Category Archives: Movies

Why You Should Go Plastic-Free

albatross

Photo: Chris Jordan Flickr

Hey, ya’ll.  As you can see, I am on a plastic-free kick.  What are some reasons you think we should all eliminate as much plastic as possible?  What are some ways you are eliminating plastic from your life?  Feel free to share the inspiration in the comment section below. How can we encourage companies to offer plastic-free alternatives?  How can we inspire government officials to pass laws that phase petroleum plastic out of existence and implement new alternatives?

Notice that I used the the word inspire instead of the words “demand” and “pressure” (which can sometimes include the tactic of shaming and guilting a politician or corporate mogul into better behavior.) While demanding is fine and dandy and does produce some positive results, hence the success of non-profits seeking to make the world a better place, I feel inspiring others is even more effective.  It’s like delivering the same information in a much better way.

Personally speaking, when someone attempts to shame, pressure or demand me into a new way of being, well, er, it doesn’t work so well.  I just feel resistant and defensive and not open to truly hearing the other person’s point of view.

So, let me take you on a little journey on how the raw materials for plastic are extracted to plastic’s final destinations, so you can see the true impact of plastic.   Fasten your seat belts!

Drilling For Oil And Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking)

As our oil reserves deplete, off-shore drilling is becoming the new thing.  Of course, oil spills can devastate marine life populations.  Unfortunately, oil spills are not an uncommon of a thing.  For example,  serious spills of oil and gas from North Sea platforms are occurring at the rate of one per week.  For more information click here and here

Even if oil drilling companies are extra careful to avoid more oil spills, off-shore oil drilling poses other threats to the environment.  A steady stream of pollution from offshore rigs causes a wide range of health and reproductive problems for fish and other marine life.  Over the lifetime of a single oil rig, 90,000 metric tons of drilling fluid and toxic metal cuttings are dumped into the ocean. A single rig can also, over its lifetime, pollute the air as much as 7,000 cars driving 50 miles a day.  Not to mention, off-shore drilling activities destroy kelp beds, reefs and coastal wetlands.

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the ocean.  The rhythmic waves and forces are an inspiration to me, along with the sheer diversity and beauty of the marine life.   Swimming in pristine ocean waters is healing and nurturing to body and soul.  Also, for those of us that eat fish or sea vegetables, great nutritional value comes from unpolluted sources. We are deeply connected to the ocean and water.  Just like like human body, roughly 71% of the Earth’s surface is water (97% of water is the ocean).

In the spirit of keeping this blog on the briefer side, I encourage you to read up on fracking and also watch a documentary called Crude, which will show you the effects of drilling for oil on land through the eyes of rainforest dwellers in Ecuador, who suffered increased rates of cancer, leukemia, birth defects, and many other health ailments.

Oil Refineries

Ever live close to an oil refinery?  Me neither.  But there are folks that do live near these refineries and their story is not pretty.  As per the movie, Tapped, Corpus Christie, TX is the largest PETE water bottle manufacturer in the U.S.  PETE is in the Benzene family which causes cancer.  Other health risks of living close a to refinery are increased risk of birth defects.  Birth defects in Corpus Christie are 84% higher than the state average! PETE also contaminates ground water because these manufacturing plants have major chemical leaks.  Air and soil is also negatively impacted.

To me, clean air, water and healthy soil is a basic human right.  Heck, it is a basic right to all life to Thrive.

Risks Of Having Plastic Items

Having plastic in your home comes with some risk to the health of you and your loved ones, especially if the plastic item is what you eat from, drink from, sleep on or wear. Also, when friction or heat is applied to a plastic item, toxins can be released more readily into the air or in your food/beverage.

Two plastics of major concern are PVC (polyvinyl chloride, #3 plastic) and polycarbonate (#7 plastic). Please note, however, not all #7 plastic is polycarbonate.  If you see PLA next to the #7, then the  plastic is plant-based.

PVC is found in many common household items such as conventional shower curtains, peanut butter jars, cling wrap and air mattresses. PVC contains harmful carcinogens, most notably VCM (vinyl chloride monomer). Other chemicals such as dioxin and phthalates, both carcinogenic, may also be released into an indoor environment.  For more detailed information on the risks of PVC, click here and here.

