Apr 13

Uncovering Great Lakes Garbage Patch

Microplastics fro Great Lakes on Penny

A penny provides scale for the size of micro plastics being found in the Great Lakes ‘Garbage Patch.’ Credit: 5Gyres.

Until recently, my concept of a ‘garbage patch’ was of an area of ocean with large pieces of floating debris, the kind of stray fishing gear and trash from ships and shorelines that collect where currents form eddies far from view of most people.

Having seen my share of sea trash in 20,000+ miles of lake and ocean sailing and even untangled sheets of plastic and thick ropes from the propeller and rudder of my 37-foot sailboat, I was shocked to learn that the kind of garbage scientists are most concerned about is invisible to the naked eye. They’re finding tiny bits of plastic known as “micro-plastics” floating near the surface of the water in high concentrations. The particles are so small that a microscope is needed to even see them.

The scary news this week was about a garbage patch discovered in the Great Lakes last year. Although scientists have studied plastic pollution in the oceans since NOAA researchers discovered the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” in 1988, a team of scientists is conducting the first-of-its-kind research on the open water of the Great Lakes. One of the team members presented preliminary results of a study on the topic at meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Photo: Great Lakes Garbage Patch research team. Source: 5Gyres

The team of researchers studying the Great Lakes ‘Garbage Patch’ in 2012. Credit: 5Gyres.

I spoke with Lorena Rios-Mendoza, an environmental chemist at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and found that the buzz was certainly justified. Her background includes studying plastic debris and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the Pacific Garbage Patch and in the Southern Ocean. Now an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, she has turned her attention to these same issues on the North American Great Lakes.

“I’m interested in learning more about what happens to persistent organic pollutants when they attach to the plastic particles,” Rios-Mendoza told me. She is now studying 110 fish samples to see if they have plastic debris in their guts and to learn more about what happens to POPs associated with the plastic pollution. She wonders whether the accidental consumption of tiny bits of plastic by fish might be a new source for toxins in the food chain.

Photo: Sampling plastic pollution on the Great Lakes. Source: 5Gyres.

Sam Mason (on right) collecting samples of plastic pollution aboard the “Niagara” on the Great Lakes. Credit: 5Gyres.

Rios-Mendoza is working with a team of researchers led by Sherri “Sam” Mason, a SUNY-Fredonia chemistry professor and researcher at the forefront of research on plastic pollution within freshwater ecosystems, including the Great Lakes. Mason is actually an atmospheric chemist, but she also has a passion for environmental sustainability. A few years ago, a colleague at Niagara University invited her to teach an environmental science course aboard the Flagship Niagara, a rebuilt version of a tall ship used during the War of 1812 that is now used for on-water education programs. Having lived near the shores of Lake Erie for over ten years, she had never been out on the lake, let alone a sailboat, before teaching the summer course. Mason’s time on the water inspired her to take up an entirely new area of research: studying plastic pollution in the Great Lakes.

Modeling herself after scientists like Rachel Carson who are committed to sharing relevant research, Mason found that studying and trying to raise awareness about plastic pollution in freshwater systems suited her. “This is a fantastic area for research because the information is much needed and relevant to the scientific community and to people concerned about the Great Lakes,” she told me.

Mason and Rios-Mendoza have been working in collaboration with the 5Gyres Institute, a research and education group studying garbage patches in five subtropical gyres in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern Oceans.

Photo: Microplastic pollution in Lake Erie. Source: 5Gyres

Tiny pieces of plastic pollution found while sampling in Lake Erie. Credit: 5Gyres.

The team of researchers studying the Great Lakes wasn’t surprised to find plastic pollution, especially in Lake Erie, the smallest (by volume) and shallowest of the five lakes. They did find something interesting when comparing their results to the research in oceans. The concentration of PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons) in Lake Erie is twice as high as what is found in the world oceans. “This makes sense because the oceans are so much larger – there’s a dilution factor,” Rios-Mendoza said.

