Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Who wants to live forever? Even plastic doesn't.

This video makes me cry. It really does. Plastic is amazing. It's durable and beautiful. But who wants to live forever after being used, discarded, torn, broken, faded, melted, eaten, and buried. It's touched, grabbed, held, hugged, sucked, and  loved for a few seconds to a few hours, and it becomes a nuisance, a burden, and a murderer of millions. We created it and we don't know what to do with it any more. It reminds me of Edward Scissorhands. It's sad for the victims, but it's sad for plastic itself.

Somebody called it "Planet Trash". I almost said, "Trash Planet". But that's too cruel to both the planet and the trash. Maybe, TRASH is us, humans. We appeared on this planet and trash it and will disappear someday. like a plague. I hope we find vaccine before we are gone.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to make your Halloween ocean friendly

Halloween is right around the corner! It's fun, fun, fun!
Have you decided what costumes you are going to wear this year?

Halloween is the first exciting event to start the holiday season. We can't miss it. However, we produce so much trash every holiday party, especially plastic trash. Candy wrappers, candy bags, ornaments, plates, and utensils are mostly plastic. You use them once and toss them away. What a waste that is! Then, those small plastic trash can easily go to the ocean!

How do you make your Halloween ocean friendly? Just give up all? No. You still can have so much fun with trick or treat if you think outside of the candy box!

1.  Don't do last minute shopping and buy bags of candy wrapped in plastic. 
Make or bake fresh snack and put it in a bowl or a plate. Have kids pick/scoop it and put it in a paper bag. If you are too busy to make, buy sweet in bulk, or buy from a bakery. Some candy is in a paper box or wrapped in paper. Buy fruits and soda cans. Fruit comes with biodegradable skin and soda cans are recyclable.

2.  Carry a cloth/canvas reusable bag instead of a plastic shopping bag. Kids (and you) will be having too much fan and forget to recycle the plastic bag after the party. Most of Halloween bags are made of thin plastic and won't last long. Buy a durable reusable bag so that you can use it again and again. How about a pillow case? It did a great job when we were kids, didn't it? That's more traditional and give kids (and you) joy.

3.  If you are thinking about buying one of those molded plastic jack o lanterns and candy jars, remember that these specialty items are not recyclable, and require fossil fuels to make and transport. Use a real pumpkin, and Autumn flowers and leaves to decorate your house. After carving the pumpkin, you can eat, give it to animals/birds, or compose it.

4.  Don't use Silly String. I know it's fun. But it is made from plastic resin and is not biodegradable. It clogs up sewer system if it goes into a storm drain. If it reaches to the ocean, fish and marine animals most likely eat it, mistaking it for food.

5.  Use recycled costumes. You just wear only one day a year but you don't want to wear the same thing every year. So why not exchange with your friends and neighbors? Be creative and make your own. How about a Plastic Trash Zombie? Put all the "guilty" non-recyclable plastics from the past onto your clothes and have fun! Make sure that you DO NOT buy candy in plastic in order to make your costumes!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The 3 R's - Reduce Reuse Recycle,

Last Saturday was the Coastal Cleanup Day. To give applause to volunteers, we danced to my favorite song, Jack Johnson's "The 3 R's - Reduce Reuse Recycle" at Santa Monica beach. It is a fun song and always makes me smile.
While dancing, I was thinking about the lyrics.

If you're going to the market to buy some juice
You've got to bring your own bags and you learn to reduce your waste
And if your brother or your sister's got some cool clothes
You could try them on before you buy some more of those
Reuse, we've got to learn to reuse
And if the first two R's don't work out
And if you've got to make some trash
Don't throw it out

When I talk to someone about plastic pollution, about a half of people would proudly say, "I cut 6-pack rings before toss them.", "I buy/use biodegradable plastic", or "Oh, I always recycle." Yes, thank you, people. Those are nice. At least, it's nice to know that some people are conscious about plastic pollution. However, those actions are not enough to save the ocean, believe or not.

Cutting 6-pack rings prevent small animals from getting stuck in the rings. This information came out in the late 1970s when the environmentalists started to raise awareness of marine debris. It is true that birds and turtles can get caught in them and die, but between 1988 and 1998, U.S. cleanups uncovered 1,089 instances of animal entanglement, and only 72 (7 percent) involved six-pack rings. The rest, of course, was cause by other plastic debris.

