Dictated by Roz at 21.30 on May 18th and transcribed by her mother Rita Savage.

Position: -06.46732   154.13231

At last a relatively uneventful day. Hallelujah.

Unfortunately the most notable thing about today was the amount of plastic trash I saw littering the ocean. Today was the worst I have ever seen it. I saw about 30 individual recognisable pieces:  plastic bottles, yogurt pots, bits of packaging. There is something deeply upsetting about seeing a beautiful blue ocean glinting in the sunshine marred by a plastic bottle bobbing along on the surface.

I would love to see a ban on all plastic drinks bottles. It is easy enough to avoid using plastic water bottles just buy a Brite water filter and keep refilling your own reusable water bottle. But what about the other drinks, even health drinks like  . . . .ies .  which come in plastic bottles?  I hate the hypocrisy of selling a drink that is supposedly good for your body packaged in a substance which is trashing the planet.

For decades, centuries even, we used glass bottles. They can be returned for a deposit or recycled. And even if they end up in landfill or the ocean they are at least inert and don’t leach out nasty chemicals into the environment.  I don’t know the cost benefit analysis of glass vs plastic but if you factor in the REAL cost of plastic, environmental as well as financial I am fairly certain it would sway the argument.

After all, beer comes in glass bottles, so why can’t everything else? Maybe we should

boycott all other drinks and just drink beer and wine. Do you think this would catch on as a campaign? SAVE THE WORLD DRINK BEER.

Other Stuff: conditions today have been very neutral, the slight SSE current and no breeze to speak of so I have been able to claw back some of the eastwards drift inflicted yesterday while I was on the sea anchor. Still a long way to go before I can get into favourable currents, but I’ll just keep taking it one day at a time.

I have an idea today that I would like to run past you. Given the unpredictability of arrival times, it’s impossible to organize any kind of celebration. How about if I organise something in Perth, Australia, before my departure there in March next year? If I can negotiate some kind of a package, say, to cover accommodation and flights from the west coast of the US would anybody be interested in coming out to help with final preparations and joining in with a Bon Voyage party? A few friends came out to Hawaii last year to do just that and we had a great time. Let me know if you might be interested. No commitment at this stage. Just wondering if there might be enough people to make it worthwhile.

I saw the crescent moon tonight at 07.40 UTC. I was at position -06.44647,  154.15331 and the moon was about 60 degrees above the horizon and about 15 degrees east of the setting sun.

Rita: Grateful thanks to recent donors to the Foundation appeal: Anne Monks, Anne-Marie Mills, Bonnie Sterngood, Ellen Smith, Bill Savage, Naomi Durkin, Sierra North, David Snyder, Kenneth Scott, Martin Mari, Brian Phelps.

38 Comments

  • One problem about the beer campaign idea – what about the children? Their drinks could be packaged in the “cardboard” cartons – but without the plastic drinking straws!

  • Excellent idea, beer keeps better than milk, too, which can help with reducing food miles.

    You can put beer on cereal but I’m not so sure about using it in tea or coffee so at least some milk is needed. Freezing milk also helps with food miles. Maybe, though, it should also be in cardboard packaging as freezing milk bottles seems to be one of those funny-once things.

    Nice little article from the Isle of Eigg about plastic in the sea:

    http://islandsgoinggreen.org/2010/05/17/a-whole-load-of-plastic/

  • Yes, the plastic problem is sickening to me, Oil and bottling companies getting rich off of polluting our land and oceans! Oooh, I hate plastic!

    Roz, on a brighter side, the Bon Voyage party idea is a great thought to me even, IF I am still “kickin” by then! 🙂 Roger

  • Wonderful idea. When my boss asks me why I’m sitting at my desk throwing back beers all day, I’ll tell him it’s for the greater good of the entire world. A side benefit is that work will be much more tolerable, and many of my coworkers will seem far less annoying. (grin)

  • the story about the bottles is very impressive. I will think about that the next time i am tempted to be “lazy” and buy a plastic bottle filled with a drink. Ease does nothing for our planet! Keep on paddling! My students will enjoy the story about you and your boat… it’s a nail biter!