Something else the research team didn’t expect was the predominance of micro-plastic particles (less than 1 millimeter in diameter). In the world’s oceans, scientists have found higher percentages of debris in the 1-5 millimeter diameter size range as compared to the micro-plastics. Mason suspects that this is because of the larger ratio of shoreline to open water, creating an abrasive action to break down the plastic.

Photo: Sample of micro plastics from Lake Erie. Source: 5Gyres.

A sample taken from Lake Erie showing micro plastics less than 1 millimeter in size. Credit: 5Gyres.

They’re finding tiny, perfectly round beads of plastic in many of the samples, and this might hold another clue about the source of particles. “The cosmetics industry uses plastic micro-beads in soaps, toothpaste and other products. Because the products are not designed for ingestion, they don’t have to test for this. It’s completely unregulated and may be a significant source of micro-plastics finding their way into the environment,” she says.

Finding the sources of plastic pollution and getting a better idea of the degradation process is the subject of follow-up studies Mason and her team are working on.

More research is needed to compare the amount of plastic pollution from one lake to the next, but Rios-Mendoza explained to me that it takes more than two hours of towing the fine-mesh sampling net in Lake Superior to recover the amount of plastic in a 30-minute trawl from Lake Erie. The team plans to sample the St. Lawrence River and Lakes Erie, Michigan, and Ontario this summer, and as funding allows, to carry out more systematic studies of all five lakes.

How do plastics end up in oceans and now lakes? Well to begin with, we have become a throwaway society. We’re using and throwing away more and more plastics, sometimes after only using them once. The plastics are designed to last a long time, more than 500 years in some cases, Mason told me. In the U.S. alone, we consume “billions” of plastic bags and bottles. According to the 5Gyres website, only five percent of the plastics produced for things like water bottles, cups, utensils, toys and gadgets are recycled. “Roughly 50% is buried in landfills, some is remade into durable goods, and much of it remains unaccounted for, lost in the environment where it ultimately washes out to sea,” their website states.

Photo: fishing boats on Lake Erie. Source: Lisa Borre.

From the deck of a boat on Lake Erie, micro plastics are not visible in the water. Photo by Lisa Borre.

Plastic pollution is not only a problem in the water but along beaches and shorelines as well. Beaches in Hawaii were found to contain 50% sand and micro-plastics, Rios-Mendoza told me. The research team has not studied the amount of micro-plastics on Great Lakes beaches yet.

The Alliance for the Great Lakes leads an Adopt-a-Beach program to address the problem of beach pollution throughout the Great Lakes region. Mason participates in the Adopt-a-Beach program and says that her students are always surprised by how much trash they find on a beach that doesn’t look that bad at the outset. She is also leading a one-week course this summer in collaboration with Pangaea Expeditions, collecting samples for future research along the way.

“People need to be aware that we are the source of the problem, and because of this, we need to be part of the solution,” Mason said. “We all need to become aware of how much plastic we use in our lives and avoid using single-use products. Don’t buy water in plastic bottles or cosmetic products with micro beads. Bring re-usable bags to the store with you. Simple things like this make a big difference, but it’s also important to keep talking about this issue and raising awareness about how it affects the Great Lakes and the world’s oceans.”

It turns out that even this observant sailor has sailed right through garbage patches on the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes without noticing anything but the deep blue water that appears infinitely transparent. Now I realize what all the fuss is about. These new findings give me all the more reason to find ways to reduce, re-use, and recycle plastic at home and on my boat.

In short, I need to do my part to reduce plastic pollution in the world’s lakes and oceans.

Lisa Borre is a lake conservationist, freelance writer and sailor based in Annapolis, Maryland. With her husband, she co-founded LakeNet, a world lakes network, and co-wrote a sailing guide called “The Black Sea” based on their voyage around the sea in 2010. She is a native of the Great Lakes region and served as coordinator of the Lake Champlain Basin Program in the 1990s.

Apr 25

Multipure Aquaversa (MP750sb) As Reported By Reactual, Wins Title As The Best Under-Counter Drinking Water Filter For 2012!

