Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wildlife At Pine Knoll Shores

  1. If you visit the Aquarium take a stroll on the boardwalk! Volunteers with binoculars will point out hidden wildlife

solar trash cans                          
These new Wake Forest solar trash cans compact waste and email officials when they are full

Friday, July 29, 2016

Steel is the most recycled material in the world

ArcelorMittal USA          
Steel is the most recycled material in the world:

Waste Dive

NWRA, announce new shared positions on market challenges:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Talking Trash is Green

This is a reminder that our Newsletter, Talking Trash, has gone green.  Every quarter we will post the newsletter on our website  Here is the link: 
We are no longer mailing the newsletter.  We are saving our natural resources and money. 
If you have a subject you would like to see covered in the newsletter, please let us know.  If you would like to be taken off of our list, let us know that as well.
We are happy to offer tours of the Tuscarora Landfill or we will go to your classroom or organization with a presentation.  Call Bobbi Waters at 252-633-1564

Steel has no memory

Science Channel          
Steel from old bridges can be recycled into turntables!


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Old Burying Ground cleanup

Town of Beaufort, NC                          
An Old Burying Ground cleanup effort will begin at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 30. Volunteers are encouraged to bring a...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

North Carolina Clean Marinas

Tuesday, July 26, 2016
The Bald Head Island marina on Bald Head Island, and the Deep Point and Indigo Plantation marinas in Southport are the newest facilities to be certified as North Carolina Clean Marinas, a designation given to marinas that exceed minimum regulatory requirements.
The Clean Marina program illustrates how marina operators can help safeguard the environment by using best management and operation techniques that exceed environmental requirements. To earn the certification, the marina’s owners prepare spill prevention plans and conduct safety and emergency planning. Marina operators also control boat maintenance activities to protect water quality.
Clean Marina is a voluntary program in which marina operators who choose to participate must complete an evaluation form about their use of specific best management practices. If a marina meets criteria developed by the state coastal management agency, it will be designated as a Clean Marina. Such marinas are eligible to fly the Clean Marina flag and use the logo in their advertising. The flags signal to boaters that a marina cares about the cleanliness of area waterways.
Clean Marina is a nationwide program developed by the National Marine Environmental Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to clean up waterways for better recreational boating. The foundation encourages states to adapt Clean Marina principles to fit their own needs.
The North Carolina program is a partnership between the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, N.C. Boating Industry Services, the N.C. Marine Trade Association, the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, N.C. Sea Grant, the U.S. Power Squadron, and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
For more information about clean marinas and how to apply for Clean Marina status, go to

Monday, July 25, 2016

Republic Services

Republic Services                           
Serving our customers while fostering a sustainable   is work worth doing.

NC Coastal Reserve

Hey teachers! DYK we offer curricula on for all different grades? Check it out:
Hey teachers! DYK we offer curricula on for all different grades? Check it out:

Saturday, July 23, 2016

State Parks and Waterfalling

Waterfalls are probably the most attractive -- and most dangerous -- natural features at our state parks. Here's a great article on how to go "Waterfalling" safely:…/go-waterfalling-ne…/86958076/
Photographer and 'waterfaller' Kevin Adams has released “North Carolina Waterfalls."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

5 Recyclables to Craft

The List: 5 Recyclables to Craft for Bored Kids

Written by
Stave off summer doldrums with these fun craft ideas using recyclables.