Since 1989, under federal law, six-pack rings have been 100% photo-degradable(Photo-degradable plastics have a sun-sensitive component added that triggers a physical disintegration when exposed to sunlight). So, it is not really necessary to cut the 6-pack rings because they will break down to pieces in a few month anyway. (See Hi-Cone)

Does it mean that 6-pack rings are safe? No.
When plastic breaks down to pieces, it becomes more problematic. The small pieces of plastic mimic food. Those colorful plastic pieces look like krill, jellyfish, or fish eggs to birds, fish, and marine mammals. Plastic can suffocate them or block their digestive track. Plastic also absorbs toxic chemical materials such as PCB and DDT in the water and transfer them to animals.

If photo-degradable plastic is not good, is biodegradable plastic good? No.
Many people recently use biodegradable plastic bags, dog poop bags, food containers, or even diapers. But unless it is taken to a composting facility, biodegradable plastic will not biodegrade easily. If you toss your biodegradable plastic in a non-biodegradable plastic trash bag, it will be carried to a regular landfill and stay for 100s of years without breaking down.

So, the best thing is to recycle, right? No.
The carbon-footprint study, titled "PET’s carbon footprint: to recycle or not to recycle" found that in communities with limited infrastructure, recycling a plastic bottle can actually result in a bigger carbon footprint than simply throwing it in a landfill. The study concludes that the curbside take-back systems are no better than landfill. From a carbon-emissions standpoint, it would be just as well to bury used bottles as to recycle them. However, when plastic are buried, it leach harmful chemicals into the ground and potentially polluting the soil and water.

Should we reuse plastic items? No, not always.
You can reuse it as long as you don't put food in it. But if you put food or water, unless you wash and dry it properly, it may grow bacteria. You definitely do not want to heat plastic because it leach toxic chemicals.

Oh my. Is there any bright side of this story? Unfortunately, no.
Plastic will stay almost forever and keep harming animals and humans.
What we should do is to "Refuse" to buy/get single-use plastic.
Next time when I dance to "The 3R's", I would switch "Reuse" to "Refuse" for the 3 R's for plastic pollution since the 4 R's don't go with the rhythm.

We've got to learn to
Refuse, Reduce, Recycle
Refuse, Reduce, Recycle
Refuse, Reduce, Recycle
Refuse, Reduce, Recycle
Because three it's a magic number
Yes it is, it's a magic number

It's still such a fun song to dance! I love it!
Thanks to Jack Johnson for making this song!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Majestic Plastic Bag - Support the AB 1998!

I posted a short film, "Plastic Bag" by Ramin Bahrani a while ago. It was an excellent documentary (sort of) film of "Life of a Plastic Bag".
Heal the Bay has just released a shorter version of "Mockumentary" video to show more people how plastic bags end up in the ocean.

AB 1998 is now in the Senate for a floor vote, which is the last critical step before it becomes law, as the Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has already committed to signing it once it passes the Senate, making these next two weeks in the Senate critical to making this landmark bill law.

Please pick up the phone or send a letter via this link, A CALL TO ACTION. It takes only a minute or two! Be a part of the change!!!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Saving the Planet with George Carlin

Yes, I worry about everything. I worry about our oceans, rain-forests, endangered species, animals rights, foods and water, our future, our children's future, and our green planet Earth. I believe that we can make a change little by little to correct ourselves if we realize and act now. It's not too late. Let's be optimistic.

However, I can have a break from the worries for a little while with the late genius comedian, George Carlin. His wisdom and irony are outstanding and incomparable.

His rant was celebrated by many conservatives. But don't get him wrong. Listen carefully. He was not a global-warming denier. He was not conservative on the environmental issues. He was overly disappointed and a little more pessimistic about what human beings have done to this planet than us. In fact, he was a very much naturalist and almost suggesting Gaia thesis. He clearly saw the problem is humanity not a planet. He was criticizing those Hippocrates who have no learning curve.

He said, “People are selfish,” during the interview in the TV show "The View". “These people with the fires and the floods and everything, they overbuild and they put nature to the test, and they get what’s coming to them, that’s what I say. People think nature is outside of them. They don’t take into them the idea that nature is a part of them. Nature is in here (pointing his chest), and if you’re in tune with it, like the Indians, the balance of life, the harmony of nature, if you understand that, you don’t overbuild. You don’t do all this moron stuff.” He continued, "They want toys. Everybody wants the newest gizmo. We are slaves to gizmo and toys."