  • Gives me another idea. I’m heading over to the Eco Heroes site right now to enter a new Green Deed: Drank beer all day.

  • Sign me up, Roz. See you in Perth.
    It is a real shame about the plastic, spreading everywhere like cancer …
    I like your slogan and would suggest a slight enhancement, something like:

    Save the earth, humanity and yourself, drink beer and exercise.

    I reported your crescent moon observation to http://www.crescentmoonwatch.org/ Cheers!

  • We’ve set up a recycling area in our company for plastic bottles but still people don’t get the picture. I just dug another plastic bottle out of a trash can and moved it to recycling. It sure does take a long time to get the message out. I agree with Roger, “Plastic, I hate it!”
    Keep stroking Roz and I’ll keep pulling with you.

  • Roz, Great work! Interesting to know that you just hit plastic in that zone.. please track it! This is the year of Plastic… just wait. For those who are ready, there will be big opportunities.. for those who are sleeping, you will miss out yet again. This is just the start, but your efforts are a great way to show the world the tragedy that we have created, without really knowing about it…. as it snuck under our radar.

    Keep up the great work! See you in Oz, or somewhere out there to celebrate!

    Doug
    Project Kaisei

  • I have to correct you here, Roz, even if I risk having all others roll over me.

    Plastic bottles can be returned for a deposit (Germany, Sweden) and recycled. In Europe, about 40 percent get recycled on average with a range of countries recycling 60 percent or more. Sorry, the UK is not in that league.

    Most plastic bottles are made from PET, which definitely does not “leach out nasty chemicals into the environment”.

    Instead, we should make sure that each country has responsible legislation towards recycling and re-use. Each country should put sound collection infrastructures into place, which is the case in most European countries except Greece, Portugal, Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands.

    And who can make that happen? We, the people. We don’t need to exclude poor or developing nations from such aspirations: India has a better recycling infrastructure compared to that of the UK.

    Yes, it is tempting to say ban this or ban that, but I doubt that banning cars, meat, bottles, offers real solutions.

  • Just read an article at http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/biofuel/algae-to-plastic

    Using algae to make plastics. I’m with Roz on this. There is far too much plastic, styrofoam, and general trash in our waterways. I live in Tennessee. The locals use the roadways as their trash dumps, that litter gets carried into the rivers then onto the oceans. It is truly a very sad site. I think more cops ought to pull over litterbugs and night stick em till the cows come home.

  • OK, I just read my post. Yea it does sound brutal but littering is one, if not my top hot button issue. There is just no reason to litter. I see bags of garbage along side the road. BAGS of it.

  • I think banning all plastics would be great, but the genie is out of the bottle, so to speak, plastic is ubiquitous. I like these bottles, they’re glass water bottles made to look like plastic water bottles. Very refreshing, although they make them in Italy, and would have to be shipped;
    http://designage.wordpress.com/2008/06/27/drink-up/

    I use a stainless steel water bottle and I use it all the time, you can get these at any camping/outdoors store; http://tinyurl.com/26n4tjl

  • Here’s my two cents on the bottle issue. First there are two general reasons for the US moving away from glass bottles. First, the environmental issue, while it makes no sense to haul water, in one of its many forms – soft drinks, sport drinks, just plan water, etc – hundreds of miles from the bottler to the consumer, it makes even less sense to haul it in heavy glass bottles; the carbon footprint of that gets huge. Second, a decade or so ago there were several lawsuits in the US involving contamination in reused bottles. These lawsuits led to multimillion dollar settlements against the large beverage companies here. To avoid further losses, they stopped refilling bottles and switched to one-way containers. Thus, today we have plastic bottles and aluminum cans for almost all our beverages – except beer and wine. BTW, US mega breweries are experimenting with plastic bottles. If the consumer doesn’t complain the glass beer bottle will go away too. Glass is just too costly to make new -even if recycled glass is used – and ship.

