Monday, June 13, 2011

Dianna Cohen: Tough truths about Plastic Pollution

This Ted Talk was presented by a woman named Dianna Cohen. She is an artist who uses old plastic for her art. She turns it into two-dimensional and three-dimensional art pieces, as well as sculptures. About 8 years after she started using plastic for her pieces, she discovered that the plastic was starting to break down into many small pieces. She thought this was great and decided to do a bit of research on the topic. To her surprise, she found that this is a very bad thing. This means that plastic will always be plastic, and can never biodegrade or breakdown completely. In her research, she also found that most of the world’s plastic ends up in the marine environment, in our oceans. She started seeing photographs of the pacific garbage patch and gyre. It turns out that there are actually 11 gyres in the world’s oceans.

Her first reaction to this news was, “Oh my god! We have to go clean it up!” She even put together a proposal to out there with a cargo ship, two decommissioned fishing trawlers, a crane, a chipping machine and a cold-molding machine. She wanted to collect all the garbage, chip it up into small pieces and compress it into bricks to be used as building material for underdeveloped countries. Though, she soon came to realize that that would only solve the problem temporarily. There’s too much plastic generation in the world. What we need to do is plug the problem and tie the stem. “We need to turn off the faucet”, said Dianna on the subject.

The problem isn’t the gyres in the ocean; it’s the gyres in the supermarkets, stores and fridges in every home in North America and Europe. It’s all the plastic water bottles that we buy from the stores. For a moment, think about all the toxins entering your body from all the plastic in your refrigerator.

Dianna is co-founder of an organization called Plastic Pollution Coalition. Their goal is to raise awareness about the cause. She says that 80%-90% of marine debris is plastic water bottle. She asks that the world call it like it is; plastic pollution. We are killing our environment which will end up meaning the end of us and our society if we do not change our habits. In the USA, less than 7% of plastic water bottles actually get recycled. Out of this 7%, they are down-cycled, incinerated or shipped to China. Once a plastic water bottle is put in the garbage, it can never be recycled back into a water bottle. It is recycled into lesser items which most of the time cannot be recycled.

We have all heard of the three Rs; reduce, reuse and recycle. Now there is a fourth R: refuse. Refuse any and every single-use plastic product. Dianna explains some of the ways to do this. One way is to use a metal reusable water bottle. Switching from glad and Tupperware containers to Pyrex containers is another way to save our environment.

I really enjoyed this Ted Talk. It really opened my eyes to this cause. I was already aware of this problem but watching this video really made me reflect on ways that I can make a difference. I believe that if everyone makes one small change in their lifestyle to help the environment, then we can and will have a huge impact on the environment and on our lives as well.

Rating: *****

Cohen, Dianna. "Dianna Cohen: Tough Truths About Plastic Pollution." Oct. 2010. Web. .

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