I see this all around me. You know, those who want to be in the safe natural environment while cutting trees and building homes in the nature and driving SUVs to get a pack of cigarettes or those who tell their kids to love animals and eat right while filling their refrigerators with hormone-loaded frozen dead animals.

Anyway, I just want to enjoy this legendary routine for a little while and go back to worry about everything to save the planet.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fight plastic pollution by supporting AB 1998!

Heal the Bay is sponsoring legislation this year that would significantly reduce plastic bag litter in our communities, on our beaches and in our oceans. With your help, California could be the first state in the country to adopt an aggressive policy to ban plastic carryout bags an large grocery stores, pharmacies and conveniences stores. Your immediate support is needed in helping to pass Assembly Bill 1998. Plastic pollution costs California taxpayers millions of dollars to clean-up, blights communities and threatens wildlife.

Your voice can make an incredible impact. Please help Heal the Bay by making a quick phone call to your District’s Assemblymember with the following message: “I am a member of your district and urge you to support AB 1998, the plastic bag ban bill.”

To find your Assemblymember, click here on the following link and enter your 5 digit zip code:

The 2 minutes you take to call could help protect our environment for generations to come!

You can also send a letter to Assemblymember Brownley expressing your support for AB 1998 by clicking here:

San Francisco, Malibu, Fairfax, and Palo Alto have banned plastic bags and at least 20 more cities in California are considering bans. AB 1998 will create one uniform policy for addressing all types of single-use bags to encourage consumers to use reusable bags, the most sustainable alternative.

If passed, AB 1998 would:

Ban single-use plastic bags at supermarkets, convenience stores and large retail establishments with pharmacies. The ban would not apply to bags used to carry bulk items, produce or raw meat to the checkout.
Limit the distribution of paper bags at these stores to encourage consumers to use reusable bags.
Require reusable bags to be available for purchase at these stores instead of using single-use carryout bags.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A short video of the facts of Plastic in the Ocean

When I talk about plastic trash in the ocean, the most common questions that I receive is "How does it get to the ocean?" I understand that people have a hard time to imagine that 75 to 80 % of plastic trash in the ocean is originated from the land instead of from the ships on the sea.
But when you watch this video, you can see that your everyday plastic trash is floating towards the ocean through the rivers. Los Angeles river that flows into the Long Beach Port is only 51 miles long. However, there are numerous creeks and storm drains are feeding into the river. If you see a plastic cup on the street in front of your house today, the chances of finding the same cup somewhere in the LA river in the future are extremely high.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Synthetics Sea - Plastic in the Ocean

I posted this last year. But this is a brand new version with more updated information.
Since the first version was made in 2001, many people started to realize the huge problem of plastic pollution in the oceans. So, things must have been improved, right? Surprisingly, the answer is NO. The situation got a lot worse. I mean, "A Lot".

It would take only 10 minutes of your time to find out what is really going on.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A life story of a Plastic Bag; A short film called "Plastic Bag"

Director, Ramin Bahrani made this heartbreaking life story of a plastic bag. The film personified a plastic grocery bag that was brought home from a store by a woman. The plastic bag does not end his life after carrying grocery home. As we all do, the woman reuses the bag for many different purposes and eventually, she tossed it into a trash can. However, his journey does not stop there either. Do you know why? Because plastic lasts more than 500 years, remember?

Please watch this short film. If you understand the beauty of the plastic bag in the movie "American Beauty", I am sure you will be touched by this.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wow.....This is not a TV show. It's really happening to our children.

Since I put my last blog, I wanted to see what kids were really eating. I don't have kids. So, I thought that I had to educate myself before criticizing anything or anybody.

I visited an intermediate school in one of the most wealthy towns in the U.S. Many parents of those students are lawyers, doctors, and successful business owners.

First, all the containers were Styrofoam. I guess they don't do dishes. Water came in plastic bottles, of course. There was NO student using a reusable food container or a canteen. As I watched a long line of students entering the cafeteria, all I could think about was how much non-recyclable plastic trash we would have in the campus within a half hour.

Second, the lunch menus were the choices from; Pepperoni-Cheese Pizza, Meatball Spaghetti, Fried Chickens, French Fries, Corn Dog, Corns, and Garlic Bread. By watching these prepared in the kitchen, I needed Pepto-Bismol. But for those students didn't seem to have that problems. They delightedly grabbed a box of Pizza or a plateful Spaghetti and washed it down with milk or water. They were busy talking each other and not really interested in what are going into their mouths.

