on the last day of my week of trash collection.

I haven't posted this story because it really took the wind out of my sails. For the first time since I have taken on this issue of our over use of one-time use plastics, I lost hope. After four years of nearly 10,000 nautical miles of ocean research, presenting to over 3,000 people, being on several radio talk shows, a national TV show, in international newspapers - including the New York Times, and the book Sea Voices, my hope for change became disenchanted from that one unconscionable toss.

It has taken me two months to post on my blog. Telling this story probably won't encourage people to want to get out there and help cleanup, and is why I had trouble telling it. Yet, I had to get back in the game and post my results from my week long study since I initiated the sport. So here it is:

Beverage containers: 56 (cans, plastic bottles, and juice cartons)

Fast Food containers: 137 (counted straws, lids, and cups as separate pieces)

Wrappers and plastic bags: 68

Cigarette related items: 71

Other: (diaper, air freshener) 2

334 (discarded items)

Collection from second day of seven day study: 

There are 83 unites in this complex with an average of two people per unit - roughly 166 people. With 334 items recovered, it is equivalent to two items per person per week being released into the environment. What was most interesting is how much of it is coming from fast food restaurants. If we were to create a data base with the names of the brands from items we find on the ground, perhaps we could bring the results to their attention to encourage them to be part of the solution. From this one sample study, McDonald's litter was the highest at 52%. With there being a McDonald's across the street, it stands to reason. What makes even more sense is companies that use up resources for one-time use items be the most proactive in getting these resources either back into the recycling system or at the very least stop negatively proliferating the natural environment with their labeled packaging. It gives them a "dirty" name.

Keep up with Bonnie's adventures both at sea and on land at:

1 comment:

  1. I would also like to note that if you do make some MDF boxes, you will need to get the size of the box correct and also if it is ported, you will have to tune the port.
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