Day 1 of summer vacation, 8 a.m.: My 7-year-old daughter Sadie announces, “I’m bored.”
Pinterest and my recycling bin to the rescue: After a quick breakfast, I had both girls happily dipping newspapers into a glue mixture to make a paper mache lamp.
The dog days of summer can quickly become the “dull days” of summer if you don’t plan enough fun activities for your kids. But instead of running to the craft store for kits and supplies, take stock at home first. Household objects, recyclables, and kitchen staples can all be used for crafting, which helps teach kids that they can give old stuff new life.
Inspiration comes from many sources, but Pinterest is my favorite resource for getting kid-friendly, upcycled craft projects. Take a look at some of my favorites, then grab your kids and start digging through your own recycling bin for treasures!
Glass Jars: Save up those pickle and jam jars and turn them into garden lanterns with a little tissue paper, or even create an aquarium for a “pet fish” that really moves. Or create a terrarium inside a jar.
Tissue Boxes: Don’t recycle those tissue boxes! Don’t you know that they could become a whale, monster feet, or a marshmallow catapult? Musically inclined kids might also like to try their hand at turning empty tissue boxes into a guitar.
Old T-Shirts: For T-shirts of all sizes that are stained, outgrown, or worn-out, there is plenty of opportunity to use them for craft projects. Older kids will enjoy cutting them into strips and weaving them into baskets or using them to make bangle bracelets (hit the thrift store to find inexpensive bangles you can use as the base). Or, with white T-shirts, tie-dye the easy way by drawing designs with Sharpie pens, then spraying with rubbing alcohol.
Newspaper: Roll up big sheets of newspaper to make a large-scale building set, or let them channel their inner designer to create costumes for a newspaper fashion show. You can also decoupage the newspaper onto balls to get a head start on making ornaments for the tree or fold newspaper into little starter pots to grow some seeds.
Shoeboxes: Sturdy and sized just right, a shoebox makes a great starting point for a wide variety of crafts and projects. You can make a parking deck for Matchbox cars, a bedroom for a favorite doll, or even a light-up theater.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

End Littering and Improve Recycling

Sneak Peek: State Leaders brainstorm on how to end littering, improve recycling & beautify communities

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Marsh monitoring

Liked by NorthCarolinaEE and NC Aquarium at PKS
Marsh monitoring took place near the . This data helps determine natural variability of our marshes.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Chattanooga's Green Pucketts's

Puckett's Chattanooga is our first restaurant to be certified with Tennessee Green Hospitality by the !

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Go Green with Bamboo Fencing

Go Green with Bamboo Fencing
green bamboo fence
There are many ways to go green and make a positive impact on the environment, from recycling to choosing locally grown produce to using compact fluorescent light bulbs.
One great way to go green is to use bamboo as a building material, and one of the most striking and the most practical uses of bamboo is in fencing. Choosing bamboo fencing is a smart alternative you can feel good about as it is highly sustainable, durable and beautiful.


Bamboo is the largest member of the grass-family and is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth. Unlike trees, which can take decades to grow large enough to be used for building material, individual bamboo stems emerge from the ground at their full diameter and grow to their full height in just three to four months. Most bamboo shoots will continue to grow from the stalk at the point where they were cut, whereas trees must be replanted after they have been felled for their wood.
Because traditional hardwood trees take a long time to reach maturity, plantations have to be large in order to be economical. When the trees are cut down, the process is usually done in large swaths of forest, and while this is usually done as a regeneration harvest (meaning the trees are replanted), growth of new trees takes so long that it is akin to deforestation. In addition to being harmful to inhabitant animals, deforestation reduces the contribution of trees to the reduction of greenhouse gasses in the air. This is why choosing bamboo over traditional wood is a wonderful alternative and a great way to go green. Additionally, you can feel good knowing bamboo is grown without using chemical fertilizers or pesticides.


Bamboo is aparticularly durable wood that can stand up to the elements: extreme hot or cold temperatures and high humidity levels. Because of this, bamboo fencing will last much longer than traditional fencing, such as cedar. Since the rounded canes permit the wind to pass through the bamboo fence, it is guaranteed to withstand even hurricane-strength winds.
Bamboos are also naturally resistant to invasive insects compared to other types of wood. Termites, one of the most common problems for traditional wood fences, cannot digest bamboo and therefore avoid it. Bamboo fencing will last decades, even in the harshest climates and the most notorious pests.
bamboo fence


Bamboo fencing comes in a variety of aesthetically pleasing and eco-friendly design concepts that easily blend in to the landscape and bring a unique beauty to any enclosure. With its natural wood-grain style, bamboo can provide you with the privacy of a traditional fence while bringing an exotic tropical look to your yard. You can relax in its beauty while feeling good about yourself and your contribution to the environment.
In addition to their sustainability, durability, and aesthetics, bamboo fences are cost-effective and easy to install. If you are considering a fence for your yard, choose to go green and select the option that is best for you and for the environment: the bamboo fencing design concept. You can never go wrong with it.

Author Bio:

Todd Huff is Charlotte Landscaper who works with Ultimate Greenscapes specializing in landscape design management. Todd has over three decades designing outdoor living spaces that utilize local plants and foliage to create sustainable, easy-to-care-for designs

Friday, July 15, 2016

NC Aquarium at PKS. Raise a fin or a flipper!