Posted By: Pat Connor
Multipure Independent Distributor, ID#424548  http://MultipureUSA.com/koakley

The Best Water Filters For 2012

by  on JANUARY 2, 2012 · in HOME & GARDEN PRODUCTSKITCHEN PRODUCTS

In A Nutshell: The Best Under-Sink Water Filter

We recommend the Multi-Pure MP750SB under-sink water filter. It is Consumer Reports’ top rated under-sink filter, with a rating of 90 out of 100. It has a wide range of NSF Standard 53 contaminant reduction (NSF is an industry-standard filter certifier). The yearly maintenance costs are also low, making it good value for money in terms of the Cost Per Contaminant (CPC) Ratio. Another excellent filter is the Aqua-Pure by Cuno AP-DWS1000, scoring 88 out of 100 from Consumer Reports, also certified by NSF. It sells for around $100 less than the Multi-Pure filter.

Why Filter Your Water?

Bottled water is expensive, wasteful, and less regulated than tap water. In fact, most bottled water is simply filtered tap water. Filtering your water at home is the most effective and least expensive option overall. However, you will need a good quality water filter, because tap water commonly contains contaminants such as lead, chloroform, arsenic, nitrate, nitrite, radon, and E. coli. The good news is that the filters featured here will remove most of these impurities.

Experts recommend that you should find out which pollutants are in your local water supply. You can then customize your filtration by selecting filters that target those specific pollutants. One way to find out is to check your consumer confidence report, or CCR. The EPA requires utilities to provide a CCR to their customers every year, and they are often available on government websites. Consumer Reports had this to say about CCRs:

Our recent analysis of CCRs from the 13 largest U.S. cities revealed that few claimed to have no federal water-quality violations. Though none of the other water systems were consistently unhealthful, all had some samples containing significant quantities of contaminants. In New York City, for example, some samples had lead levels several times the federal limit.

Here’s the list of the types of contaminants you want to remove from tap water:

  1. Organic compounds (Pesticides, Herbicides, Pharmaceuticals, Fuels, etc.)
  2. Toxic metals (Lead, Mercury, Aluminum, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, etc.)
  3. Bacterial and viruses (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, etc.)
  4. Radioactive substances (Radon and Uranium, etc.)
  5. Additives (Chlorine and Chloramines, Fluoride, etc.)

Why Choose An Under-Sink Water Filter?

Under-sink water filters are the most convenient and less expensive type of water filter. Pitcher-based filters and faucet-mounted filters are not as effective as under-sink filters. In The Drinking Water Book, water filter expert Colin Ingram rates all pitcher filters and and faucet mounted filters as  “Acceptable” (the lowest rating). Good under-sink water filters get a rating of “Very Good” from him. Water distillers get a rating of “Excellent” but distillers are slow, expensive and time-consuming to operate. Reverse Osmosis filters work well and they are the only type certified to remove arsenic. But you must sanitize them with bleach periodically. Eventually the membrane must be replaced. They can also be extremely slow, rob cabinet space, and create 3 to 5 gallons of waste water for every gallon filtered.

Top Rated: The Multi-Pure MP750SB Water Filter

 

The Multi-Pure MP750SB is a three-stage carbon filter, certified to remove a range of important water contaminants — herbicides, heavy metals, industrial chemicals and volatile organic compounds.

This filter is certified by NSF International, which means it has been tested that it does in fact remove contaminants, and does not re-contaminate the water with bacteria. Many commonly available filters will let quite a few contaminants through. For example, in-fridge or faucet-mount filters may not filter VOCs and chlorination by-products like Trihalomethanes (THMs).

Besides the NSF certification, several states  such as California, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts have certified this filter. The Multi-Pure MP750SB was also Consumer Reports’ top rated under-sink filter, with a rating of 90 out of 100.

 

The filter life is approximately 750 gallons, which translates into a year worth of filtration for most households. Replacement filters cost about $120 per year, making this filter inexpensive solution in the long-term.

See also the MP750SB filter’s home page.

You can find the Multi-Pure MP750SB  for around $429.

