Sunday, 16 December 2018

Drug-resistant superbug spreading in hospitals

© Provided by AFPRelaxNews Researchers said they believe the superbug is spreading rapidly due to the particularly high use of antibiotics in intensive care units, where patients are sickest and strong drugs are prescribed as routine

A superbug resistant to all known antibiotics that can cause "severe" infections or even death is spreading undetected through hospital wards across the world, scientists in Australia warned on Monday. Researchers at the University of Melbourne discovered three variants of the multidrug-resistant bug in samples from 10 countries, including strains in Europe that cannot be reliably tamed by any drug currently on the market.

"We started with samples in Australia but did a global snapshot and found that it's in many countries and many institutions around the world," Ben Howden, director of the university's Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory told AFP. "It seems to have spread."

The bacteria, known as Staphylococcus epidermidis, is related to the better-known and more deadly MRSA. It's found naturally on human skin and most commonly infects the elderly or patients who have had prosthetic materials implanted, such as catheters and joint replacements. "It can be deadly, but it's usually in patients who already are very sick in hospital... it can be quite hard to eradicate and the infections can be severe," Howden said. His team looked at hundreds of S. epidermidis specimens from 78 hospitals worldwide. They found that some strains of the bug made a small change in its DNA that led to resistance to two of the most common antibiotics, often administered in tandem to treat hospital infections.

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Saturday, 15 December 2018

Plastic waste is a threat to wildlife

Say "no" to single-use plastic!

Plastic waste is the Deadliest Monster.

Over a million animals are killed each year when they mistake it for food, or get entangled in plastic debris.

It's time to fight back for wildlife!

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'P' is for the world’s deadliest monster

Plastic waste causes over a million animal deaths annually. FOTO: ISTOCK

Convenient to use, easy to dispose of, & widely available — but single-use plastic just isn’t fantastic in the long run.

In fact, plastic waste leads to the deaths of over a million animals each year. According to a 2015 article in Science magazine, vol. 347, every year, an estimated eight million metric tonnes of plastic waste enter the world’s oceans.

That’s one garbage truck unloading plastic bottles, disposable cutlery, straws, discarded toys and more, into our waters every minute.

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#breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 1,300 organizations from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. These organizations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision.


  • We believe in a world where the land, sky, oceans, and water is home to an abundance of life, not an abundance of plastic, and where the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat is free of toxic by-products of plastic pollution. In this world the principles of environmental justice, social justice, public health, and human rights lead government policy, not the demands of elites and corporations. This is a future we believe in and are creating together.
  • Bring systemic change through a holistic approach tackling plastic pollution across the whole plastics value chain, focusing on prevention rather than cure, and providing effective solutions.
  • We will work to build solidarity between people around the world and impacted communities.

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EPD's "Plastic Free Beach, Tableware First" campaign

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) will hold the "Plastic Free Beach, Tableware First" campaign at all public beaches this summer with the aim of achieving a plastic-free ocean. The campaign seeks to encourage members of the public to go plastic-free on beaches and reduce the use of disposable plastic utensils. It also aims to mobilise support from eateries on beaches or in the vicinity to avoid using or handing out disposable plastic tableware as far as possible. Witnessed by various supporting organisations, a ceremony was held today (July 19) at Repulse Bay Beach to launch the campaign.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, said that the problem of excessive plastic waste is immediate and worldwide, and it is currently a global challenge to prevent plastic waste from entering the marine environment. Through the "Plastic Free Beach, Tableware First" campaign, the Government seeks to raise public awareness on the impact of plastics to the marine environment and the importance of going plastic-free. He said he was delighted to learn that quite a number of food premises, ranging from kiosks selling fish balls and siu mai to high-end restaurants in shopping arcades, have already pledged their support to the campaign to help protect the ocean.

