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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #41  
Old 01-17-2008
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The gyres of plastic in the oceans of the world are real. The problem is a result of over 50 years of dumping plastic in and it's a problem that has a scale that is as large as atmospheric CO2. But we don't stop driving cars; and we don't stop buying plastic. We can't watchdog every country that dumps it's trash into rivers and we don't insist upon cleanup of shipping containers when they are lost at sea or a ship carrying them sinks.

20 years ago every ship at sea sent their entire volume of waste including plastic into the sea. Today that's restricted to bio-degradable waste; which is a big improvement. 99% of us on this website sail in fiber reinforced plastic boats yet if we were confronted with the removal cost of our boat from the bottom of the sea should it sink; well there goes the feasibility of sailing (or concrete hulls and teak interiors would make a BIG comeback).

As far as oeanic plastic goes; the damage is done. The 'prevention' phase has pretty much passed; the real issue is how to clean it up. At some point plastic that remains in the sea will become part of the marine sediment and get trapped/recycled in the geology of the seafloor. Other plastics will wash ashore or get coughed up by birds and collected by people who clean their shores. Plastic gill nets are a bigger environmental issue but that's another thread...

If you want to make a real difference in the amount of plastic in our environment; stop buying plastic products. It's nearly impossible to do this; but reducing the amount of plastic packaging by buying larger packages (IE big box store) is a start. It's shameful that product packaging is increasing because the products are being downsized for profit.

Buy bio-degradable paper plates to throw overboard when you have a MOB situation :-)
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  #42  
Old 01-17-2008
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We could start reducing the plastics by demanding paper sacks at the Grocery stores. The trees use in the paper are renewable and grown on tree farms. This is from a person whose home town main employer is a paper mill.
But the main thing is; that it is disheartening to see trash in the Oceans. But for most people it is out of sight and out of mind. They toss soda/beer cans, plastic bags, and all manners of other plastic as they cross the ocean. They don't think on how it accumulates and becomes a hazard to more then just the sea life. Boats have been disabled by plastics in the ocean. When you get a plastic bag sucked into your sea suction or wrapped around your propeller (there large sheets of plastic wrap floating around out there).
So folks pease keep your plastics on board and put them in the proper dumpster when you return to shore.
Keep Our Oceans Clean.
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  #43  
Old 01-17-2008
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Idiens brings up the most relevant of facts. Most of the pollution's origin is from the shore. A fact which makes the Dog's original thesis spurious.

Utilizing biodegradable materials at sea is eminently sensible. On shore it is actually counterproductive. Plastic bags take up far less landfill space than do paper bags and neither break down within the landfill. Plastic diapers are even a better idea than cloth as they take up less landfill space and result in far less contamination of ground water supplies than do the cloth via washing.

Hydrocarbons are a naturally occuring phenomena in the ocean. The entire argument becomes facile when biologists are unwilling to say that they have no exact idea of what is truly normal in nature or what nature is able to tolerate. Again, no one is in favor of wanton pollution, but to ignore the fact that nature herself pollutes quite readily and often smacks only of human arrogance and does nothing to advance sensible policies.
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Old 03-08-2008
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The link below on plastic bags caused me to revisit this issue and do a minor amount of research. "Nurdles" are pre-production plastics, not trash as we commonly define it, and should certainly be kept out of the water. The plastic plates that started this thread and the plastic bags that everyone is so worried about are dealt with in the below article. It should serve, once again, as a reminder to us to not go off half-cocked based upon incomplete or erroneous information.
Series of blunders turned the plastic bag into global villain - Times Online
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