 

*Or visit  http://MultipureUSA.com/koakley

Call for more information:

Katrina Oakley
Multipure Independent Distributor
I.D. Number 424548

Dec 14

The Problem With Bottled Water & Its Effects On Our Environment

Individual use of plastic water bottles has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Not only is bottled water much more expensive than tap water, but there is also a serious cost to our planet:

  • 1.5 million barrels of oil are used annually to manufacture plastic water bottles. (Earth Policy Institute)
  • 2 million tons of plastic bottles are land filled every year. (Worldwatch Institute)
  • Only 1 out of every 10 plastic bottles is recycled.
  • Bottled water has to either be pumped out of the ground or treated. Up to 1500 gallons of water are wasted during this process.
  • Bottled water uses fossil fuels in the making, filling, transporting, and recycling of plastic water bottles…up to 187 gallons of oil are spent! To learn more about this process, check out “The Story of Bottled Water” at www.storyofstuff.org/bottledwater.php
  • 1 billion pounds of CO2 is emitted in the transportation of bottled water in the United States alone.
  • 40% of PET bottles recycled in the United States in 2004 were exported – adding to the resources used.

Bottled water is drinking water packaged in plastic or glass containers. The dominant form is water packaged in new Polyethylene terephthalate bottles and sold retail. Another method of packaging is in larger high-density polyethylene plastic bottles, or polycarbonate plastic bottles, often used with water coolers.

Wasted material

The major criticism of bottled water concerns the bottles themselves. Individual use bottled water is generally packaged in Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). According to a NAPCOR study, PET water bottles account for 50% of all the PET bottles and containers collected by curbside recycling, and the recycling rate for water bottles is 23.4%, an increase over the 2006 rate of 20.1%. PET bottled water containers make up one-third of 1 percent of the waste stream in the United States.An estimated 50 billion bottles of water are consumed per annum in the US and around 200 billion bottles globally.

Health effects

Bottled water does not imply a specific treatment process or better process than tap water or another water source. Some bottled water is simply tap water bottled and sold. In the United States, the FDA regulates bottled water whilst the EPA regulates the quality of tap water and has created 90 maximum contaminant levels for drinking water and 15 secondary maximum contaminant levels.

According to a 1999 NRDC study, in which roughly 22 percent of brands were tested, at least one sample contained chemical contaminants at levels above strict state health limits. Some of the contaminants found in the study could pose health risks if consumed over a long period of time. However, the NRDC report conceded that “most waters contained no detectable bacteria, and the levels of synthetic organic chemicals and inorganic chemicals of concern for which were tested were either below detection limits or well below all applicable standards.” Meanwhile, a report by the Drinking Water Research Foundation found that of all samples tested by NRDC, “federal FDA or EPA limits were allegedly exceeded only four times, twice for total coliforms and twice for fluorides.”

The rate of total dissolved solids is sometimes 4 times higher in bottled mineral waters than in bottled tap ones.

Another study, conducted by the Goethe University at Frankfurt found that a high percentage of the bottled water, contained in plastic containers were polluted with estrogenic chemicals. Although some of the bottled water contained in glass were found polluted with chemicals as well, the researchers believe some of the contamination in the plastic containers may have come from the plastic containers themselves.

Bottled water vs tap water

In the United States, bottled water costs between $0.25 and $2 per bottle while tap water costs less than US$0.01.In 1999, according to a NRDC study, U.S. consumers paid between 240 and 10,000 times more per unit volume for bottled water than for tap water.Typically 90 percent or more of the cost paid by bottled water consumers goes to things other than the water itself—bottling, packaging, shipping, marketing, retailing, other expenses, and profit.

In some areas, tap water may contain added fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay and cavities, but may also produce negative toxicological side-effects.

Bottled water has reduced amounts of copper, lead, and other metal contaminants since it does not run through the plumbing pipes where tap water is exposed to metal corrosion. However, this varies by the household and plumbing system.

In a study with 57 bottled water samples and tap water samples, all of the tap water samples had a bacterial content under 3 CFUs/mL and the bottled water samples’ bacterial content ranged from 0.01-4900 CFUs/mL(colony-forming unit). Most of the water bottle samples were under 1 CFU/mL, though there were 15 water bottle samples containing 6-4900 CFUs/mL.