Mr Wong stressed that the campaign is only a starting point and that green promotion efforts to encourage members of the public to reduce the use of disposable plastic tableware will go beyond beaches. He said he hopes that the campaign will serve as a positive example and a promotion drive to encourage all sectors of the community to go plastic-free and minimise the use of disposable plastic tableware. The Government will organise a wide range of public education and publicity campaigns to foster a plastic-free culture for all.

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Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world, study reveals
The average number of fibres found in each 500ml sample ranged from 4.8 in the US to 1.9 in Europe. Photograph: Michael Heim/Alamy

Microplastic contamination has been found in tap water in countries around the world, leading to calls from scientists for urgent research on the implications for health.

Scores of tap water samples from more than a dozen nations were analysed by scientists for an investigation by Orb Media, who shared the findings with the Guardian. Overall, 83% of the samples were contaminated with plastic fibres.

The US had the highest contamination rate, at 94%, with plastic fibres found in tap water sampled at sites including Congress buildings, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters, and Trump Tower in New York. Lebanon and India had the next highest rates.

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Microplastics found in human stools for the first time
Study suggests the tiny particles may be widespread in the human food chain

Microplastics have been found in human stools for the first time, according to a study suggesting the tiny particles may be widespread in the human food chain. The small study examined eight participants from Europe, Japan and Russia. All of their stool samples were found to contain microplastic particles.

Up to nine different plastics were found out of 10 varieties tested for, in particles of sizes ranging from 50 to 500 micrometres. Polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate were the plastics most commonly found.

On average, 20 particles of microplastic were found in each 10g of excreta. Microplastics are defined as particles of less than 5mm, with some created for use in products such as cosmetics but also by the breaking down of larger pieces of plastic, often in the sea.

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Beloved Hong Kong bull Billy found dead with stomach full of plastic bags, prompting call for beachgoers to take their trash home

Hong Kong beachgoers have been urged to take their trash home, after one of the city’s most beloved bovines was found dead with a stomach full of plastic.

Billy, an eight-year-old bull who lived on Pui O beach on the south of Lantau Island, was found dead on Friday, according a post on its Facebook fan page.

An examination showed that the animal’s stomach and intestinal tract had been blocked with enough plastic bags to fill two rubbish bins, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said on Monday evening.

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Hong Kong's Beloved 'Billy the Bull' Found Dead With a Stomach Full of Plastic Bags

Visitors to Hong Kong’s beaches have been warned to keep track of their plastic trash after a bull that was known as a beloved local mascot was found dead with a stomach full of plastic bags.

Billy, an eight-year-old bull who lived on Pui O beach on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island, was reported dead by a Facebook fan page on Saturday, according to the South China Morning Post. The beloved bull’s untimely demise was confirmed Monday by the city’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).

Billy had become something of a local icon for local residents and tourists after joining a herd of local wild buffalo, and was often seen cavorting in the sea and accepting gifts of food, according to the Post. Lantau Buffalo Association chair Ho Loy told the Post that residents were “greatly saddened” by news of Billy’s death. He “helped change the way people thought about cattle” with “his friendly demeanour,” she added.

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Sperm whale washed up in Indonesia had nearly 6kg of plastic bottles, bags in stomach
The 9.5m whale was found in waters near Kapota Island, part of the Wakatobi National Park, south-east of Sulawesi. FOTO: REUTERS

A sperm whale found dead in a national park in Indonesia had nearly 6kg of plastic waste, including 115 cups, in its stomach, park officials said on Tuesday (Nov 20).

The 9.5m whale was found in waters near Kapota Island, part of the Wakatobi National Park, south-east of Sulawesi, the park said in a statement.

The park is famous among divers for its large area of reefs & diverse marine life including rays and whales.

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Thirty plastic bags found in dying whale's stomach
Scientists found more than 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste inside the stomach of the whale (above). PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF BERGEN

A stranded whale in Norway had to be put down after ingesting more than 30 plastic bags & other plastic waste.

Scientists found the non-biodegradable waste inside the whale's stomach after the decision was made that the mammal was not going to survive and should be euthanised.