NC Aquarium at PKS                           
Raise your hand (or fin or flipper) if you're ready for the weekend!

Learn how to reduce home waste

You may know how to recycle, but do you know how to reduce? Learn how to reduce home waste.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Shark Week

NC Aquarium at PKS                            
It's at the Aquarium. Come learn about sharks like this bonnethead- the smallest species of hammerhead.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Help Recycle

Recycling the easier it is the more people are likely to recycle. Always made it simple, easy and fun to recycle. Help Recycle

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Manatee In NC

NC Aquarium at PKS                          
If you spot a marine mammal in NC call NC Marine Mammal Stranding Network 2522415119 pic wayne justice

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Women in Waste spotlight:

Women in Waste spotlight: Big Truck Rental's Jeanie Dubinski on demanding a presence

"I think it's very important to be right and wrong," said Big Truck Rental President Jeanie Dubinski during a recent WasteExpo 2016 panel on women leaders in waste & recycling. "You learn so much from being wrong ... I tell my kids, I tell my employees, 'Try and fail.' We will get so much farther if we try and fail instead of just sitting on ideas."
The morning following her inspiring panel, Dubinski walked the stage at the National Waste & Recycling Association's Awards Breakfast to be honored as a Member of the Year. After starting her career in the waste industry about eight years ago, Dubinski has been an example for industry women on the power that having confidence and a strong voice can unlock. Having served as a president on NWRA's Women's Council, Dubinski has dedicated her career not only to improving the garbage hauling industry, but also empowering women to reach for the top. 
For our fourth installment of the "Women in Waste" spotlight series, Waste Dive caught up with Dubinski to get her perspectives on leadership, networking and bringing young women into the industry.

Waste Dive: Would you mind giving me a brief overview of how you got started in waste?

JEANIE DUBINSKI: By education, I am an attorney. Initially I was a trial attorney for eight years before I made the switch to garbage and I basically got my start with Waste Pro. I knew the CEO John Jennings personally, the company was at a time where they were ready to bring someone in-house, and since we knew each other and I had focused a lot of business litigation, I decided I'd go in with Waste Pro.

When you were first starting out in the industry, did you face any challenges or pushback for being a woman?

DUBINKSI: Certainly. I think it's just sort of natural that most of the men in the waste industry, especially in garbage hauling companies and divisions, they aren't used to dealing with a lot of women. Certainly they weren't used to dealing with a woman in an executive position, so I think certainly there was some natural intimidation from them. Not that they were intimidating me, I think they were just a little intimidated by me. They weren't sure who I was or what I was doing ... From my perspective I never really had hostility or a lot of negativity toward me, I think it was more just the environment of garbage for so long had been men and a few women who were probably their equals or below in their eyes. So I think it was more shocking to them that they were now dealing with somebody who was in a more powerful position.

Do you think that's something that's going to start changing?

DUBINSKI: I sure do hope so. I think it's a challenge to draw women into the industry, although I found at my panel and after the panel, so many women came up to me. Even women in leadership, in smaller companies doing their things who we don't really see on the national stage. I was so encouraged to meet these women and connect with them and hear their stories and just to know that they're out there ... I think we're probably more [represented in] numbers than we realize, we just don't see that a lot on the national stage.

There's definitely a deficit of young women joining the industry. What do you think is the best way to tackle that and how do we present the industry as something that's enticing to get young women involved?

DUBINSKI: I really struggle with this because I think it's hard to draw in young women because I think that stigma is, "it's a man's industry, it's a man's world." ... I think it's probably a little more intimidating for women because it is such a traditionally male-dominated industry. So I'm not sure how we really break down that barrier. Women's Council has the scholarship program that we do that's given out to students—primarily women out there, but we do give it to men—whose aspirations are to study in a field that will take them into the solid waste and recycling industry ... I think that if we can get into the colleges in sort of a recruiting fashion, that would open us up to so much more diversity that we could really start drawing in some people. I think it's really an education piece that we need to communicate to the job departments at these colleges and let them know that this is a good industry to work in. I don't know that that's being done. I certainly didn't see it when I went to college.

At WasteExpo you were honored with the Member of the Year Award. What does this mean for you and your commitment to the industry?

