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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

Ask Umbra: Eat a Baby Orange, Kill a Baby Seal?

Posted On January 7, 2013 by

What does citrus have to do with the ocean (besides keeping sailors scurvy-free)? Today, Grist’s “Ask Umbra” blog discussed how clementines, a fruit many people enjoy during the wintertime, could be harming ocean wildlife — that is, if you’re not careful about the packaging.

A reader asked whether the mesh netting used to hold these citrus treats can be harmful to sea creatures in the long run. I was invited to weigh in:

So is mesh the menace you imagine it to be? Well, yes. “Like all forms of plastic debris in the environment, plastic mesh bags can pose harm to marine and terrestrial animals,” says Nicholas Mallos, a conservation biologist and marine debris specialist with Ocean Conservancy. The extent of the mesh threat is unknown, Mallos says, but this graphic from the organization’s annual International Coastal Cleanup gives a good sense of how our wasteful lifestyles affect our aquatic friends.

…Let us turn to our trusty three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. First, try to avoid buying products packaged in excess plastic. Mallos points out that reusable produce bags are a handy alternative, though that will be tricky with your diminutive citrus situation, since mandarins are almost always sold pre-packaged in the U.S. Some municipalities accept these bags for recycling, so be sure to check with yours. You can also reuse the material in all sorts of ways: for household scrubberssachets, or placemats and coastersFinger puppet tutus! Here are even more ideas!

The “Ask Umbra” blog highlights daily challenges we all face while trying to live an environmentally-friendly life. Check out the rest of the blog post here, and don’t forget to download our mobile app, Rippl, for more green tips to help you make simple, sustainable choices.

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Reduce Trash at Your July 4th Bash

Posted On July 3, 2012 by

This Fourth of July, celebrate your independence from unnecessary trash. Credit: flickr user Thomas Hawk

It’s time for the great American barbecues, picnics and parties that—along with patriotic music and fireworks—create great Independence Day memories.

Food, drink, décor and fireworks can mean a lot of trash—trash that often ends up in the ocean. That’s right, even if you live hundreds of miles from the ocean, trash from your area can travel down waterways to the sea, fouling the water and endangering wildlife.

How big is the problem? Last year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers picked up enough food packaging alone for one person to get takeout breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next 858 years.

So if you’re planning to entertain on July 4th, think red, white and especially blue: Keep these tips in mind for a clean and healthy ocean: Continue reading »