In another study comparing 25 different bottled waters, most of the samples resulted exceeding the contaminant level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‎ (EPA) for mercury, thallium, and thorium. Being exposed to these contaminants in high concentration for long periods of time can cause liver and kidney damage, and increase risk for lung and pancreas disease.

In much of the developed world chlorine is often added as a disinfectant. If the water contains organic matter, this can produce other products in the water such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. The level of residual chlorine found is small at around 00.2g per litre which is too small to directly cause any health problems.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and World Wildlife Fund have all urged their supporters to consume less bottled water. Anti-bottled water campaigns and organizations, such as Corporate Accountability International, typically argue that bottled water is no better than tap water, and emphasize the environmental side-effects of disposable plastic bottles.

The Showtime series Penn & Teller: Bullshit! demonstrated, in a 2007 episode, that in a controlled setting, diners could not discern between bottled water and water from a garden hose behind the restaurant.

Privatization of water

The United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada, National Council of Churches, National Coalition of American Nuns and Presbyterians for Restoring Creation are among some of the religious organizations that have raised questions about whether or not the “privatization” of water is ethical. They regard the industrial purchase and repackaging at a much higher resale price of a basic resource as an unethical trend.

The recent documentary Tapped argues against the bottled water industry, asserting that tap water is healthier, more environmentally sustainable and more ecologically just than bottled water. The film focuses on the bottled water industry in the United States. The film has largely seen positive reviews, and has spawned college campus groups such as Beyond the Bottle.

Tapped is a film that examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil. visit: http://www.tappedthefilm.com/

The Answer?

Home Water Filter Systems. Fortunately, there is an inexpensive and reliable alternative to tap water and bottled water. Home water filter systems are a far better option than bottled water in every way. A quality home water filter system filters out the dangerous contaminants found in tap water, including lead, chlorine, herbicides and pesticides. The home water filter industry has developed a wide variety of filter options, from drinking water filters to attach to your kitchen faucet, to under sink filters to shower filters to whole house water filters.

For pennies per gallon, a quality home water filter system turns your tap water into clean, healthy and safe water. No more bottles to deal with, no more bad taste or smell to your water, and no more concern about the water you and your family are drinking every day. For your health, for your budget and for our environment, a MultiPure home water filter is the best choice by far.

Aug 08

Organic Water?

Organic water has arrived. Has the trend gone too far?

Image031HEBOrganicWater

Your water is purified, PVC-free, sustainable, artesian, and infused with antioxidants. But is it organic? Llanllyr Source, a British brand of bottled water, is claiming it is.  The brand says the soil above their bottled water source is an organic farm, so by language osmosis the H2O has absorbed the coveted stamp of health.

For the record, water can’t technically be organic because it doesn’t contain carbon. But don’t expect that to stop marketers. Two other water companies, Totally Organica and Highland Spring are pushing an “organic” agenda by using roundabout terminology, according to Mother Jones.

The reason? Organic is the new sex. It sells. People are willing to pay a little more for peace of mind that their fruit, dairy and veggies are grown without hormones or pesticides. Even preservative-packed dry goods with a host of other artificial ingredients get a boost from the organic label. Doubtful if Kraft’s organic mac and cheese is much different in flavor or wholesomeness from the original product but a few less toxins in powdered cheese isn’t a bad thing for consumers or the environment.

But food isn’t the only industry adopting the label. Now you can buy everything from dog food to clothing andbeauty products that bare the organic stamp of approval. There’s no doubt the organic movement has been a boon for the environment but it’s also begun to drive consumers a little crazy. As more industries warn of the dangers of inorganic materials, it’s easy to start getting paranoid. Are there toxic chemicals in the couch? Are they coming from the TV? If tinfoil was organic, we’d be thisclose to putting it on our heads.

Does any of it make a difference? Depends on the product, its user and who you ask over in marketing. Check out some of the most unexpected organic-labeled products on the market and then tell us which ones would make a difference for you.