DUBINSKI: Wow. It's such a huge honor. As soon as I joined Waste Pro I got very active in [NWRA]. At the time, Bruce Parker was CEO of the association ... He sort of just took me under his wing, he got me introduced to a lot of people, we had very similar backgrounds. From my perspective it made all the difference in the world for me getting comfortable very quickly in this industry ... It's a very close-knit industry and we all like to do business with our friends and we want to be good partners to each other, and I think it's very important that you have a personal relationship in order to be a good partner to someone, so very quickly I developed some great relationships across the industry ... I got to a place where I certainly didn't have all the answers or know very much about the industry but I knew who to call very soon after joining the industry. That has just continued to grow, so NWRA from my perspective has been number one most important for networking for me ... The association has really just made all the difference for me really having my success that I've had up to this day.

What sort of legacy do you wish to have in the industry?

DUBINSKI: I was so lucky to work for Waste Pro and really get the haulers' perspective, which made a huge difference when I came to Big Truck Rental. I was really the first executive here at Big Truck Rental who came from the hauling side and really brought the experience to understand our customer, which is so important regardless which side of the fence you're on—if you haven't been the customer or you haven't been the vendor, it's very hard to put yourself in the other shoes and understand their needs. I think I brought that level to our business and it's really taken us in a great direction ... Big Truck Rental has so many opportunities and so many different ways we can grow, and I'm sort of like a kid in a candy story. I see so many opportunities and so much excitement, but we have to be very smart about it ... As the industry continues to grow and prosper, Big Truck Rental will continue to grow and prosper, so it's just a matter of strategically knowing what's smart for the patterns we take.

What advice do you have for women that want to seek similar leadership positions that you've had, but may be hesitant to do so?

DUBINSKI: Most importantly, don't be afraid to be wrong and to make a mistake. I think a lot of times women naturally are a lot more conservative when we pick a direction in our brains. We sort of pause and we over-analyze a million different outcomes, and sometimes we have to follow that gut instinct ... Demand to have a presence and don't be afraid to speak your voice and sit at the table. It's very important that we position ourselves as strength and not as weakness. It's as simple as walking in a room and sitting at the board table or sitting in the chair in the corner. If you want to be in leadership, you need to sit at the table and you need to participate. And maybe that means the first couple times you sit there you're listening, but eventually you need to start talking. You cant really learn until you try. And it's OK to fail; you need to fail, it's the only way you really learn and grow.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Is Aluminum Foil Recyclable?

Written by Recyclebank .            
Aluminum cans are one of the most recycled materials, so there’s no reason why aluminum foil shouldn’t be as well — right?
Dear Recyclebank: Can I recycle aluminum foil? –Linda W.

Dear Linda: Aluminum itself is one of the most recyclable — and indeed, one of the most recycled — materials around. According to the Aluminum Association, nearly 75 percent of all the aluminum produced in the US is still in use today, thanks to recycling efforts and the fact that it can be recycled again and again without its quality diminishing.

While most recycled aluminum is in the form of cans, aluminum foil is technically recyclable, but there’s a catch: It needs to be clean — that is, free of food residue, as grease or food residue can contaminate the other recyclables during the recycling process. In part because of the issues with contamination, and the reality that most people are unlikely to rinse their aluminum foil before recycling it, some waste haulers will not accept aluminum foil for recycling; the damage soiled aluminum foil does to other recyclables can outweigh the benefit of trying to recycle the aluminum foil.

Before you put your foil in the recycling bin, make sure your local recycling program accepts it; not all of them do. Incidentally, usually if foil is accepted, disposable aluminum baking pans also will be. Just be sure to only recycle aluminum foil that is clean, even if it means rinsing it off first. (And as long as you’re cleaning it, you might as well reuse it a couple of times first!)

If you are able to recycle your aluminum foil locally, pat yourself on the back: Recycled aluminum saves more than 90 percent of the energy needed to produce virgin aluminum, and it’s one of the most valuable recyclable materials. Its recycling lifecycle is also relatively quick: An aluminum can that’s put in a recycling bin can be back on the shelves, as another can, in as little as two months. You can even buy aluminum foil that is made of recycled aluminum.

If you’re not ready yet to relegate aluminum foil to the recycling bin or the trash can, you might be able to give clean pieces another life — there are other uses for aluminum foil besides wrapping up leftovers.

Sources: Aluminum Association

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Recyclebank’s Top 10 Ways To R-R-R At Your Next B-B-Q


Recyclebank’s Top 10 Ways To R-R-R At Your Next B-B-Q

Written by Recyclebank .    
You can have the hottest and greenest barbecue of the summer, no matter what your preferred BBQ style is. Here’s how, from grill to décor.

