save our blue planet

Let's save our blue planet by saving the ocean. Every little step counts.

National Geographic: study about plastic waste| Studie über Plastik-Abfall — 7. October 2017

National Geographic: study about plastic waste| Studie über Plastik-Abfall

Mass production of plastics, which began just six decades ago, has accelerated so rapidly that it has created 8.3 billion metric tons … 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. (Half of all plastic manufactured becomes trash in less than a year)… Of that, only nine percent has been recycled.


And this recycling can make matters even worse: In China fleece are made of disposable water bottles from Germany (as part of the recycling quota) and sold back to Germany, where they pollute the waste water and lastly the sea with micro fibers (microbeads) due to cleaning and still end up as waste, but already broken down in small particles (instead of after 450 years like the original water bottle).
Waste minimisation instead of recycling, I say!

Die Massenproduktion von Kunststoff, die erst vor 6 Jahrzehnten begann, hat sich so rasant beschleunigt, dass sie 8,3 Milliarden metrische Tonnen erschaffen hat… 6,3 Milliarden metrische Tonnen davon sind zu Müll geworden (Die Hälfte alles hergestellten Kunststoffs wird innerhalb von weniger als einem Jahr zu Abfall)…Davon sind nur 9 Prozent recycled worden.


Und dieses Recycling kann alles noch schlimmer machen: In China werden aus Einweg-Wasserflaschen aus Deutschland (als Teil der Recycling-Quote) Fleece hergestellt und wieder nach Deutschland zurück verkauft, wo sie das Abwasser und letztlich das Meer mit Mikro-Fasern (Mikroplastik) beim Waschen verschmutzen und doch wieder als Abfall enden, aber schon in kleine Teilchen zersetzt (anstatt nach 450 Jahren wie die originale Wasserflasche).
Müllvermeidung anstelle von Recycling, sage ich!

6 amazing plastic bans from around the world – and Germany? — 11. August 2016

6 amazing plastic bans from around the world – and Germany?

Good news! Plastics bans across the world have been hitting the headlines lately.From the US to India and Morocco, governing bodies are taking control of the plastic pollution problem, bringing in either complete bans on plastic, or bans on specific forms like polystyrene.

Source: 6 amazing plastic bans from around the world

In Europe, we try to reduce the plastic waste, too, to protect the ocean from waste pollution. Especially the colorful plastic shopping bags the cashier throws at you for free. Every European uses 200 of them each year, most of them only once. But since the EU leaves it to their members how to do it, Germany uses its standard methods: personal commitment of the firms (freiwillige Selbstverpflichtung, that means they make a non-binding promise of their own to prevent a law) and money. Instead of banning these bags, the customer can use them further but in some markets he has to buy them first. Many markets offer canvas shopping bags, too, but they are more expensive. Guess what will happen?

I’m afraid it will end like with plastic bottles: instead of banning single-serving water bottles Germany put a deposit on them, just like on reusable PET bottles. And what happened? The quota of reusable water bottles decreased, of course. Many customers don’t differentiate between the two and use the lightweight single-serving bottle rather that the heavier reusable bottle, since it is all the same anyway.

Take the pledge and use no plastic shopping bags anymore – with time it becomes second nature to take your own bag with you (even if you have to interrupt the cashier in its routine to prevent getting another bag). And be proud about yourself for every disposible bag you don’t have used.

Every step counts.

Greenpeace about microbeads | Greenpeace über Mikroperlen — 23. July 2016

Greenpeace about microbeads | Greenpeace über Mikroperlen

Did you know that microbeads are used in cosmetics not only to exfoliate (which I can comprehend, even if they should use other, natural particles), but also simply for color and texture? Manufacturers seem to think that customers like their liquid soap, shower gel or shampoo smooth and thick (viscid), even if it has got no cleaning benefit and only environmental drawbacks. We use a special, ph-neutral liquid soap together with a reusable foam soap dispenser and it works fabulously. Sadly, my daughter likes glitter in her pink shower gel (girls 😉 ), I don’t know how to make that myself.