    While FK from Belgium makes some good points I find that “bragging” about a 40% recycling rate a bit naive. Many cities in the US achieve much higher rates than this but are still “overflowing” with bottles. In the US alone we create several billion of these critters a year, if we only recycle 40% that still leaves a couple billion in the trash, on the beach, along the road and a whole bunch of other places we don’t want them.

    So how do we solve the problem. FIrst, I doubt that more than .01% of the plastic bottles produced contain anything that is really “good” for our bodies. I don’t care how many vitamins, probiotics, or other good things we put in the water, that dollop of “high fructose corn sweetener” negates any good you might otherwise get. Most sport drinks are now available in powder form, sweetened with good old fashioned sugar (sucrose). Buy that and mix your own at home with tap water in a reusable bottle. If you can’t do without soda, most of those are available in highly recyclable and recycled aluminum cans so you can have your habit and still tread fairly lightly.

    I’ll get off my soapbox for now but expect more later.

  • I agree with Stan on all points, including the one about me bragging. The only excuse I have, is that I was heading the European organization that fosters PET collection and recycling in Europe, from 2001-2007.

    The reality we all face, is one of convenience, which is why there is such a huge market for drinks in plastic (or glass, or canned) containers.

    Littering is indeed a huge problem, a problem of attitude and the concept of “broken windows” springs to mind. We know what to do about it, but far too little is actually done.

    Just a brief response to the bragging. A lot of energy has gone into moving regulators and producers alike, towards solution-oriented approaches. We (you and me) aren’t there yet at all; there is little room for complacency. Some regions are on the right track and that includes Europe, Japan, and on a micro-economics scale, China, India, Mexico, Brazil. One of the problems that occur both in the USA and in the UK, is that legislation (USA) and implementation (UK) is dealt with on a State (USA) or County (UK) level.

  • It would be brilliant to have a competition for college industrial designers to come up with a better, more environmentally friendly juice box. Most people will always go for convenience so it is unlikely that it will go away.

    I’m sure some kind of packaging can be developed that could make it unnecessary for straws and wrappers if people put their minds to it. Additionally it could save tons in production costs and mean less garbage for our landfills. A miniscule $5000 prize to the winner (a ton of $$ for a student) would be a great investment for the good of us all.

  • It’s not possible to uninvent “plastics” (or anything else, for that matter). In any case they have become so widespread that if they disappeared civilization would collapse. Try making a list of all the things that would not exist today without plastics and another of the alternatives where they exist.

    The problem is not one of material but of attitude. When I was young, during WWII, the key word was “salvage”. If something broke, you repaired it. If that wasn’t possible you either stored it until circumstances changed or salvaged the parts for some other use. One of my earliest memories as a child is of using a hammer and pliers to straighten nails salvaged by my Father. There were no new nails to be had.

    The increasing availability of new things – and new inventions – after the war led the next generation to become careless about salvage. There are many things now that are not capable of being repaired because replacement is less financially costly.

    The only solution lies in changes of attitude. First, avoid buying things that you don’t really need. Second, dispose of garbage appropriately. Third, don’t depend on government to make rules; teach your children. Remember that a grass-roots movement has much more effect and tends to survive longer than laws created by politicians.

  • Stan and FK, I have a short story and conundrum for you: While hurrying to visit my 93-year-old dad in a nursing and rehab facility last night after work, and then to drive 2 home in time to make several 1Sky.org organizing phone calls before 9 PM, I stopped at a not-so-mainstream fast food joint and bought the low calorie (370 cal) low fat (9.5%) BBQ chicken sandwich (they did not offer a veg meal). Although the sodium was relatively high at 1,070 mg, it was the best choice for my diet, and I was in a hurry. I consciously did not purchase the “meal” which included fries and drink, figuring the better option for a drink would be the diet cola from the vending machine at the rehab facility where I spent an hour or so “dining” with Dad. The fries are certainly not on my diet.