Summer: The time to become a mean green grilling machine… or at least, to choose one. From the type of grill you use all the way to your post-food-coma cleanup, there are tons of ways to reduce waste at your backyard barbecues (and maybe even reduce your carbon footprint while you’re at it).

Here are our best suggestions for working toward a waste-free BBQ, no matter what your set-up is:

There are many options to choose from when it comes to purchasing a grill, and we’re weighing the pros and cons of each. But if you’ve already got a grill, no worries — we’ve also got ways to make your cooking method of choice as sustainable as possible.

1. If you’re choosing charcoal:
Charcoal is often thought of as the least green option for your grill, but it is still a popular choice since it’s known for making food taste much more delicious. One way to make this choice better is to make sure you use all wood lump charcoal, as opposed to synthetic briquettes that usually contain harmful chemicals. This way, if you do go the charcoal route, you can dispose of the ashes in your compost pile afterward (instead of trashing them).
Read More: Because You Asked: How Should I Get Rid of Grill Ashes?
2. If you’re grilling with gas:
Gas is usually thought of as the greener alternative when compared to charcoal, since it releases much less CO2. However, it still has some drawbacks, since it still has to burn natural gas or propane in order to run. One obvious plus to this method is that no ashes are created like those from charcoal, and the gas tanks can usually be refilled (and if they can’t be refilled, they’re generally accepted at household hazardous waste events), so there’s virtually no landfill-bound waste! Plus, gas grills offer another opportunity for improvement: You can reduce the amount of gas you use overall by maintaining a constant temperature while cooking and shutting off the grill as soon as you’re done — savings that can’t be achieved with charcoal, as there’s much less control.
Read More: Proper Green: The Great Grill Debate, Charcoal vs. Gas
3. If your grill’s electric:
Like gas grills — and unlike cooking with charcoal — electric grills eliminate ash waste. But unlike gas grills, they remove the hassle of refilling a gas tank or figuring out how to dispose of one properly. If you’re still looking for some way to make this option even better, you can make sure the electric that you’re using to power the grill comes from a sustainable source such as solar or wind power.
Read More: The Thrill of the Grill: A Resource for Green Grilling
4. And if you’re looking to soak up the sun…
Okay, so it’s not really a grill… and it might not be your first choice out of all these options, BUT, solar cooking is by far the clear winner when it comes to a grilling carbon footprint, and it creates absolutely no new waste each time it’s used. The general idea is that one of these ovens will simply use heat from the sun to cook all of your food. That’s it. And they’re not necessarily expensive: You could build your own at home rather than buying one.
Read More: The List: 7 Ways to Incorporate Solar Power into Your Life

Ah, the food. Make your menu unforgettable by opting to make more of your own treats from scratch instead of relying on store-bought ones. Not only will these ideas go a long way toward cutting down on food waste — and since we throw away 30% of all the food we have each year, this is super important — they’ll also help cut down on waste from food packaging.
5. Cut down on food waste:
There are simple ways to reduce food waste when you’re prepping, and it all has to do with what makes the cut, literally. Try to use up the whole vegetable, from the leaves to the good stuff (like carrots in pesto made from their own leaves!).
Read More: 5 Cooking Habits That Reduce Food Waste
6. Make your own grocery staples:
Baked beans and backyard BBQs go together like peanut butter and jelly. But instead of buying pre-made baked beans, you can make your own (it’s not that hard, we swear, and you might even save some money by doing so). Another great homemade staple? Salad dressing — which will go great with any salad you serve to balance out the heavier grilled foods — is usually just a matter of shaking up a few pantry staples you already have on hand. When you make homemade grocery staples, you’ll often create less packaging waste than you would have if you bought the individual items instead… and all of your guests will be impressed that you made your own — they don’t need to know how easy it was ;)
Read More: The List: 4 More Grocery Staples You Should Make Yourself
7. Pack up the leftovers:
As you make the BBQ menu, make yourself a leftovers plan, too, so you can use the leftovers throughout the week ahead (especially if you’re making your own grocery staples). Then, as plates are clearing, grab some reusable containers and fill them up (if it’s a party, you might even tell your friends beforehand to bring some containers, and share the wealth)! If there are any leftovers that can’t be salvaged, be sure to compost them.
Read More: Reuse Your Food: A Week’s Meal Plan Makes the Most of Leftovers