Polycarbonate is used in some hard plastic bottles, metal food can liners, clear plastic “sippy” cups and some clear plastic eating utensils.  It has been found to leach BPA  (Bisphenol A) which mimics estrogen and has been linked to several cancers and genetic damage in infants. 

Are there any safe plastics?  Even some supposedly safe plastics can have hormone-disrupting effects.
I can’t help but think of the greatly increased cancer rates that have occurred with modern living and the presence of synthetic chemicals, pollutants and processed foods in our lives.  I don’t think it is necessarily one thing that causes an ailment, but most certainly toxins can add cumulative stress to the body over time. 
 
While your life may not be entirely plastic-free and the transition may take some time, I believe reducing toxins and increasing natural materials is life enhancing and, not to mention, beautiful.  Who doesn’t love the look and feel of wood, glass and natural fibers?  Above all, don’t stress as you transition.  Find your flow and allow it to happen organically.
Recycling and Disposal Of Plastic
While recycling  whatever plastic is accepted by your municipality is the better option, it still has many drawbacks.  For one,  if your municipality does single stream recycling (meaning that you put all recyclables into one bin and do not have to sort),  not everything you put in the bin may necessarily be recycled. To create simplicity and avoid confusion, single stream municipalities may say the accept more than they do.  
Sometimes, a wrong material or unclean item can delay the process of recycling or contaminate other items it has spilled on.   To find out recycling tips to avoid this issue, click here.  
Most importantly,  when plastic is recycled it turns into a lesser material each time (a.k.a. downcycling), until it is no longer recyclable and then makes it way to the trash.
Once plastic becomes trash, it is not biodegradable.  Bacteria have no interest in digesting it except a certain strain under very specific conditions manipulated by humans. Plastic, instead, is photodegradable, meaning it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces via sunlight.  In a landfill, there is little to no sunlight.  Out in the open, such photograded plastic can pose a threat to the wildlife as they can unwittingly eat the smaller pieces.
Not all plastic ends up recycled or in a landfill.  With landfill space scarce, some trash is incinerated,  releasing high levels of green house gasses and toxins into the air.  And then  there is the other plastic that makes it into waterways for many reasons.  Perhaps, our trash can lid wasn’t secure and some of it  blew away in the wind.  Perhaps, we  when we throw things away in a lidless public trash receptacle and it overflows, the wind carries it away and yet again, plastic and other garbage clogs our waterways.  Or perhaps some people just carelessly litter or do open dumping.  Whatever the case, this free floating garbage poses a great threat marine life.  Ever heard of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
Now that I have filled you with some sobering thoughts (and hopefully some uplifting ones as well), don’t despair.   There are many plastic-free alternatives that I will be sharing on this blog as I also explore  going plastic-free with you. Some will be DIY and others will be products from sustainable, awesome companies.   For those items that are near impossible to find plastic-free, I do believe alternatives are on the horizon as the green market and consciousness expands. Stay tuned for the inspiration!

 

Recommended Movie: Dirt!

Dirt

It’s no secret; documentaries are my favorite genre of movies, especially those that address environmental issues in an inspiring and empowering way. Dirt! is no exception. I watched this movie a second time (the first time was about 2 years ago), because I knew I wanted to share about it in an articulate way.

Dirt! explores the importance of soil to the entire well-being of the planet, people included. If the Earth is Gaia, a living entity unto itself, then dirt is the skin of this beautiful creature. And, hello, we are part of this living entity, made up of the same elements that are in the soil. Anything that harms the soil, harms us.

I learned many amazing things from this vibrant movie (with cute little micro-organism animations, to boot), like the ills of monocrops and artificial fertilizers, how desertification is caused and how conventional farming methods have led to poverty rather than feeding the world as they have proclaimed. Artificial fertilizers, for example, used in conventional monocrop farms, have a nitrogen run-off that flows into streams, rivers and ultimately coastal waters, causing excessive algae bloom and decomposition which depletes oxygen from the oceans and ends up killing the marine life.