Despite the huge volume of plastic clogging up the whale's stomach, the fact it died from ingesting the waste was "not surprising", said researchers, as the volume of plastic in our seas continues to grow.

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Whale dies in Thailand after swallowing 80 plastic bags
The small male pilot whale was found barely alive in a canal near the border with Malaysia. PHOTOS: FACEBOOK / DEPARTMENT OF MARINE AND COASTAL RESOURCES THAILAND

A whale has died in southern Thailand after swallowing more than 80 plastic bags, officials said, ending an attempted rescue that failed to nurse the mammal back to health.

Thailand is one of the world's largest consumers of plastic bags, which kill hundreds of marine creatures living near the country's popular beaches each year.

The small male pilot whale became the latest victim after it was found barely alive in a canal near the border with Malaysia, the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said on their Facebook page Saturday.

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Microplastics can spread via flying insects, research shows
Fluorescent microplastics (bright green) are visible inside an adult mosquito. The particles can then spread to animals that eat the insects. Photograph: Al-Jaibachi et al/Biology Letters

Microplastic can escape from polluted waters via flying insects, new research has revealed, contaminating new environments and threatening birds and other creatures that eat the insects.

Scientists fed microplastics to mosquito larvae, which live in water, but found that the particles remained inside the animals as they transformed into flying adults. Other recent research found that half of the mayfly and caddisfly larvae in rivers in Wales contained microplastics.

Concern over microplastic pollution is rising rapidly as it is discovered in ever more places, and very little research has been done on how it may harm wildlife or humans. The particles can harbour bacteria or leach toxic chemicals. Microplastics have been found in tapwater around the world, in vast numbers in the oceans and sea creatures and even in remote Swiss mountains.

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After sheets of clear plastic trash have been washed in the Buriganga River, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Noorjahan spreads them out to dry, turning them regularly— while also tending to her son, Momo. The plastic will eventually be sold to a recycler. Less than a fifth of all plastic gets recycled globally. In the U.S. it’s less than 10 percent.

If plastic had been invented when the Pilgrims sailed from Plymouth, England, to North America—and the Mayflower had been stocked with bottled water and plastic-wrapped snacks—their plastic trash would likely still be around, four centuries later. If the Pilgrims had been like many people today and simply tossed their empty bottles and wrappers over the side, Atlantic waves and sunlight would have worn all that plastic into tiny bits. And those bits might still be floating around the world’s oceans today, sponging up toxins to add to the ones already in them, waiting to be eaten by some hapless fish or oyster, and ultimately perhaps by one of us.

We should give thanks that the Pilgrims didn’t have plastic, I thought recently as I rode a train to Plymouth along England’s south coast. I was on my way to see a man who would help me make sense of the whole mess we’ve made with plastic, especially in the ocean.

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In South Korea, a lesson to be learned from a plastic waste crisis
Despite having one of the world's highest municipal recycling rates, South Korea ended up with a plastic waste problem

When China – for years the world's largest importer of recyclable materials – banned the import of plastic waste from this year, South Korea was left in a bind.

The latter had one of the world’s highest rates of recycling municipal waste – at more than 50 per cent – but following the loss of its biggest buyer of plastic scrap, the country found itself with excess amounts of plastics.

With the plunge in prices of plastic waste caused by Beijing’s ban, 48 of South Korea’s recycling firms even halted the collection of plastic and foam wastes, claiming unprofitability and leaving the trash to pile up on pavements.

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What a load of rubbish: The impact of the Philippines’ sachet economy
A scavenger collects reusable plastic from the illegal open dumpsite in Malapatan town in the southern Philippines. Source: Bong Sarmiento/Mongabay

The last coastal frontier in the Philippine capital provides refuge to migratory birds and a thick mangrove forest there serves as a natural typhoon barrier for millions of city dwellers.