Aug 06

Taking Out The Trash

 A recent report by Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund in California
spotlights the litter from disposable plastics and other single-use containers, napkins and fast-food packaging. These are the culprits in the flood of trash making its way from city streets and neighborhoods into area waterways and then the ocean. Volunteer “trash patrols” surveyed San Francisco area neighborhoods for the report, which has received national news attention. The report identifies specific companies behind much of the trash and strengthens the case for legislation already pending to ban disposable “Styrofoam” packaging at fast-food and convenience stores in the state.

trash.JPG

 

Publication Date: 
07/14/2011
Jul 31

Is Your Water Bottle Really BPA Free?

Think your Water Bottle is “BPA Free”? Better double check.

JULY 14, 2011

By Margot Pagan, EWG Summer Press Intern

Is your reusable water bottle aluminum? In an effort to be more sustainable and protect my health, I made the switch from plastic water bottles to my reliable metal bottle that I carry with me every day. I thought this switch was a positive change, which is why I’m a little concerned to read headlines that “Metal Water Bottles May Leach BPA.” Just when I thought I was doing something good for my health and the environment, I learn otherwise. Just my luck!
Aluminum water bottles aren’t just aluminum

The issue is that some aluminum water bottles aren’t just aluminum – they’re lined with a resin meant to prevent that bad aluminum taste in your water. Problem is, the resin is epoxy, and epoxy is made with bisphenol A, or BPA, which is a synthetic estrogen. The epoxy molecule is unstable. It comes apart and releases BPA readily into whatever it touches.

This new study from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine has discovered that switching from polycarbonate to aluminum might not protect you from BPA exposure as well as you thought. Keep in mind – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has called for parents to take action to reduce their children’s exposure to BPA. The chemical isn’t healthy for any age group: it is linked to an alarming list of health conditions – breast and prostate cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The study found that epoxy-lined aluminum bottles (including older SIGG bottles) leached BPA. But SIGG’s new linings, made of a synthetic the company calls Ecocare did not emit the troublesome chemical. Stainless steel bottles, which are unlined, were also free of BPA.

BPA is an essential ingredient of polycarbonate, a hard, clear plastic ideal for safety glasses, safety helmets and computer and cell phone houses. Until a few years ago, Nalgene water bottles were made of polycarbonate. Like epoxy, polycarbonate is unstable and, experiments show, readily leaches BPA into surrounded liquids, even cold water. Nalgene, Camelbak and some other sports bottle makers moved to a non-BPA-based plastic called Tritan. The University of Cincinnati study found bottles made with Tritan did not emit BPA.

BPA leaching by the “worst” water bottles is still less than the amount you’d get from a serving of most canned foods but still important to consider since exposures add up.

The study also examined the effects of BPA on heart muscle cells and found that increasing exposure to this estrogen-like chemical can result in potentially deadly heart arrhythmias in rodents. This finding leads the group to suggest that heart arrhythmias could be an issue for women specifically, because they already have natural estrogen in their bodies.

Does the Claim “BPA Free” Mean Anything?

“BPA free” is not a defined and consistent term, noted the study’s author Scott Belcher in an interview with Science News. For “BPA free” to have a useful meaning for consumers there should be regulations to limit its use, Belcher said.

Legislation to control BPA in food containers, especially those made for infants and children, is making its way through lawmaking bodies, with varying degrees of success.

In Maine, a bill to remove BPA from children’s products became law without the signature of Gov. Paul LePage. Now Maine’s Environmental Health Strategy Center is accusing LePage of foot-dragging and has petitioned the state Attorney General to force LePage to put the law into effect. LePage is famed for declaring that BPA is harmless, except that “some women may have little beards” if exposed to the chemical. (LePage confused it with another sex hormone, testosterone).

Meanwhile, in California, the state assembly is moving the Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act, which would bar BPA in bottles or cups intended for infants or children three years of age or younger.

So what should you do to protect your health?

– Buy a glass or stainless steel bottle without an epoxy liner.

– Examine the inside of a bottle. A golden-orange coating indicates a material that can shed BPA, while a white coating doesn’t. Contact the manufacturer to see if it has tested its product for BPA leaching.

– Don’t put hot liquids in your water bottles.

