Missing Friends: Taken with Permission

July 26, 2009

We are wrapping up our annual trip to the islands, we have great new photos of our apparel, got some sun, and we are about to miss our second home – Maui.  However, more than ever, I’ve noticed more and more of my friends missing – the brightly colored fishes that make snorkeling and diving a special thrill.  It was very apparent this trip, a couple of yellow tangs here and there, and fewer fish.  It seems that the aquarium industry can legal take millions of fish each year to supply the office and restaurant aquariums around the globe.  I honestly had no idea the taking of the fish had reached such a level that is visible and noticeable.  One web site to check out is SaveHawaiianReefs.org, they are working to establish limits and re-establish the fish levels.IMG_0934

It once again comes back to sustainability and being responsible.  I’m sure the arguments against protecting the fish, will be someone might lose a job.  How about losing the tourist industry?  How about the protecting the now algae ridden reefs because the cleaner fish are now gone.  Every time I come to the islands, I find another reason to be a marine conservationist.  Don’t forget, we donate 10% of every purchase at our store toward ocean protectionism – visit our site at PlanetProtect.com.


Plastic Bag Ban on Maui: Its Finally Coming

July 22, 2009

My family is enjoying our annual trip to the islands, getting new photos shot, and checking out great snorkel spots. My wife came across an important piece of legislation that recently passed here on Maui.  The county of Maui is banning plastic bags at all grocery and retail outlets in 2011. 

It can’t come soon enough.  I’ve been saying for years, that islands such as the Hawaiian islands can ill afford the plastic bag epidemic that plagues the mainland.  As we drive around the island today and yesterday, there isn’t 10 feet without a grocery bag stuck in bush, floating in the water, and blowing around the roadway.  These “convenience” bags are used for a few minutes, never recycled and end up blowing out of landfills, out of the back of pick-up trucks, and out of cars into the ocean.  IMG_0954It only a matter of time before this plastic plague invades the coastlines.

More and more countries, counties and cities are banning these environmental hazards.  They kill marine mammals by the thousands, foul the environment and ruin recycling machinery at waste plants.  Starting in 2011 you will have to buy a reusable tote (hopefully made from recycled clothing and not plastic) here in Maui county (on the islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai).  In any case, its a major victory for an island that is in desperate need of trash management.  Millions of people visit this island every year, most leave it better, and now, less plastic will be used. 

Now, how to deal with plastic water bottles, plastic wraps and films, and non-recyclable paper products.  I applaud the Maui County Commissioners for forward thinking and protection of this amazing part of our planet.


Elements of Life Series

July 15, 2009

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We’ve updated our Elements of Life Series T-shirts with a new graphic showing the importance of earth, air, water and the oceans.  So far they’ve been a huge hit at consumer shows and on our website.  Shown here is Earth.  Visit our website if you are interested in this series.


Our Plastic Lifestyle

July 11, 2009

My family went plastic bag-less a year ago, we purchased some great cloth and “recycled” plastic bags, and they make shopping and carrying our groceries much easier.  The other day while I’m checking out and ready to pay, I looked at the groceries and realized, almost everything I bought was encased in some kind of plastic wrap, container, or film.  “How hypocritical is that,” I said to the clerk.  She asked what I meant – “I’m going out of my way to not use plastic bags, yet damn near everything I just purchased is a throw away item made of plastic.”  She looked at me with a blank stare and said – “you can recycle plastic.”  I took my receipt and left the store.

Can you recycle plastic?  Nope, you can’t.  As far as I’m aware, no plastic milk jug has ever been made into another plastic milk jug.  No Coke litter bottles have been made into another Coke bottle.  The great myth of plastic recycling is so pervasive in our society that we all fall victim to it.  I dare any one to find a manufacturer who takes curbside plastic and makes the exact same item from that item.  Plastic can be downcycled in to other uses – like yarns, or park benches, but very little is.

The EPA’s web site is filled with information about plastic – all provided by the American Plastic Council and American Chemistry – its parent company. Glowing reports of plastic “recycling” on the rise permeate the web site, “4 billion pounds was “recycled” last year alone they gloat.  Sounds like a lot, its not.  They produced 28 billion TONS last year and 27 billion tons made it to the landfills.  Remember there are 2,000 pounds per ton – I’ll let you do the math.  So why does the US Governmentallow a special interest like American Chemistry to post their propaganda on their site?  Simple, the EPA doesn’t have the time and money to do the research themselves.  The FDA does the same, allows companies to submit their own “research” to substantiate their claims.  So the plastic recycling myth continues. Most of this recycling myth is perpetuated by the virgin plastic manufacturers.  They aren’t interested in finding solution to re-using what they make, curbside plastic is contaminated, and can’t be made pure enough for their uses.  They place a cleaver little “recycle” symbol on everything made – but its actually a system for letting those in the plastic industry know what chemicals are used in its manufacture – like fire retardants, hardeners, softeners and other chemicals.

I encourage you to search this yourself, plug in plastic recycling and you’ll get the usual propoganda from American Chemistry, plus a whole lot of concerned people like myself wondering about the Plastic Lifestyle we lead.


Freeway Trash Snowstorm

July 9, 2009

There was a lovely snow storm this July, sorry you missed it. I was coming in on I-5, as the wind blew the bright white fluff all over my Prius, up and down the lanes, and into every bush, drain cover and field.  Yes, lovely except for it was Styrofoam coming out of an uncovered pick-up truck.  The foam covered miles of the freeway, and as every car ran over this crap, it broke it down into smaller and smaller pieces, making it nearly impossible to clean up after this irresponsible driver.  And off to the rivers and streams this goes – and finally into our oceans.

This frustrating incident got me thinking about the millions of tons of debris and pollution caused by pick up trucks and other careless drivers.  Not that the truck itself is an inherently bad thing – its the drivers, their hasty and frantic need to haul anything that will blow away, and the total lack of response when they lose a load.

I started doing some research on statistics on total amounts of freeway trash, it was startling to read an unending stream of newspaper stories, blogs, state reports, federal reports about this very issue.  Some agencies estimate between 3,000 and 5,000 pieces of trash (large and small) on every mile of freeway across America.  That seems astronomical.  However, it opened my eyes, I started seeing trash everywhere on my last few errands.  Have I become so used to seeing plastic bags, cigarette butts, paper shreds, and pop bottles?  We will ever get a handle on this, or are we destined to be living in our own waste?  It took a snow storm of styro to wake me (back) up, what will it take for the rest of us…