    Now, I’m feeling guilty and confused for having made an “impulsive” decision to buy a for $1.25 diet cola in a 20 oz plastic bottle from a vending machine instead of paying $1.79 for a 16 oz drink (net drinkable liquid reduced by the ice content) in a “waxed” or “plastic” coated cup with a “plastic” lid and “plastic” straw.

    Stan, FK, or anybody have a comparative analysis on this choice?

    The best option would have been to get a double tall cappuccino in my own travel mug, but that store was not open at the time 🙁

  • Hi UnaDoug,

    I do not have a short and easy answer. In my time, I commissioned a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), the largest in its kind comparing PET to glass, and the results were, basically, a status-quo.

    Much of this UnaDoug, is about attitude. Which is precisely, what this is all about. We, each individual, have a choice. The choice is not between glaas or PET, but between being responsible, or not.

    Do we go for Coke in plastic or glsss or canned, yet keep driving from A to B beyond the footprint we determine as environmentally sound? There are no easy answers. Instead, the answer lies in the mind and soul, of each individual who feels involved.

    That in short, is the dilemma Roz and each of us, face. Within this principle, Roz functions like a powerful multiplier, and her role is crucial, in making things happen. We are merely here to support her heroic actions, and keep things in balance.

    Roz, here is my support,.

  • UncaDoug,
    Good example of a guilty inducing decision. Here is a helpful suggestion; Get one of those stainless steel bottles from a camping supply store, or Walmart or where ever, fill it up in the morning before you leave the house, use that all day, and when you have no choice but to use a fast food restaurant (very understandable), hand them your bottle and ask for “plain tap water” with some ice in it if you’d like. All restaurants provide plain tap water for their customers. If they “have to” give it to you in a cup, then ask for no lid (reduces plastic) and no straw, then go to your car, or your bike, and decant the paper/wax cup of ice and water to your stainless steel bottle, and there you go! I think if you make a habit of taking the stainless steel bottle where ever you go, it will make a big difference in both convenience for you and reducing plastic use.

  • Good suggestions, and actually, once upon a time, I did give my stainless travel cup to the server at a McSomething, requesting iced tea. Dumbfounded, having no clue what to charge me, he waved me away — over to the dispenser with a distorted face that said, “go ahead help yourself, and don’t tell anybody.”

    I just did not happen to have the stainless travel cup with me this particular time, but you know what? I will keep one in the trunk from now on? For emergencies only! No, not that kind ;-D

  • An what would you do with a Brite filter when you were finished. Now you have a product that contains plastic, carbon and other materials for the filter, and concentrated toxins, minerals, bacteria, and chemicals that have been filtered out.

    As stated by a previous post, the carbon footprint by hauling products in glass would be enormous. The weight of glass vs modern plastics is too great. A more practical solution would be to develop an alternative plastic that is biodegradable by either the UV in sunlight, sea water or a component of sea water, or a naturally ocurring bacteria.

    Henry Ford did an amazing amount of research working with soybeans and I believe he did develop a plastic. Unfortunately most soy based products tend to have a really bad smell.

    Biodegradable packaging would also tend to reduce the shelf life of the products in many cases and who can really predict the environmental impacts of such a technology.

  • @FK in Belgium – You are incorrect in definitively stating that PET is environmentally benign. New research has demonstrated that it most likely does release endocrine disruptors under common use conditions. Proposed mechanisms include leaching of phthalates as well as leaching of antimony. Here is a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives on the topic:

    http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.0901253

    In addition, there are other issues that make the recycling process of PET environmentally unfriendly, such as the amount of energy it requires. Then, of course, there’s the issue of all the plastic that does NOT get recycled, much of which ends up in the digestive tract of living creatures, where there’s no debate at all about it’s toxicity. So, Roz is correct – the world would be a much better place without plastic containers, regardless of recycling.

