By now, many or most of you have seen the shocking viral video of a sea turtle with a plastic drinking straw stuck up its nose and the team of ocean researchers attempting to pull it out. I don’t normally like to begin posts with gruesome images, but in this case, I’m hoping this video will not simply horrify you but also fill your heart with compassion and spur you to action. It’s 8 minutes long, and if you have the patience to watch the entire thing, it’s worth it.… Read the rest
Five years ago, a photo changed my life. I was just a regular American, choosing double plastic bags at the grocery store, drinking bottled water, living on microwaveable meals and energy bars wrapped in plastic, and buying whatever I wanted whenever I wanted without ever considering how things were made or where they were going to end up. I gave money to Greenpeace, watched environmental documentaries, and had even worked briefly for Clean Water Action right after college, but my environmental actions did not extend to my personal choices.
Images that change lives
And then one night, In June 2007, sitting alone at the computer, I stumbled across an article about the ocean plastic pollution problem and saw the photo that shocked me like no other had. It was a poor quality image of a dead albatross chick on Midway Island–halfway between the United States and Japan and thousands of miles from any civilization–that was full … Read the rest
The text message I sent my sister Friday night was, “OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There was a rat in our toilet bowl tonight!”
You know the urban legend about rats and snakes and other critters swimming up through the sewer pipes into your toilet? It’s not an urban legend. Not where rats are concerned, anyway.
This story gets pretty gross, so be warned.
We buy Swheatscoop cat litter. It comes in a paper bag, not plastic, and it’s made from wheat, so it’s compostable and flushable. Our cats love it. In fact, they love it a little too much.
[2016 Update: Today, we use Integrity cat litter. Swheatscoop switched to a plastic bag.]
Which is why ever since this incident in 2008, we’ve kept the bag out of reach of little critters.
Wheat litter is flushable (as long as your cats don’t have toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that kills sea otters, which ours don’t) but even still, sometimes… Read the rest
Three years ago, I saw a photo of a dead albatross chick filled with plastic pieces and knew I had to be the voice for those who couldn’t speak for themselves.
Sometimes I forget and think my purpose is plastic. But it’s not.
Yeah, I collect my plastic waste; blog about plastic-free alternatives; write to companies to get them to change their products and packaging; and give speeches and interviews on plastic, plastic, plastic. I focus on plastic because so few other activists and organizations do. Because “green” companies still package their products in plastic, and organic foods come wrapped in the stuff.
But my purpose, the reason I speak out on plastic, is for my clients:
Our cats have always eaten their homemade food out of nice ceramic dishes that we got for free or almost free at a yard sale. (Arya is practicing her scary Halloween demon kitty face.)
But apparently, not all cats are so lucky. Michael came home last Friday and told me his workmate’s cat had developed acne, and that her vet said she should stop feeding him from a plastic bowl. Huh? I mean, I’ve heard a lot of negative things about plastic, but that was a really new one for me.
So I Googled “cat acne plastic,” and guess what: it’s conventional wisdom (although I haven’t found a definitive source) that cats can develop acne on their chins from eating out of plastic bowls. (Dogs, too! Google “dog acne plastic.”)
Dirty Plastic Bowls
According to The Spruce:
Plastic food dishes have long been suspected as a culprit in chin acne. Plastic is a magnet for bacteria and dirt that work their way into scratches and… Read the rest
Pot roast and pork chops and fried chicken aren’t so very comforting after you stare into the eyes of the animal. I didn’t need to visit the Farm Sanctuary to realize I had to stop eating animals; I gave up meat after reading a book. But being with the animals — touching them, smelling them, nuzzling into their fur — reinforced just why it is I can’t consider them food anymore.
The thing is, I think I’m grieving a little bit. Grieving the foods that used to bring me such pleasure and also grieving the animals that suffered for that pleasure. But their faces are so beautiful that I mostly just feel joy to live on this planet with so many different kinds of beings. Here are a few that I and my blogger friend Heather Clisby visited at the Farm Sanctuary in Orland, CA last month. Read Heather’s BlogHer post, “Animals as Individuals,” to learn more about the animals’ stories and how they came… Read the rest
Probably. I visited a plastic bag factory this past weekend. I took a lot of pictures and asked a lot of questions, and I’ll write more about what I learned in a future post. But I just had to share this tidbit of information right away: most plastic bags (and other plastics, for that matter) contain “slip agents” to reduce the friction in the material. And what are slip agents made from? Mainly animal fat.
The factory owner I spoke with called it “chicken fat,” but according to an article I found afterward, “Animal Derived Agents in Disposable Systems (PDF),” many of these slip agents are made from rendered beef tallow. Apparently, manufacturers of biotechnology are concerned lately about beef fats used in plastic materials that come in contact with bioprocess fluids. Why? Because of prions. (Aka “mad cow disease.”)
Rendered animals. Just one more reason… Read the rest
I know. You’re probably wondering why I would consider a plastic lighter instead of a match. I’m not! I’m not! Don’t worry. After seeing photos like these of baby albatross chicks who’ve ingested plastic lighters, I would never buy another one of those things.
Detail of photo from the series Midway: Message from the Gyre by Chris Jordan Albatross chicks on Midway Island, thousands of miles from civilization, swallow plastic bottle caps, plastic toys, and plastic lighters. And even if plastic lighers don’t end up inside an unsuspecting animal, they’ll still wind up lasting forever in a landfill.
So let me back up. After seeing photos like the one above of dead albatross chicks two and a half years ago, I made a commitment that after my plastic lighters ran out, I would switch to matches. So even though I still have these plastic lighters in my house, I started looking for plastic-free matches before I … Read the rest
Many of you have seen Chris Jordan’s recent heartbreaking photos of dead albatross chicks on Midway Atoll with bellies full of plastic.
Most recently, beached whales have been found with plastic in their bellies.
People see these images or read these stories, maybe feel sad for a minute, and then go on about their lives. Albatrosses and sea turtles are creatures most of us don’t encounter on a daily basis. Their fate is sad, but it doesn’t directly affect us. Well, I want to show some photos and relate a story from the Terry-Stoler household that brings the issue of harm to animals a little closer to home.
My cat eats plastic. I’ve said this before. Arya eats big holes in polyester fleece blankets:
You should have seen how she went for the polyester… Read the rest