Remember, BPA is most harmful during pregnancy and early childhood. Pregnant women, babies and children should take extra efforts to avoid BPA. Check out what EWG has been saying about kid-size Klean Kanteen bottles.
Buying a water bottle might seem like a simple purchase (it should be, right?), but doing your BPA research before you buy could grant you peace of mind that your bottle isn’t leaching BPA.

Jun 27

The Story Of Bottled Water – Annie Leonard

The Story of Bottled Water, released on March 22, 2010 (World Water Day) employs the Story of Stuff style to tell the story of manufactured demand—how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap. Over five minutes, the film explores the bottled water industrys attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces. The film concludes with a call to take back the tap, not only by making a personal commitment to avoid bottled water, but by supporting investments in clean, available tap water for all.

Jun 23

What is a bottle bill and how does it work?

Glass bottle, plastic bottle, aluminum can

Bottle bills (also known as container deposit laws) are a proven, sustainable method of capturing beverage bottles and cans for recycling. The refund value of the container (usually 5 or 10 cents) provides a monetary incentive to return the container for recycling. A bottle bill, or container deposit law, requires a refundable deposit on beverage containers to ensure that the containers are returned for recycling.

Benefits of bottle bills

From reducing litter to increasing the economy, container deposit systems offer a number of benefits.

Bottle Bills..

  • Supply recyclable materials for a high-demand market
  • Conserve energy and natural resources
  • Create new businesses and jobs
  • Reduce waste disposal costs
  • Reduce litter
  • and provide many more benefits

Because recycling is mandated on a local level, different states can decide how to incentivize participation. One option that has gained popularity is the bottle bill.

The bottle bill allows for consumers to pay an extra charge when purchasing beverage containers. This charge is then totally or partially refunded when the container is recycled at a certified redemption center.

While most programs nationwide will give consumers money for materials such as aluminum, the bottle bill unifies this refund across the state.

Beverage Container Deposits

The first bottle bill was passed in Oregon in 1971. Currently, eleven states operate these programs. States differ in how unredeemed deposits are dispersed.

Here’s how the bottle bill works in each state:

  • California (imposed Sept. 29, 1986): A 5-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by a state-managed fund.
  • Connecticut (April 12, 1978): A 5-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by distributors/bottlers.
  • Delaware (June 30, 1982): A 5-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by distributors/bottlers.
  • Hawaii (June 25, 2002): Distributors pay a 5-cent-per-container deposit into a special state fund on a monthly basis. Distributors charge retailers the deposit on each container purchased by the retailer. In turn, the retailer charges the consumer for the deposit. Unredeemed deposits are retained by a state-managed fund.
  • Iowa (April 1978): At least a 5-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by distributors/bottlers.
  • Maine (Jan. 12, 1976): A 5-cent deposit is imposed on beer, soft drink, wine cooler, non-alcoholic carbonated and non-carbonated beverage containers, and a 15-cent deposit is imposed on wine and other liquor beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by the state General Fund.
  • Massachusetts (Jan. 1983): A 5-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by a state Clean Environment Fund.
  • Michigan (Nov. 2, 1976): A 10-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained at 75 percent by a state-managed fund and 25 percent by retailers.
  • New York (June 15, 1982): At least a 5-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by distributors/bottlers.
  • Oregon (July 2, 1971): A 2-cent deposit is imposed on all standardized refillable beverage containers, and a 5-cent deposit is imposed on all non-standardized refillable beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by distributors/bottlers.
  • Vermont (April 7, 1972): A 5-cent deposit is imposed on beer, malt, soft drink, mineral and soda water and wine cooler beverage containers. A 15-cent deposit is imposed on liquor beverage containers greater than 50 milliliters. Unredeemed deposits are retained by distributors/bottlers.

These 11 states report higher recycling rates for beverage containers than states without such programs. California, for example, reported a 60 percent recycling rate for its beverage containers between January and December 200. During that year, more than 13 billion containers were recycled, which was 814 million more than the previous year.

California leads the nation in the total quantity of bottles and cans recycled. States with deposit programs have generally maintained higher recycling rates for beverage containers than the U.S. average rate.

