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Plastic Bags...They're Everywhere!

April 25, 2008

Going green now includes new rules for recycling all those plastic bags. NBC’s (and Croton-on-Hudson’s) Rob Kaplan reports in the following video titled, “It’s in the Bag,” on April 24, 2008.

Locally, residents of Croton-on-Hudson can buy reusable shopping bags at ShopRite (South Riverside Avenue) and the A&P Supermarket (Albany Post Road North). As an alternative—and as part of their fundraising efforts—the Croton Free Library sells canvas tote bags while the Croton Harmon High School P.T.A. announced availably of “Croton Goes Green” shopping bags in December/January 2008 issue of CHHS News.

On April 26, 2008 11:02 AM, Leo Wiegman said:

New Word for Today! Nurdle [Hint: it’s plastic!] Rob Kaplan’s piece on NYC banning plastic bags is terrific and timely. We think of plastic chiefly as an land-based problem of one-use bags that end up in landfills. While that is bad enough as a waste of resources, a staggering amount of plastic ends up in our waterways and oceans.

Once it gets in our waterbodies, durable and sponge-like plastic becomes the gift that keeps on giving, breaking down in size but never really disappearing—at least not for hundreds of years, thanks to the sturdy polymer bonds the modern plastic science gave us. Any toxins it absorbs stay with and outlive the decay of the animal that ate the plastic.

Recent research analyzed beach sand and found that beaches throughout the world now contain surprising amounts of plastic grains mixed in with the natural silicate sands. Due to wind and ocean currents, some beaches are bigger ‘collectors’ of debris, such as Kamilo Beach in Hawaii.

But most plastic sinks before it reaches a shore. Dutch researchers found 110 pieces of litter per square kilometer (247 acres or 4/10 sq mile) of North Sea seabed. The North Sea is heavily trafficked, but not more so than the New York-New Jersey Harbor channels. So who knows how much discarded plastic is waiting to litter the Hudson River bottom or shoreline?

See also these stories:

Bonus: For a really cool tour of the cumulative human impact on the oceans (traffic, pollution, shore disturbance, etc), this recent research report contains global maps and KML downloads–for all the Google Earth fans out there).

— Leo Wiegman


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