I saw a few students had paper bags (lunch bags), so I asked some parents who were observing the scene. They said that their children were happy when the parents didn't have time to prepare lunch for them because they could eat whatever they wanted with their friends. The students were obviously having good time over these fatty greasy zero-nutritious food.

If you have watched a movie called, "Food Inc.", you would think about that hardworking low-income family that had to choose one from a hamburger or a piece of broccoli head. Because most of unhealthy foods are usually cheep and don't require much time to prepare, they chose a hamburger so that they can afford diabetes medications for the man of the house. I feel sorry for those people as much as I feel sorry for starving people in the world while America is feeding corn to make cows and chickens fat.

However, this is not the case. As I mentioned earlier, these students are from wealthy families. They have no problems to buy a bunch of broccoli heads as a side of a main dish. So, I thought they were eating healthy gourmet meals at home and their lunch was just an exception. "No.", said one of the mothers. "They eat pretty much the same things at home."

The problem is that these kids are way too busy. They are busy between school, homework, tutoring, soccer, dance, boy/girl scout, competitions, recitals, and so on. There is no time to sit down "with their family members" at the dining table for a full course meal. Mothers have to make or buy something that their kids can shovel in while they are changing for the next engagement or on the road to get there. Kind of like Rock Stars, you know?

Then, I was more surprised when all the students finished their lunch and left. The cafeteria looked as if Raccoons and Crows had scavenged from a trash can in the park! Food and containers were everywhere on the tables and on the ground. Even if some made it into a trash can, most of recyclable containers didn't quite reach a "Recycle bin", which were placed only a few feet from the regular trash can. Some water bottles were smashed and flattened by foot to be ready to be tossed into the recycle bin, but just lying on the ground right next to the Recycle bin! How could they possibly not notice it???

Sadly, I knew why. It was because there were custodians with blooms and dustpans. Picking up their mess and selecting recyclable items from the trash cans were their jobs, aren't they? Our society, our adult society is teaching those kids "common sense", right?

I had a long talk with one of custodians. She was very sharp and said to me, "I don't let my son go out without cleaning his room first." When I told her how plastic trash would end up in the ocean and kill marine animals, she was so fascinated and started to tell other people about that. I almost felt like screaming. It was because I was sad about those students. But also because I was happy to know that this custodian's son would be very educated! He could be the future officer of our region EPA.

I am lucky that I grew up in the society of "Mottainai"(a Japanese term meaning "a sense of regret concerning waste when the intrinsic value of an object or resource is not properly utilized). I had a washable lunch box and canteen. My school used washable dishes and utensils. I had to finish our lunch and clean the table in order to leave the room. If I could not finish my lunch and if the food was savable, I took it home. And that was just common sense to me. What happened to that common sense?

We have become a "Throwaway Society". As our consumption increased, our throwaway habit increased. It fitted into our busy and lazy lifestyle. But this change was not so long ago. Many of us still remember the good old days before this new society.

Throwaway must be stopped before we get buried in landfills, and it must be stopped by us who remember those good old days.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Scary Story about raising Aliens

This is getting scary. I didn't think it was this bad. I totally underestimated.
I guess that kids now a days see vegetables come in the cans and plastic bags. Unless you take them to a farmer's market or the bulk produce section in the supermarket, they see vegetables that are nicely cleaned, trimmed or even sliced, and packaged on shelves! No wonder!
Moreover, what this tells me is that parents and kids don't talk about food while they are eating. Once they are in the meals after changing shapes and colors, no one talks about the origin of each ingredient. Who cares as long as it tastes good? Right?

The biggest problem here (besides the fact that kids are getting aliens, and parents are getting too busy or too lazy to wash and peel vegetables, and nobody really care what they are eating as long as it fills their stomach) is that we generate more trash every time we buy "packaged food"! Remember my other post about "over packaging"? It's just too much! Recycling is not the answer. By now, you know that the process of making plastic products creates pollution!

I am not saying that we all need to live like farmers. But this is scary.....

Monday, April 5, 2010

Movie "On deadly Ground"

This is the last scene from a poorly rated movie in 1994 (Sorry, Mr. Seagal. No offence).
Does he sound like talking about 15 years ago? Did this writer know that this dialogue would be timeless? I hope I don't have to feel the same (or worse) when I watch this again 15 years later!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The "Plastic Trash Zombies" video is completed!!!

Remember how fun we had? I can watch this over and over, and never get tired because each of your face is gem! It's been 5 months since this event, and our "Plastic Trash Zombie dance" is getting more popular. Many events and organizations want to work with us to raise awareness of trash pollution. Thank you so much for initiating this great movement, and hope to see you again and again!