Yet empty plastic water and soda bottles protrude from the sand, tattered clothes and plastic sheets hang over mangrove branches, and heaps of shampoo, toothpaste and soy sauce sachets litter the coastline.

The trash offers a filthy contrast to the tantalizing sunsets Manila Bay is famous for. It also illustrates strikingly the enormity of the garbage problem facing this developing nation of more than 100 million people. An archipelago of over 7,100 islands, the Philippines is the third worst ocean plastic polluter in the world, after China and Indonesia, according to a 2015 study in the journal Science.

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Indonesia’s big plastic cleanup involved 20,000 people in 76 locales
Scavengers collect valuable waste at Sidoarjo garbage dump in East Java, on June 5, 2018. About eight million tonnes of plastic waste are dumped into the world's oceans every year - the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic being tipped into the sea every minute... of every day. Over half comes from five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, according to a 2015 study in Science journal. Source: Juni Kriswanto/AFP

“WE NEED to keep this river clean,” says Muhammad Yusuf, a fisheries official from Padang, the capital of the Indonesian province of West Sumatra. “We’ve got to keep people from dumping trash here.” Nearby, where the river meets the ocean, Padang’s idyllic beaches have become an eyesore, littered with plastic trash. “We need to make better environmental decisions,” Muhammad says, picking a plastic bag from the water.

Muhammad was one of some 20,000 Indonesians who participated in “Face the Sea”, a one-day event held simultaneously in 76 locations across the country on Aug 19. The purpose of the event was to draw attention to the alarming spread of plastic waste in the oceans, and the need for better approaches to address the burgeoning crisis.

Indonesia is the world’s second-largest plastic polluter, after China. It produces 3.2 million tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste a year, 1.29 million tonnes of which ends up in the sea.

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Bali declares 'garbage emergency' amid sea of waste
Rubbish collectors clearing trash on Kuta beach near Denpasar, on Indonesia's tourist island of Bali. PHOTO: AFP

Bali's palm-fringed Kuta beach has long been a favourite with tourists seeking sun & surf, but nowadays its golden shoreline is disappearing under a mountain of garbage.

Plastic straws & food packaging are strewn between sunbathers, while surfers bobbing behind the waves dodge waste flushed out from rivers or brought in by swirling currents.

"When I want to swim, it is not really nice. I see a lot of garbage here every day, every time," Austrian traveller Vanessa Moonshine explains.

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Plastic wasteland: Asia's ocean pollution crisis
This photo taken on May 12, 2018 shows Perigrina Santos, 81, collecting her laundry next to a garbage-filled creek in Manila. The blanket of trash on a creek that flows between the makeshift homes of a Manila slum is so dense it appears one could walk across it like a paved street. PHOTO: AFP

A Vietnamese mangrove draped with polythene, a whale killed after swallowing waste bags in Thai seas and clouds of underwater trash near Indonesian "paradise" islands - grim images of the plastic crisis that has gripped Asia.

About eight million tonnes of plastic waste are dumped into the world's oceans every year, the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic being tipped into the sea every minute of every day.

More than half comes from five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand & Vietnam, according to a 2015 Ocean Conservancy report.

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Pacific Ocean plastic dump much larger than feared
Plastic trash is seen strewn across a beach at Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean on Feb 2, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

The vast dump of plastic waste swirling in the Pacific Ocean is now bigger than France, Germany & Spain combined - far larger than previously feared - and is growing rapidly, a study published on Thursday (March 22) warned.

Researchers based in the Netherlands used a fleet of boats & aircraft to scan the immense accumulation of bottles, containers, fishing nets & microparticles known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" (GPGP) and found an astonishing build-up of plastic waste.

"We found about 80,000 tonnes of buoyant plastic currently in the GPGP," Dr Laurent Lebreton, lead author of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports, told AFP.

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Japan, China worst contributors to plastic pollution at Pacific ‘plastic island
Nearly 38 million pieces of rubbish are on Henderson Island. Source: NPDstock / Shutterstock

UNINHABITED and extremely remote, Henderson Island in the South Pacific Ocean has been found to have the highest density of plastic debris on the planet by a scientific study published this week.