  • We have to change our thinking, from hanging on to the idea of having bottled water and other beverages. David Suzuki suggests that we should drink tap water, no shipping, no plastic containers. If the water isn’t safe to drink then he suggests you get out there and demand safe drinking water, you know, get involved! Bottled water is ludicrous, I feel like such a chump a few years ago when I would drink nothing else but Evian water, no tap water was good enough for me, it was like a water drinking disorder.

  • Interestingly not yet mentioned here: disposable diapers! Each baby goes through approximately 5,000 before they are potty-trained–yet babies in many countries never see or wear a diaper–ever! These are truly nasty things to go in a landfill that make plastic water bottles look good by comparison, even if parents “clean” them first. They have become so much the norm that most young moms never even think about other options–yet they exist–tons of clever improvements on the old plastic pants to cover cloth diapers; diaper services that launder and replace used cloth diapers with clean fresh ones–by far less expensive than disposables, and the newest old thing: diaper-free babies: in which mothers learn to recognize their babies’ cues for the need to eliminate just as they learn when their babies are hungry, and hold them over a tiny baby potty—using leggings, crotchless pants and other convenient forms of clothing that permit a rapid response to babies’ needs.

    I, for one, would be thrilled to see more young mothers supported to find a more environmentally-friendly way of managing the toileting needs of babies—we pay a HUGE price for the convenience of disposables and I don’t see much going on to change this¸ though I do try discussing it with moms when I get the opportunity.

  • Roz, I would love to come to Perth! What a wonderful idea, getting a group of us together to send you off!! Count me in!
    Glad you saw the crescent moon…here is to good rowing, and good progress – all the best!

  • Aloha from China Roz! I would love help celebrate down under with you next year. Keep in touch about that. Not sure how it’ll work taking more time off, I keep pretending like I don’t really have a job and have lots of money, and I know it’ll catch up with me soon, but hey, live while you’re living, right?!!! You’ve got some crazy stories posted recently. Sounds like you’ve gotta keep your clothes on more these days, shoots 😉 Lots of aloha to you from China. A las ninas* Mariya

  • 38,000,000,000 water bottles built in the US each year – 33,000,000,000 are not recycled! 22% recycle rate in the US. How much energy does it take to make the bottle, process the water, ship it, store it, refrigerate it and then recycle it?? for a few minutes of use. Out of the 22% recycled where does it get shipped to? what does it actually turn into? Every new bottle is of virgin plastic.

    Banning the bottle is making a statement that people want change which is a good starting point but we need more … After looking at this for several years I decided that we need a real solution that creates a new way to get high quality good tasting water without the garbage. It will start with Water bottles because it is easy but we need to change the whole drink paradigm. The answer is good filtration at the tap for the best tasting water with re-usable bottles. Easy at home but the systems have not been created for “on the go”. So I spent the last two years doing it but it is not easy to change the world…

    I partnered with a team of the best filtration experts in the US and we have designed 3 models of small footprint filtration machines for coffee, convenience and fast food – that dispense 2 types of water, chilled, bubbly and/or add a shot of flavour. We created a 2 tap system (flat & Bubbly) for restaurants & hotels and a vending machine that dispenses into your own bottle. The WaterBar is ready to go with proto types made, a large convenience store chain in Canada close to jumping in… if you know of some smart eco-investors we can be in the market in 60-90 days. I have self funded to this point (I put my money where my mouth is) and now we need some help for the launch.

    Banning – says the market wants change and according to the capitalist system it is up to the market to react and change the system. What do you think? I loved the dialogue because I believe we are ready to change. Thanks to Roz for bringing attention and discussion to the important issues we need to solve!! I hope you see more than plastic on our beautiful oceans!!

  • I like Richard in Austin’s idea

    SAVE THE WHALE,
    DRINK SOME ALE.

    I can already see the T shirt!!

    Perth sounds great, count me in!!

  • hallo, i am from germany so my english knowledge is not that amazing. Please dont blame me. I try to read blogs to make my english better and i just want to say that your blog was perfect readable for me, because the english is really clear-thinking and all the article are perfect readable. I will come back, to improve my english even more. Thanks a lot 🙂

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