Greenpeace addresses the problem of microplastic in cosmetics here more detailed than I did and also describes the loopholes manufacturers use to deceive us. Unfortunately, the mentioned guide to avoid cosmetics in question seems to work only in UK and Australia.

Wusstest Du, dass Mikroperlen in Kosmetik nicht nur zum Peelen benutzt werden (was ich nachvollziehen kann, auch wenn sie andere, natürliche Partikel benutzen sollten), sondern auch einfach für die Farbgebung und Textur? Die Hersteller scheinen zu denken, dass der Kunde seine Flüssigseife, Duschgel oder Shampoo glatt und zähflüssig mag, auch wenn das keinerlei Reinigungs-Nutzen sondern nur Umwelt-Nachteile hat. Wir nutzen eine spezielle, ph-neutrale Flüssigseife zusammen mit einem nachfüllbaren Schaum-Seifenspender und es geht wunderbar. Leider mag meine Tochter Glitter in ihrem pinken Duschgel (Mädchen 😉 ), Ich weiß nicht, wie ich das selbst machen kann.

Greenpeace spricht das Problem von Mikroplastik in Kosmetikprodukten hier detaillierter an als ich es getan habe, und beschreibt auch die Hintertürchen, die die Hersteller nutzen um uns zu täuschen. Hier auch etwas dazu auf Deutsch. Bedauerlicherweise scheint der erwähnte Leitfaden zum Vermeiden von fragwürdiger Kosmetik nur in Großbritannien und Australien zu gelten.

Sources of Ocean’s Plastic Waste | Quellen der Meeres-Vermüllung — 18. December 2015

Sources of Ocean’s Plastic Waste | Quellen der Meeres-Vermüllung

Over half of the material leaked into the ocean comes from China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand (Source). But that doesn’t mean that we others can slack off in our efforts to prevent plastic waste in the oceans – every step counts.

China, Indonesien, Vietnam, Thailand und die Philippinen sind die Quelle von mehr als der Hälfte des Plastikmülls in den Weltmeeren (Quelle). Das heißt jedoch nicht, dass wir anderen in unsere Anstrengungen, Kunststoff-Müll in den Meeren zu vermeiden, nachlässig werden dürfen – jeder Schritt zählt.


How Boyan Slat tests automatic ocean-plastic-cleanup | So testet Boyan Slat die vollautomatische Plastikbefreiung der Weltmeere — 16. December 2015
World’s largest ocean cleanup operation one step closer to launch | Weltgrößte Ozean-Reinigungsoperation einen Schritt dichter an ihrem Start | The Guardian — 16. November 2015
We switched back to tap water — 11. October 2015

We switched back to tap water

As I mentioned here we used bottled water. The reason was that our children got stomachache, and by trial-an-error we concluded that water from the tap was the culprit. It isn’t a new house, and we didn’t know if the piping polluted the (in Germany normally healthy and clean) tap water. So we bought bottled water, first in non-reusable bottles and later in reusable PET bottles. But after doing further research for this blog I couldn’t condone that anymore.

So we switched back to tap water. Prior to that, we made sure to clean the faucet aerators at least every fortnight, and to fill the glasses only at the tap in the kitchen (after using the first 5 liters in other ways every morning – namely boiled for tea). The children resisted a bit due to the different taste, but I explained and eased them into it by mixing with gradually less bottled water. To date, the stomachache didn’t came back (knock on wood).

I tried to persuade my husband to suggest a water dispenser for both sparkling and still water at work. But he said that wouldn’t be possible (I think he didn’t dare to ask and potentially disgruntle his boss). So he is still using sparkling bottle water, but in reusable PET bottles from a no-name local firm. Germany has got more than enough groundwater, therefore using local firms can make sure there is at least no risk to the groundwater level in other countries. But in other countries like Pakistan or the US arise big problems.