Almost 40 percent of the rubbish, the study says, was identified as coming from China and Japan alone. Some 37.7 million pieces of debris have washed up on the island’s beaches, of which 99.8 percent is plastic. Henderson Island is a UK territory more than 5,000km from the nearest major land mass, which Unesco has listed for its “outstanding universal value.”

In analysing the rubbish, scientists found that China and Japan were the most common countries of origin for identifiable objects at 18.2 percent and 18.1 percent, respectively. They were followed by Chile – which is much more closely located geographically – at 12.5 percent.

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World’s biggest plastic polluters revealed

The world’s most powerful consumer goods brands are also the biggest plastic polluters, a global study by environmental groups has found. Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency has projected plastic use to soar, driven by developing Asia’s growing appetite for consumers goods.

Sugary drinks giant Coca-Cola, a company valued at US$56.4 billion, emerged as by far the most common brand in audits of plastic debris found on beaches and in waterways, parks and streets around the world. Coke-branded plastic items, which includes the Schweppes, Fanta and Dasani brands the Atlanta-headquartered company owns, were found in 40 of the 42 countries where environmental groups have conducted cleanups and brand audits since September 2016.

PepsiCo and Nestlé, the world’s third and second most powerful consumer goods firms, respectively, were found to be the second and third biggest polluters among the 180,000 pieces of plastic waste collected.

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Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé found to be worst plastic polluters worldwide in global cleanups and brand audits

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé were the most frequent companies identified in 239 cleanups and brand audits spanning 42 countries and six continents, the Break Free From Plastic movement announced today. Over 187,000 pieces of plastic trash were audited, identifying thousands of brands whose packaging relies on the single-use plastics that pollute our oceans and waterways globally. Coca-Cola was the top polluter in the global audit, with Coke-branded plastic pollution found in 40 of the 42 participating countries. This brand audit effort is the most comprehensive snapshot of the worst plastic polluting companies around the world.

“These brand audits offer undeniable proof of the role that corporations play in perpetuating the global plastic pollution crisis,” said Global Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic Von Hernandez. “By continuing to churn out problematic and unrecyclable throwaway plastic packaging for their products, these companies are guilty of trashing the planet on a massive scale. It’s time they own up and stop shifting the blame to citizens for their wasteful and polluting products.”

The audits, led by Break Free From Plastic member organizations[1], found that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Danone, Mondelez International, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Perfetti van Melle, Mars Incorporated, and Colgate-Palmolive were the most frequent multinational brands collected in cleanups, in that order. This ranking of multinational companies included only brands that were found in at least ten of the 42 participating countries. Overall, polystyrene, which is not recyclable in most locations, was the most common type of plastic found, followed closely by PET, a material used in bottles, containers, and other packaging.

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Nestlé, Unilever, P&G among worst offenders for plastic pollution

A week-long beach clean up has exposed the companies most responsible for plastic pollution after an audit of plastic waste conducted on Freedom Island, a critical wetland habitat and Ramsar site spanning 30 hectares in Manila Bay – one of the worst areas for plastic pollution in the Philippines.

The Greenpeace Philippines and #breakfreefromplastic movement audit, the first of its kind in the country, revealed that Nestlé, Unilever, and Indonesian company PT Torabika Mayora are the top three contributors of plastic waste discovered in the area, contributing to the 1.88 million metric tonnes of mismanaged plastic wastes in the Philippines per year.

“When we throw something away, there is no ‘away’. The Philippines is the third biggest source of plastic ocean pollution because global corporations are locking us into cheap, disposable plastics, rather than innovating and finding solutions,” said Abigail Aguilar, Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines.

