The Blog Aquatic » trash-free http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Five Tips for a Low-Trash Super Bowl Tailgate http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/02/five-tips-for-a-low-trash-super-bowl-tailgate/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/02/five-tips-for-a-low-trash-super-bowl-tailgate/#comments Sat, 02 Feb 2013 21:06:39 +0000 Sara Thomas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4487 Fans at a football game

Image adapted from mattradickal flickr stream

Heading to a tailgate for Super Bowl XLVII? Here are a few quick tips to reduce your trash impact and keep our planet healthy while cheering on your team.

Make your own food: Opt for delicious homemade salsa, grilled meats and salads over store-bought or take out options. You’ll eat (a little) healthier, be able to buy in bulk and can use your own reusable containers to bring everything in.

Cloth beats paper: If cloth were an option in rock, paper, scissors, it would totally beat all three. Bring cloth napkins and towels for clean up and you’ll not only eliminate fly-away possibilities, but you’ll also greatly reduce the trash produced. Make them from cloth in your team’s colors and show some extra team spirit to boot!

Don’t forget the utensils: Plastic utensils are easier to clean because well, you don’t have to, but is it really worth it? Last year during the International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers found enough cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons to host a picnic for 2.15 million people. Just imagine how much they didn’t find that ended up in our ocean. Make the switch and bring a set of reusable utensils for eating and serving with you.

Bring a keg: The most sustainable option for you 21-and-over beer drinkers is locally brewed beer in a keg. As an added bonus, it also costs less than buying individual bottles or cans. Mini-kegs are great too for those smaller get-togethers. So invest in your own and store it with your chairs and tables, or, for you city-dwellers with less space, rent one from the brewery. We guarantee you’ll be the hit of any party when you walk in with that in your hands.

Skip the throw-away cups: Feel particularly strong about your RSC (red solo cup)? Opt for a reusable one instead – yes, Virginia, they do exist. They stack just as easily and are the same dimension for you ping pong ball throwing aficionados. Or, have everyone bring their own reusable cup for soda, water and other beverages.

Want more ways to reduce the trash in your life? Download Rippl™, our new app that delivers green tips and customizable alerts right to your iPhone.

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Trash or Treat? Six Ways To Have a Trash-Free Halloween http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/26/trash-or-treat-six-ways-to-have-a-trash-free-halloween/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/26/trash-or-treat-six-ways-to-have-a-trash-free-halloween/#comments Fri, 26 Oct 2012 18:00:03 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3353 Ghosts, goblins and ghouls—there’s no doubt about it, Halloween is a spooky time. But if there’s one thing scarier than skeletons in the trees, it’s trash on the street—trash that can wash into storm drains and travel all the way to the ocean. From candy wrappers to decorations and costumes, it’s easy to make a ton of trash around Halloween. That’s why we’re giving you five easy ways to reduce your family’s waste this year:

1. Reuse a pillowcase instead of buying a plastic candy container. Or, if you can’t bear the thought of venturing out without a smiling pumpkin, cut the top off of a milk jug and give it a Jack-o-lantern grin with permanent markers, and then recycle that container after you’ve collected your trick-or-treat goodies.

2. Why waste money on a costume you’re only going to wear once? Use items lying around the house to create your own ocean-themed costume. When people ask you about your outfit, give your favorite ocean animal a voice and tell them how they can help stop ocean trash. You can use one of these ideas, or come up with your own! 

  • Ocean sunset—Dress in shades of blue and wear a yellow hat.
  • The Pacific Gyre—Simply attach (clean!) bottles and other recyclables to blue clothing.
  • Sand castle—Use cardboard boxes to assemble the sand castle of your dreams!
  • Sea creature—Anything is possible. Go as a jellyfish by attaching strips of bubble wrap around the outside of an umbrella. To be an urchin, dress in black and tape cardboard triangles to a bandana. If you go with a group, you can tell people you’re an entire ecosystem—and that, unfortunately, the trash in your costumes is part of that ecosystem.

3. Decorate your house as a spooky trash gyre. Paint skulls on bottles and make ghosts from plastic bags. Make sure to explain the decorations to the trick-or-treaters who come by, and keep a trash can next to the door so they can dispose of the wrappers from any candy they’ve been snacking on so far.

4. In addition to the trick-or-treat bag, bring a separate trash bag to collect candy wrappers you see along the way. Challenge your kids to collect as much trash as they see.

5. Take number four one step further by challenging your kids to keep all of their Halloween candy wrappers in a box to ensure they don’t end up as litter. Whoever collects the most wrappers wins! Then, you can combine everyone’s wrappers and send them all to Terracycle, where they’ll be made into something new like a purse or a pencil case.

6. Your carriage may turn into a pumpkin at midnight, but that pumpkin can start turning into veggie carrion by the next morning. How do you properly dispose of your jack-o-lanterns? Turn your house into a pumpkin recycling station with these composting guidelines from Treehugger.

You don’t have to sacrifice any of the fun (or frights!) to have a trash-free Halloween. Do you have more ideas? Share them below, and don’t forget to upload your spooky photos to our Facebook page!

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Five Tips for a Low-Trash Tailgate http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/25/five-tips-for-a-low-trash-tailgate/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/25/five-tips-for-a-low-trash-tailgate/#comments Thu, 25 Oct 2012 19:40:20 +0000 Sara Thomas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3336

Image adapted from mattradickal flickr stream

Heading to a tailgate this weekend? With football season in full swing, many of you might be going to a tailgate or watch party this weekend. Here are a few quick tips to reduce your trash impact and keep our planet healthy while cheering on your team.

Make your own food: Opt for delicious homemade salsa, grilled meats and salads over store-bought or take out options. You’ll eat (a little) healthier, be able to buy in bulk and can use your own reusable containers to bring everything in.

Cloth beats paper: If cloth were an option in rock, paper, scissors, it would totally beat all three. Bring cloth napkins and towels for clean up and you’ll not only eliminate fly-away possibilities, but you’ll also greatly reduce the trash produced. Make them from cloth in your team’s colors and show some extra team spirit to boot!

Don’t forget the utensils: Plastic utensils are easier to clean because well, you don’t have to, but is it really worth it? Last year during the International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers found enough cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons to host a picnic for 2.15 million people. Just imagine how much they didn’t find that ended up in our ocean. Make the switch and bring a set of reusable utensils for eating and serving with you.

Bring a keg: The most sustainable option for you 21-and-over beer drinkers is locally brewed beer in a keg. As an added bonus, it also costs less than buying individual bottles or cans. Mini-kegs are great too for those smaller get-togethers. So invest in your own and store it with your chairs and tables, or, for you city-dwellers with less space, rent one from the brewery. We guarantee you’ll be the hit of any party when you walk in with that in your hands.

Skip the throw-away cups: Feel particularly strong about your RSC (red solo cup)? Opt for a reusable one instead – yes, Virginia, they do exist. They stack just as easily and are the same dimension for you ping pong ball throwing aficionados. Or, have everyone bring their own reusable cup for soda, water and other beverages.

Want more ways to reduce the trash in your life? Download Rippl™, our new app that delivers green tips and customizable alerts right to your iPhone.

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The Last Straw: Reduce Your Plastic Footprint and Hydrate Trash-Free http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/05/the-last-straw-reduce-your-plastic-footprint-and-hydrate-trash-free/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/05/the-last-straw-reduce-your-plastic-footprint-and-hydrate-trash-free/#comments Fri, 05 Oct 2012 15:05:14 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2671

Credit: monkeyjunkie flickr stream

It’s there before you know it—in your cup, staring at you: the ubiquitous plastic straw. The bendy piece of plastic that has been accompanying beverages for decades.

A disposable plastic straw is used on average for a whopping 20 minutes. It’s longer than the four-second lifespan of the plastic stirrer you may use to swizzle your coffee or tea, but 20 minutes is still just a tiny fraction of the several hundred years it could spend in a landfill. One straw may seem insignificant, but consider this: someone who uses one straw a day for the next decade will toss 3,650 pieces of plastic into the landfill—and there’s a chance that plastic may get lost along the way and end up in the ocean.

Over the past quarter century, straws have routinely been one of the top ten items found on beaches around the world during the International Coastal Cleanup. How many? Ocean Conservancy volunteers have picked up so many straws from beaches and waterways that when laid end-to-end; they would span a distance equal to California’s 840 miles of coastline. And last year alone, enough disposable plastic straws were found to pop one into your beverage every day for the next 1,250 years. Don’t think it’s a problem? Some communities have actually banned straws entirely to reduce trash on the nearby beaches. 

Still, good news for straw lovers: There are plenty of options for trash-free sipping. We all have a drawer of reusable silverware at home, so why not toss in a few reusable straws. Glass, stainless steel, bamboo and BPA-free plastic are all trash free options and the best part is they often come in packs of four, which means you can slurp trash-free at home, at the office and on the go. Whether you bring your own straw or decide to go straw-free the next time you dine out, remember to ask your server to hold the straw. If enough people ask for drinks without straws, servers could decide to ask customers first before automatically handing them out.

Although most disposable straws can be recycled (#2 and #5 plastics), most straws do not get recycled. For that reason, request a straw-less beverage or get a reusable straw so that we keep disposable straws out of the landfill and keep our beaches trash-free.

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Going for the Green at the London 2012 Games http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/08/going-for-the-green-at-the-london-2012-games/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/08/going-for-the-green-at-the-london-2012-games/#comments Wed, 08 Aug 2012 18:31:46 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2085

Credit: jellybeanz flickr stream (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Every four years the largest gathering of athletes, spectators and media converge to witness the greatest athletes on the planet compete in the Summer Olympiad. It’s difficult for most of us to grasp the skill, strength, endurance, devotion and sacrifice that each Olympian demonstrates, but at the London 2012 Olympic Games the athletes are not the only ones performing impressive feats. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG)  embarked on an equally impressive mission: to make the London 2012 Summer Games the most sustainable Olympic Games to date. Central to this mission is the goal of achieving Zero Waste.

London 2012 is the first summer Games to aim to send zero waste directly to the landfill. With almost 15,000 athletes, 11 million ticket-holders and hundreds of thousands of reporters and media exploring the city and attending Olympic venues, recognizing this goal is a gargantuan task. During the planning process, LOGOC employed a waste hierarchy to govern disposal of materials. They avoided the lowest ranking, “disposable,” and aimed for materials they could reuse or recycle. “Preventing/Avoiding” ranked at the top of the hierarchy.

As a result of this structure, not a single item of trash from the Olympic park will go directly into a landfill; instead, every item of trash will be used as a renewable or recyclable resource. This policy has governed all aspects of planning of the including construction of Olympic Stadium, where 90% of waste generated was diverted from landfills via recycling or reuse.

Food waste has not been overlooked either. An estimated 14 million meals will be served during the Games and anything not eaten will go to compost. The footprint of the food itself was also considered and all 82 million tonnes of seafood consumed at Olympic Village have been certified sustainable to demonstrate its affordability and achievability. The ultimate goal is to name London a ‘Sustainable Fish City.’

On the world’s biggest stage with all eyes watching, London has taken on a trash challenge to show the world that reducing our waste is not a lofty, blue-sky goal. As the Thirtieth Olympiad begins winding down, we eagerly await the final trash tally to see if LOCOG achieved its zero waste goals. Regardless of the outcome, we should all commend the LOCOG for trying to deliver a Zero Waste Games that demonstrates exemplary resource management practices and promotes long-term behavioral change on a stage with unrivaled culture and consumption.

Succeed or Fail, when the closing ceremonies come to an end  the LOCOG will have left an important legacy for environmental sustainability for the United Kingdom, the Olympic Games and countries around the world.

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How do you live trash-free? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/27/how-did-you-live-trash-free/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/27/how-did-you-live-trash-free/#comments Wed, 27 Jun 2012 18:59:15 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1309

Scharmel from Little Rock submitted this photo of her dog, Pablo Picasso, snooping around in her reusable bag. Show us how you live trash-free at oceanconservancy.org/photocontest.

Earlier this month, Ocean Conservancy launched the Trash-Free Challenge to start a movement to reduce the trash we all create. We set out with a simple goal: If we could get 10,000 people to go trash-free for one month, we could stop over a million pounds of trash before it had a chance to reach our ocean. As we wrap up our challenge, here are some things participants have been doing to reduce their trash output. Thanks to everyone who has shared their tips with us!

Ruth emailed us to let us know she’s started using small, glass tonic water and ginger-ale bottles as on-the-go water bottles. They’re easily reusable, an ideal size for carrying around in a purse or bag, and because they are made of glass they reduce the risk of exposure to chemicals like BPA found in certain kinds of plastic.

James shared with us his memories of swimming in the ocean at Boca Raton and Delray Beach- prior to devastation from naval activity on the high Seas during WWII- when the water was pristine and beautiful. These memories led him to live a life of sustainability that consists of using reusable water bottles and similar products, and never discarding waste of any kind into the ocean.

Chris started a composting program at her kids’ school. Every day at lunch the students place all of their food waste into gallon buckets by the trash cans. Chris goes to the school, picks them up and brings them home for worm composting. At the end of the school year, she had gathered about 9,600 pounds of food waste to give back to the earth. She also successfully taught her children and their peers an incredibly valuable lesson: one simple and minor action can add up to something much bigger and much more beneficial to the planet as a whole.

The 30-Day Trash-Free Challenge may be winding down, but don’t let it stop here! Continue to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle, even if it’s as simple as keeping your reusable bags or coffee mugs right by your front door so you remember to grab them when you leave the house. If you have tips to share, leave them in the comments section below, and remember to submit your photos to our Trash-Free photo contest and vote to win our Reusable Starter Kit.

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Hitting the Road for Memorial Day? Six Tips for a Trash-free Trip http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/24/hitting-the-road-for-memorial-day-six-tips-for-a-trash-free-trip/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/24/hitting-the-road-for-memorial-day-six-tips-for-a-trash-free-trip/#comments Thu, 24 May 2012 16:08:56 +0000 Catherine Fox http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=358
Credit: Mamboman1 flickr stream

Credit: Mamboman1 flickr stream

After participating in Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup for five years, researching and writing three ocean trash reports and seeing hundreds of photos of wildlife sick or dying because of this major pollution problem, I know how badly trash can affect our ocean.

The dangers are stamped on my mind and heart, so I produce as little trash as possible, recycle whenever I can and – when I remember – take along reusable shopping bags, cups and carryout containers when I go out.

However, when I recently attended a conference out of town, I realized I hadn’t brought my trash ethic along on the trip. A mere ten minutes after the cashier put my breakfast order into my hands, I threw all of this away:

1 paper bag
1 coffee cup
1 cup cozy
1 stirrer
1 empty sugar packet
1 plastic bowl
2 plastic packets (one for nuts, one for dried cranberries)
1 plastic spoon
1 napkin

That’s right, ten items for one oatmeal breakfast. Did I mention I was attending an international marine debris conference?

I sat there in the coffee shop, stunned, thinking, “Here I am, working to help people change how they handle trash so the ocean can be clean and healthy, and I have blown it.”

I’d read research about how tough it is for us to change behaviors, and that good intentions alone are not enough to do the job. Now I really got it.

Since then, I’ve learned to think ahead. I’m doing a better job handling my trash day to day. It’s a matter of awareness and planning. The next time you head out for a holiday weekend or vacation, consider of these tips for trash-free travel:

1. Staying in a hotel or rental property? Take time to find one that offers a recycling program.

2. Try new products like tablet-shaped “toothpaste” sold in recyclable cardboard boxes, or bars of shampoo that don’t require a bottle.
3. Prefer an organized suitcase? Instead of buying trendy packing cubes to keep things in place, reuse those zippered cases your sheets, blankets, and comforters came in.

4. Include these on your packing list: water bottle, to-go cup, reusable carryout container, small napkins, and utensils.

5. Cut back on snack packaging by taking along granola bars, cookies or other goodies in reusable snack pouches.

6. Be prepared to carry your trash – especially recyclables — in case you don’t see an appropriate receptacle when you need one. Carry a suitable bag that’s waterproof in case of leaks.

Please add your own ideas in the comments section below. We’ll all do a better job for trash free seas if we support each other!

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