(Please double click the video to see the wide screen and leave comment on Youtube!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why do we spend money for water?

I thought that drinking water was our basic right. When did we start to allow the commercial industry to take this right away from us? Why are you paying a lot for something you have a right to get free?

I have watched movie called, "Tapped". It shows how much we are fooled by the beverage companies.

I am so glad that I have stopped buying or drinking from plastic water bottles a few years ago. I have a good filter under the sink, and I use a filter-equipped stainless water bottle to carry. It tastes much better and cheaper.

My favorite activist, Annie Leonard made another video about the story of water, which explains this issue in a brilliant way.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Even David Letterman is worrying about the Pacific Garbage Patch.

Captain Charles Moore from Algalita talks about the Pacific Gyre.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Waste, waste, waste! Over packaging is such waste!

I have stopped mall shopping a few years ago. I just don't like the atmosphere and some kind of guiltiness that I have to feel while spending time for only myself because my 15-year-old dog and cat cannot go with me. So, what do I do? Yes, online shopping. I even bought most of furniture and fixtures via Internet. Then, when I received packages, I can tell which companies are Eco conscious and which are absolutely don't care about our planet. Over-packaging is waste of materials and transportation, which increase a carbon footprints.

Cisco has taken up a pilot program for a packaging diet, and will see a savings of about $24 million just by getting smart and rethinking the materials and size of packaging, and the transportation of products. That's one of examples that shows that it is possible to reduce waste and costs at the same time.

Now, it's time for us to be "smarter" to choose the "smarter manufacturers".

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Story of Stuff, yes, stuff you buy and throw away...

Have you ever wonder why you have so much stuff? In your house, garage, closets, yard, cars, and storage? There are some of the things you don't remember or even recognize what they are! But you are the one bought them at some point.
There is so much "stuff" around us and it simply becomes "trash" everyday.
Make yourself comfortable and watch this 20-minute-video. Then, you will know WHY.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

As you know, I am against "Wild Animal Captivity". RESPECT WILD ANIMALS AND NATURE!

Please vote "The activists are right. These creatures should be free, not kept in tanks and trained to perform tricks.",0,6354939.poll

This is how you can help Haiti, now.

This is a great report from Haiti. We all feel for the victims but don't really know what to do except donating money. It's hard to see what are actually needed there.
Click here:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day! This LOVE will stay forever.....unfortunately

The day after Valentine's Day, we took our Zodiac to the ocean to meet dolphins and possibly some Gray whales since it is the migration season. We did not see any animals, unfortunately, however, there are lots of LOVE welcomed us.
In a thirty munites short ride, we picked up 16 heart-shaped myler balloons floating. Everytime we go out there, we usually pick up a few plastic trash, including balloons, plastic cups and bottoles. But I never prepared to pick up this many balloons. There were also large trash such as a styrofoam cooler box and a Yoga mat looking pad. The winter storm brings all kinds of things from the land into the ocean. So, here I was, buried in plastic trash in our little Zodiac. I look like on my way home from Christmas shopping, don't I?

Whether lovers found LOVE or they lost LOVE, lots of leftover LOVEs ended up in the ocean for sure. However, these plastic LOVEs last almost forever, and causes serious ingestion and entaglement hazards to marine animals.

I have never received this many hearts from any man in my life. But if someone was planning to give me even one little heart, I swear I would hang on tight to it till I properly discard it. Or I would simply tell him that I prefer flowers and organic vegan chocolate.
Click for more info for balloons:

Monday, January 25, 2010

This is how you reduce your plastic waste.

I learned from this a lot. We can complain about plastic containers and wraps which come with food we buy. But just complaining does not help the world. If we all bring our containers and reuse them, the problem will be solved.
Many people have started to read Nutrition Facts on the food packages recently. We also should look at the package materials before choose products.
Shop wisely.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wild animals must be kept wild to respect

People think those wild animals are friendly and easily tamed. They are cute and it's tempting to treat them like your dogs or cats. But they are wild. It's dangerous and they may have diseases. Thank Marine Animal Rescue to report this incidence and warn us this is very illegal, a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

This sickly confused sea lion pup was desperately seeking warmth. It didn't approach a human to be petted. Luckily, she kept her hands away from the pup and did not get bitten.
If you see injured or distressed wild animals, call Animal Control (or me to get the right number to call).