Bottle bill opponents call deposit requirements a “tax” fronted by taxpayers. However, one-way, throwaway, no-deposit, no-return beverage containers are a corporate subsidy, a hidden tax. Taxpayers absorb the cost of disposing of beverage containers. And many taxpayers absorb the costs of recycling beverage containers through curbside recycling programs.

When there is a refundable deposit on beverage containers, the consumers pay the deposit. The deposit is refunded if the container is returned. And the beverage distributors and bottlers absorb the cost of collection. They then chose whether or not to pass their costs on to their consumers. Because 70 percent or more of the deposit containers are returned, taxpayers pay less for disposal, litter pickup and curbside recycling.

National Recycling Program

Based on a report published by the General Accounting Office on municipal recycling, recycling stakeholders who were interviewed encouraged increasing municipal recycling via adoption of a federal bottle bill. The National Beverage Producer Responsibility Act of 2003 was introduced to the Senate, which referred the bill on Nov. 14 to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The bill was introduced to the Committee three days later by Senator Jeffords (I-VT), but no action has as yet been taken on the bill.

For more information about bottle bills, visit www.bottlebill.org.

Jun 22

Dire forecast of marine life catastrophe – San Francisco Chronicle

The world’s oceans are degenerating far faster than predicted and marine life is facing extinction due to a range of human impacts – from overfishing to climate change – a report compiled by international scientists warned Tuesday.

The cumulative impact of “severe individual stresses,” ranging from climate warming and sea-water acidification to widespread chemical pollution and overfishing, would threaten the marine environment with a catastrophe “unprecedented in human history.”

The conclusions were published by a panel of international scientists who reviewed recent research at a workshop at Oxford University in Britain. They will be presented to the United Nations in New York this week for discussions on reforming governance of the oceans.

The report warned that damage to marine life would harm its ability to support humans, and that entire ecosystems, such as coral reefs, could be lost in a generation. Coral deaths alone would be considered a mass extinction, according to study chief author Alex Rogers of Oxford University. A single bleaching event in 1998 killed one-sixth of the world’s tropical coral reefs.

Carl Lundin, director of global marine programs at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which helped produce the report with the International Program on the State of the Ocean, pointed to deaths of 1,000-year-old coral in the Indian Ocean and called the situation “really unprecedented.”

Chemicals and plastics from daily life are also causing problems for sea creatures, the report said. Overall, the world’s oceans just can’t bounce back from problems – such as oil spills – as they used to, scientists said.

“Unless action is taken now, the consequences of our activities are at a high risk of causing, through the combined effects of climate change, overexploitation, pollution and habitat loss, the next globally significant extinction event in the ocean,” it said.

The marine scientists called for a range of urgent measures to cut carbon emissions, reduce overfishing, shut unsustainable fisheries, create protected areas in the seas and cut pollution.

“As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean, the implications became far worse than we had individually realized,” Rogers said. “This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level.”

A separate study released Monday provided the most detailed look yet of sea level rise from global warming. It found the world’s oceans have been rising significantly over the past century. The yearly rise is slightly less than one-tenth of an inch, but it adds up over decades. That study was published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This article appeared on page A – 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Jun 22

“Tapped” The Movie – Review

Last year, one of the most important films of our time was made. The film “Tapped” has opened my eyes to the damaging effects that plastic has on our environment and the bottled water companies control of our water. Take the time to see this documentary and pass it on to everyone you know.

“If you eliminate the scourge of bottled water, you will be eliminating one of the biggest problems facing our environment”. —Charles Moore, founder, Algalita, and discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Tapped is a condemnation of one of the most ubiquitous acts of consumption today, the purchase of bottled water. The scathing new documentary reveals a litany of damaging effects as it follows this environmental scourge from production to “disposal,” including the Pacific Ocean’s floating continents of plastic debris twice the size of the continental United States.

This documentary also examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil.

Along the way, the directors demonstrate how corporate greed combines with a lack of government oversight to allow bottled-water giants Coke and Pepsi to continue bottling water during recent droughts in Georgia and North Carolina, and encasing it in cancer-causing chemicals.

Watch the trailer: