The Curse of Plastics and Chemicals

Infertility in our Midst

The other day I read a very alarming article about infertility and the low sperm count for men, and while I’m not sure if plastic is entirely to blame it sure goes a long way. The frightening thing is that it’s not just a recent problem but it has been happening since the turn of the 20th century when plastic and the oil industry started in our world along that we humans began to ingest, thus affecting our hormones, and most alarmingly estrogen and testosterone.

BPA and Phthalates the endocrine disruptors

“They coat our pills and nutritional supplements, they’re used in gelling agents, lubricants, binders, emulsifying agents, and suspending agents. Not to mention medical devices, detergents and packaging, paint and modeling clay, pharmaceuticals and textiles and sex toys and nail polish and liquid soap and hair spray…

They are used in tubing that processes food, so you’ll find them in milk, yogurt, sauces, soups, and even, in small amounts, in eggs, fruits, vegetables, pasta, noodles, rice, and water. The CDC determined that just about everyone in the United States has measurable levels of phthalates in his or her body—they’re unavoidable.”

Water bottles and food containers are also laced with these 2 chemicals. To top it off our shopping receipts have them too.

Top 5 offenders

  1. Plastic food containers
  2. Plastic shopping bags
  3. Plastic straws
  4. Plastic bottles
  5. Plastic food packaging

Microfibres in our clothes

Look at most labels sewn into your clothes with washing instructions and you’ll see that your item is made from a host of non-organic materials. Of course we all enjoy the fact that these fabrics don’t crease so no ironing is necessary in so many cases, leaving us freed up for other things like our jobs!

BPA and a Safer Sustitute 

Well, we’ve all read that BPA is no longer used in plastic and we have a safer substitute, but now there are rumblings that in fact the safer one might be even more dangerous to us. ” BPA-free plastics can also leak the same hormone disrupting chemicals as BPA-containing plastics” according to a study published in Current Biology.

Is PET Safer?

PET, which stands for polyethylene terephthalate, is a form of polyester (just like the clothing fabric). It is extruded or molded into plastic bottles and containers for water bottles and other containers.

“Water bottles made from PET plastic leach compounds that mimic the hormone oestrogen raising questions about their safety, say German researchers”.  But new evidence suggests that PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, may not be so benign after all. Scientists at Goethe University in Frankfurt found that estrogenic compounds leach from the plastic into the water. Admittedly this research was carried out in 2009…how much weight does it have today?

5 ways  we can ditch plastic.

  1. There are so many glass containers on the market for us to buy instead of plastic.
  2. We can use paper lunch bags
  3. No more plastic straws, paper straws are healthier.
  4. Cardboard and paper packaging are also being introduced.
  5. Cloth shopping bags without the nasty microfibers.

Skeptics are Scared

There is  little question that sperm counts were dropping, but David Mortimer, whose company designs and establishes laboritories for assisted conception questioned the measuring of sperm count, stating that the old studies were very unreliable.

Now he’s embraced some of the direst predictions of scientists like Hagai  Levine…who conducted further studies after 1995 and found the sperm count had declined even further. “The epigenetics are the scary bit,” he told me, “because what we’re doing now affects the future of the human race.”

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

We can only have hope in our young people who are now working on ways to get rid of the plastic we humans have carelessly discarded and tons of which has entered our seas also killing sea life. There is a huge wave of concerned people doing their utmost to educate ordinary folks about the dangers of plastic.

Unfortunately it’s the big manufacturing companies who have got to stop and listen and start thinking of the dangers to the continuation of the human species…how long will that take if ever, and that’s where we’ve got to believe in this young generation turning those factories around and finding safer alternatives to plastics…

A Diving holiday That Led To A Shocking Discovery

Boyan Slat is a young man of twenty four year old who took it on himself to do something about the crisis of plastic in our seas…he found out about it while underwater swimming and could not believe what he saw, “more bags than fish”…he was 16 at the time, in Greece on a diving trip. Returning home he set about researching, reading and googling the subject to educate himself about this serious problem.

He and a friend entered a school science competition…their idea was to put a long barrier in the sea to catch big bits of plastic. Not surprisingly they won that competition. Boyan decided to quit university where he was studying for a degree in aerospace engineering, while continuing his research on getting rid of plastic waste in the sea, so with his wonderful innovative plan “The Ocean Cleanup” was born.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The ocean cleanup is a non-profit organization and therefore dependent on large companies to finance the project, who obviously have much confidence in such a huge undertaking

a cleanup efficiency of 42% of all plastic within the North Pacific gyre can be achieved in ten years using a 100 km Array. Collaborating with offshore experts, it has been determined that this Array can be made and installed using current materials and technologies. Estimated costs are €317 million in total, or €31.7 million per year when depreciated over ten years, which translates to €4.53 per kilogram of collected ocean debris. Unfortunately, ocean garbage patches are vast and dispersed in 5 areas and the plastic will not go away by itself once it settles in these the subtropical gyres.

Challenge of cleanup 

The plastic pollution spreads across millions of square kilometers and travels in all directions, so it would take thousands of years plus billions of dollars using vessels and nets to cover this area. With the technology of computer simulation it has shown that floating barriers are suitable to capture and concentrate floating plastic debris. Combined with ocean current models to determine how much plastic would encounter the structure.

The Ocean Cleanup successfully launched its ocean plastic cleanup system on Saturday, Sept. 8 from Alameda, California, and is now on its way to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

60 Years of Plastic Waste

Please take a further look at what Boyan and his team of other young and older people have accomplished to remove plastic from the ocean.

I am in awe of what this young man with his colleagues and all the big companies who have funded all this brilliant work for our planet and the human race, are trying to do…God Bless Them.

As for those who say it’s useless because all the tiny broken up bits of plastic lie deeper in the ocean, probably for the last 60 years, that may be true. Had it been possible and there were people like Boyan and his team around at the time, there wouldn’t have been this huge problem would there?

Now the problem is getting more people to understand that we all have to stop mindless littering of our planet and hopefully get in the healthy habit of using alternatives to plastic…they are there if we want to take this big problem seriously.

“I am incredibly grateful for the tremendous amount of support we have received over the past few years from people around the world, that has allowed us to develop, test, and launch a system with the potential to begin to mitigate an this ecological disaster. This makes me confident that, if we manage to make the technology work, the cleanup will happen.”, says Boyan Slat, CEO and founder.