California bans even supposedly biodegradable microbeads | Kalifornien verbietet auch Mikroplastik, die angeblich biologisch abbaubar sind| Grist — 10. October 2015

California bans even supposedly biodegradable microbeads | Kalifornien verbietet auch Mikroplastik, die angeblich biologisch abbaubar sind| Grist

Other bans of microbeads contain a biodegradable loophole. California’s ban says:

We’re banning plastic beads and if industry wants to use biodegradable beads they will have to amend [the law] and the onus is on them to prove that alternative microbeads won’t be harmful, based on third-party tests.

Andere Verbote von Mikroplastik enthalten ein “biologisch abbaubar”-Schlupfloch. Kaliforniens Verbot besagt:

Wir verbieten Plastik-Kügelchen und wenn die Industrie biologisch abbaubare Kügelchen nutzen will muss sie das Gesetz ändern lassen und beweisen, dass die alternative Mikroplastik nicht schädlich ist (durch unabhängige Tests).

via California bans microbeads, fish rejoice | Grist.

What biodegradable plastic really means| Was biologisch abbaubare Plastik wirklich bedeutet | The Guardian —

What biodegradable plastic really means| Was biologisch abbaubare Plastik wirklich bedeutet | The Guardian

It seems that the label “biodegradable” isn’t enough to truly protect the oceans from plastic waste.

In 2012 a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Chico, evaluated a few different types of bio-plastic [alleged to be biodegradable]. He found that films, bags and bottles made from Mirel’s PHA passed the test’s requirement for 30% biodegradation in six months. In fact, the plastic biodegraded – meaning, it turned into carbon dioxide and water at roughly the same rate as the plant sample that Greene also tested as a control. After a year, just over 80% of Mirel’s PHA film had biodegraded.

Items made from polylactic acid [PLA], however, a bioplastic widely used in food packaging, did not fare as well in water. Less than 5% of the samples biodegraded after 180 days in seawater, and that did not improve much at the one-year mark.

Wie es scheint, ist das Label “biologisch abbaubar” nicht genug, um wirklich die Ozeane von Plastikmüll zu schützen.

Im Jahr 2012 untersuchte ein Professor der Abteilung für Maschinenbau an der University of California verschiedene Typen von Bio-Kunststoffen [vorgeblich biologisch abbaubar]. Er fand heraus, dass dünne Schichten, Beutel und Flaschen aus PHA der Firma Mirel die Testanforderungen erfüllten, sich also 30% innerhalb von 6 Monaten zersetzten (das heißt in CO2 und Wasser zerfielen). Tatsächlich baute sich der Kunststoff sogar fast genauso schnell biologisch ab wie die Pflanzen-Probe (die Professor Greene als Vergleichsbeispiel auch testete). Nach einem Jahr waren etwas über 80% der PHA Schicht biologisch abgebaut.

Teilen aus Polylactide [PLA] jedoch (ein Biokunststoff, der als Nahrungsmittelverpackung weit verbreitet ist) ging es nicht so gut im Wasser. Weniger als 5% der Testbeispiele zersetzten sich nach 180 Tagen in Meerwasser, und das wurde auch nach einem Jahr nicht viel besser.

Source California considering banning biodegradable microbeads from personal care products | Vital Signs | The Guardian.

How Concord Became The First U.S. City To Ban The Plastic Water Bottle | Stadt Concord (USA) verbietet Plaste-Wasserflaschen — 1. October 2015

How Concord Became The First U.S. City To Ban The Plastic Water Bottle | Stadt Concord (USA) verbietet Plaste-Wasserflaschen

So it is possible, at least in Concord, Mass.:

It shall be unlawful to sell non-sparkling, unflavored drinking water in single-serving polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of 1 liter (34 ounces) or less on or after January 1, 2013.

Also ist es möglich, zumindest in Concord, Mass.:

Es verstößt ab dem 1. Januar 2013 gegen das Gesetz, stilles, geschmackloses Trinkwasser in Einweg-PET-Flaschen von 1 Liter oder kleiner zu verkaufen.

via How Concord Became The First U.S. City To Ban The Plastic Water Bottle.