Here comes the fun part: The party. After all, if you’re grilling up some goodies, you probably want to share them. Here are some happy hosting tips that will make it easy for your guests to create less waste, and to recycle the waste they do create.
8. Switch to sustainable utensils and plates:
Ditch disposable and show off some style with your reusable flatware. You can even take odds and ends from your indoor sets and mash them together for a fun mismatched look. Alright… if you must go the disposable route, at least choose ones like those made of tapioca, which can be composted or possibly even recycled afterward.
Read More: Because You Asked: What Kinds of Disposable Plates Can I Recycle?
9. Choose cloth napkins and table cloths:
Table cloths and napkins for outdoor parties tend to be cheap and disposable. Break the habit for both and use real cloth! It will give your backyard a more home-y feel, and all you have to do is throw them all in the wash when you’re done and they’ll be ready to use again.
Read More: 7 Tips For Backyard Entertaining
10. Make recycling easy for guests:
Be sure to have some clearly labeled bins near your feast to make sure everything gets disposed of properly. You can even get super specific, and include images and names of what goes in each, since you’ll know everything that’s being served and used. This way, you can make sure everything makes its way to the right bin and it’ll be even easier for your friends to do it right!
Read More: Because You Asked: How Should I Put Out My Recycling?


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The plastic plague: Can our oceans be saved from environmental ruin?

The plastic plague: Can our oceans be saved from environmental ruin?

Story highlights

  • An estimated eight million tons of plastic enter the oceans every year
  • There will be more plastic than fish in oceans by 2050, experts say
(CNN)The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has become the stuff of legend. This hotspot of marine waste, created by the spiral currents of the North Pacific Gyre, has been described as a floating trash island the size of Russia.
But when filmmaker Jo Ruxton visited the location, she found clear blue water, and a deep-rooted problem.
    Location and currents of the North Pacific Gyre.
    "If you were diving, it looked like you had just jumped out of a plane," says Ruxton. "But our nets were coming up completely choked with plastic pieces."
    The pieces were small enough to mingle with plankton, the tiny organisms at the base of the food web that support many fish and whale species. Researchers have found 750,000 microplastic pieces per square kilometer in the Garbage Patch, and the marine life is riddled with them.
    "This was much more insidious than a huge mountain of trash which could be physically removed," says Ruxton. "You can't remove all the tiny pieces."

    Rising tide

    Ruxton visited the site while producing the film "A Plastic Ocean," in association with NGO Plastic Oceans, which documents the impact of half a century of rampant plastic pollution.
    Around eight million tons of plastic enter the marine environment each year, and the figure is set to rise. The Ellen Macarthur Foundation estimates that 311 million tons of plastic were produced in 2014, which will double within 20 years, and projects that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.
    Plastic is a remarkably durable material, with a potential lifespan of centuries. It does not biodegrade, but photodegrades under sunlight, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces, which attract toxins and heavy metals as they travel on the tides. Plastic is pulled together in the powerful, circling currents of gyres, but it is also found in Arctic ice, washing up on remote islands, and infesting tourist destinations.
    Ruxton's crew visited dozens of locations without escaping the plastic plague. They found it covering the Mediterranean Sea bed, the shorelines of Bermuda, and Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea, a World Heritage site that has been severely affected.
    "We kept coming across dead chicks," Ruxton recalls of Howe Island. "We opened 10 of their stomachs which were so full of plastic they were swollen ... These birds were dying of starvation with their stomachs bulging full."
    But the most disturbing find was on the South Pacific island of Tuvalu.

    Health impact

    Tuvalu was once a pristine beauty spot. But the island lacks the infrastructure to dispose of the plastic it imports, which has become a serious hazard for the local population.
    "People were just throwing plastic outside," says Ruxton. "They were drowning in the stuff, and trying to burn it. There was a constant pall of black smoke, and people were always exposed to the gases that come out when you burn plastic, including two very scary ones that have been linked to cancer, dioxins and furans."
    From a group of 30 islanders featured in the film, five had cancer and two have died in the last 18 months, Ruxton says. She is raising funds to research the health impact of burning plastic.
    Plastic waste in Tuvalu.
    The team is also studying the effects of ingesting seaborne plastic through a partnership with toxicology specialists at London's Brunel University. Studies have shown a quarter of food fish sold at markets in California and Indonesia contain plastic, and although this has not yet resulted in public health warnings, tests have shown ingestion can cause tumors in lab animals.
    Californian oceanographer Captain Charles J. Moore, who first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and studies the impact of seaborne plastic, feels the "jury is still out" on the effects of ingestion on human health. But he believes our exposure is rapidly increasing, particularly through the spread of microplastics.
    "Plastic is in the air we breathe, it's become part of the soil and the animal kingdom," says Moore. "We're becoming plastic people."