While Dirt! brings much needed awareness as to how certain human practices, such as the use of artificial fertilizers, are not sustainable to the health of the planet and its people, it also provides inspiration and solutions, as every good documentary should.

Enjoy!

http://www.thedirtmovie.org/

THRIVE: recommended movie

Thrive

Dear Reader, as I take steps to launch a green lifestyle business where I help individuals make healthier, greener choices and, ultimately, make a difference on this planet, I was struck by many questions.  How do we, as citizens of the planet, create global change?  Why are we still dependent on petroleum and what can we do about that?  It seems strange to me that with advanced technologies like the latest smart-phone or the ability to send space probes to Mars or the latest warfare technologies (yikes!), that we still don’t have affordable, completely clean energy vehicles on the market or that conventional gas cars even still exist.

With these questions brewing inside me, I decided ask my Facebook friends, if there were any books or movies they could recommend about” how change is made on a more global scale.” One person recommended, THRIVE: What On Earth Will It Take?  I had been recommended that movie before, even though I didn’t know what it was about, so I set out to watch it that evening.  It can be seen for free on YouTube.

For me, watching THRIVE was life-changing and the missing puzzle piece, shining a light on the root of many of our world issues, including the environment, while also sharing the solutions, because who wants to be given a lot of problems and feel fearful and helpless?  We want to know how we can make a difference.

To see a synopsis of the movie, please go to:

http://www.thrivemovement.com/the_movie

Vanishing of the Bees: recommended movie

honey_bee_bee_insect_218160

This synopsis is quoted directly from the “Vanishing of the Bees” website:

“Honeybees have been mysteriously disappearing across the planet, literally vanishing from their hives. Known as Colony Collapse Disorder, this phenomenon has brought beekeepers to crisis in an industry responsible for producing apples, broccoli, watermelon, onions, cherries and a hundred other fruits and vegetables. Commercial honeybee operations pollinate crops that make up one out of every three bites of food on our tables. Vanishing of the Bees follows commercial beekeepers David Hackenberg and Dave Mendes as they strive to keep their bees healthy and fulfill pollination contracts across the U.S. The film explores the struggles they face as the two friends plead their case on Capital Hill and travel across the Pacific Ocean in the quest to protect their honeybees. Filming across the US, in Europe, Australia and Asia, this documentary examines the alarming disappearance of honeybees and the greater meaning it holds about the relationship between mankind and mother earth. As scientists puzzle over the cause, organic beekeepers indicate alternative reasons for this tragic loss. Conflicting options abound and after years of research, a definitive answer has not been found to this harrowing mystery.”

For more information:

http://www.vanishingbees.com

 

 

 

I AM: Recommended Movie

I AM

I know I have seen a good movie when I still think about it a week later.   I know I have seen a great movie when I feel like it has changed me in some positive way.  I AM, may just be that movie.

Something about this movie inspired me to open my heart to the next level.  It just so happens that,  right before the movie,  I was in a funk– of the intimate relationship sort.  I was feeling a nice salad  mixture of helplessness, frustration and stuckness.  Suddenly, the wiser, self-preservation part of me kicked in and gave me the urge to watch I AM, if only to interrupt my funk with something positive and uplifting.

This movie is a MUST see.  In this movie,  Tom Shadyac, director of Ace Ventura, shares how a traumatic injury changed his view of reality.  He then goes on a quest, speaking with different intellectual and spiritual leaders, about what is wrong with our world and what we can do about it.  Backed by science and how change has been made historically, I AM makes a compelling case for how we can empower ourselves to be part of the solution.  If you have ever felt despair and helpless when thinking of the enormity of our world issues and what you can do about them (as I have), then please see I AM. 

On a personal note,  by the time, my beloved came home from work (I was half-way through watching I AM), I was  in a totally difference space– the kind of space where I could have a positive impact on our relationship and see things more clearly.  I was, in essence, very personally experiencing I AM’s message. 

For more information about the movie I AM, click here:

http://www.iamthedoc.com/