    Counting the cost

    Moore believes we do not fully comprehend the damage caused by plastic pollution, largely as the gyres where it collects have been ignored.
    "The gyres are 40% of the world ocean -- one third of the planet," says Moore. "But these areas are not part of any exclusive economic zone, they are not used for the shipment of goods, they are not harvested for marine resources, and their welfare is no one's concern ... I'm convinced we haven't scraped the surface of the damage being done."
    From his own research, the volume of plastic has tripled in the gyres since the turn of the century, and plastic is disproportionately consumed by fish at the bottom of food chains, leading to rapid and deadly proliferation.
    "It is impossible to quantify death in the ocean as weak and dying creatures are so rapidly consumed," says Moore. He believes U.N. estimates that plastic kills around one million sea creatures a year far understate the impact.
    Sea turtle tangled in plastic fishing gear.
    The U.N.'s Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Protection (GESAMP) has conducted several recent studies of plastic pollution and found far-reaching effects.
    "If we don't do anything, we will see certain species disappear," says GESAMP Chairman Peter Kershaw, citing the toll of entanglement and ingestion on endangered seals and whales. "In wider ecosystems, (plastic) certainly has an impact on sensitive habitats, including coral reefs."
    Kershaw also highlights the economic impact. Plastic causes $13 billion of damage to the marine environment each year according the UN, which affects the fishing, shipping and tourism industries.

    Getting a grip

    The issue of plastic pollution has gained traction over the past decade, which has seen research increase, and the launch of major initiatives such as the Global Partnership on Marine Litter, bringing together policymakers, conservationists and business interests to pursue solutions.
    Kershaw believes the key is to end the culture of disposable plastic, and implement closed loop systems for the material to be reused, which would reduce the demand for new production. Around 80% of plastic waste in the oceans originates on land, and recycling rates are poor, with just 9% of plastic in the U.S. recycled, according to the EPA.
    Plastic waste in Manila, Philippines, one of the worst affected areas.
    "We're suffering from a linear approach," he says. "We need to design waste out of the system."
    Kershaw adds that incentive schemes have proved effective. Charging consumers for plastic bags has reduced their use, and introducing refundable deposits for plastic bottles has created a market for collectors in Ecuador. Kershaw sees a role for entrepreneurs to redesign popular goods, such as an initiative to make tiles from discarded fishing nets in the Philippines.
    Emerging technologies are contributing to the struggle. Captain Moore uses separation machines to improve recycling and spare plastic pickers from dangerous work. Dutch entrepreneur Boyan Slat is testing a prototype of his Ocean Cleanup machine that he believes could clear 99% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within 30 years, although many conservationists are skeptical.
    NOAA beach cleaning operation in Hawaii.
    "We are more focused on stopping pollution getting into the oceans," says Nancy Wallace, director of the marine debris program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which leads beach cleaning and public education campaigns. "Ocean cleanups are like mopping the floor with the faucet still running."
    The plastics industry also has a critical role, and leaders recognize the imperative to reform.
    "Our number one priority is tackling marine litter," says Karl H. Foerster, head of industry association Plastics Europe. "We fully support the circular economy concept."
    Foerster cites 260 initiatives the group has launched, from removing microplastics to improving wastewater treatment in developing countries, and developing biodegradable plastic.

    Tipping point

    Jo Ruxton wants to see greater responsibilities placed on plastic producers, such as in Germany where strict recycling quotas forced companies to use less plastic. Similar quotas will soon be introduced across the European Union.
    But the filmmaker is encouraged by the increased focus on the issue in recent years, and is confident that greater public awareness can have a significant impact.
    "If people realize how easy it is to make changes, and if they understand the consequences of not doing so, they want to change," she says.
    Ruxton stresses that time is short. If the culture does not change imminently, more communities will face a grim fate.
    "We're at a tipping point," she says. "I see Tuvalu as a snapshot of the future for all of us if we don't get this addiction under control."

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