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Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé found to be worst plastic polluters worldwide
Freedom Island Coastal Cleanup and Brand Audit in 2017 (Photo from

The Break Free From Plastic movement announced today (9th October) that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé were the most frequent companies identified in 239 clean-ups and brand audits spanning 42 countries and six continents. Over 187,000 pieces of plastic trash were audited, identifying thousands of brands whose packaging relies on the single-use plastics that pollute our oceans and waterways globally. Coca-Cola was the top polluter in the global audit, with Coke-branded plastic pollution found in 40 of the 42 participating countries. This brand audit effort is the most comprehensive snapshot of the worst plastic polluting companies around the world.

“These brand audits are putting responsibility back where it belongs, with the corporations producing endless amounts of plastics that end up in the Indian Ocean,” said Griffins Ochieng, Programmes Coordinator for the Centre for Environment Justice and Development in Kenya. “We held clean-ups and brand audits in two locations in Kenya to identify the worst corporate polluters in the region and hold them accountable. It is more urgent than ever, for the sake of communities that rely on the ocean for their livelihoods, health and well-being, to break free from plastic.”

Break Free From Plastic is calling on corporations to reduce their use of single-use plastic, redesign delivery systems to minimize or eliminate packaging, and take responsibility for the plastic pollution they are pumping into already strained waste management systems and the environment. While the brand audits do not provide a complete picture of companies’ plastic pollution footprints, they are the best indication to date of the worst plastic polluters globally.

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Plastic pollution: Bottle washed up after decades
The "almost new" looking bottle was washed up on Brean Beach during last week's high tides

A plastic washing-up liquid bottle that is at least 47 years old has been found on a beach in Somerset. The Fairy Liquid bottle was washed up on Brean Beach during last week's high tides. Up to 400 tonnes of rubbish ended up on the beach.

Burnham Coastguard said: "This bottle still looks almost new - it's shocking how long rubbish can survive." Marked 4d off, the bottle dates back to before decimalisation in Britain in 1971.

"There was about 300 to 400 tonnes of stuff that had been washed up overnight," said Dave Welland, coastguard station officer.

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Why is plastic problematic?

Marine life is facing "irreparable damage" from the millions of tonnes of plastic waste which ends up in the oceans each year, the United Nations has warned.

"This is a planetary crisis... we are ruining the ecosystem of the ocean," UN oceans chief Lisa Svensson told the BBC.

But how does this happen, where is most at risk and what damage does this plastic actually do?

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The RICE Team’s Plastic Use is Killing the Planet. Chances Are, So is Yours

As workaholics who have too much to do and too little knowledge in the way of time management, most of the RICE team eats a sad desk lunch at least once a week. When we do, we dabao from the nearest hawker centre. We don’t bring our own containers or tumblers, so a standard lunch usually includes one plastic takeaway container or styrofoam box, one plastic bag or cup for a drink, a plastic straw, and at least two plastic utensils.

Occasionally, we even end up with a number of small plastic containers containing sauces, or an additional plastic bag with snacks for the afternoon. On top of this, there is at least one larger plastic bag to carry our food back to the office.

Essentially, one person can use about eight plastic items in just one afternoon. The number may be a rough gauge, but the statistic was enough to shock me into formulating an experiment to highlight our apathy towards plastic use. In order to track and minimise our individual plastic use, I got everyone to note all the plastic items they used in a week, including those outside office hours.

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7 Reasons To Never Drink Bottled Water Again

As a water-lover and expert on global water ethics, I see H2O everywhere: waterfalls and lakes, drought and flood, sparkling, still, bottled, tap, from a well, in the surf, behind a dam, in plastic, in glass, from the cooler at yoga class, with or without ice. How we drink our water shows us what kind of society we are. I want my body and my society to reflect sustainable values, so I only drink disposable, plastic bottled water if there is absolutely no alternative. If I were in a truly extreme situation—say, a cholera epidemic, an area without reliable water supply, or a desert, for example—then I would drink bottled water. Happily, most of us are not in those situations. And wonderful alternatives are easily available. Sound extreme? It’s not, when you consider these 7 truths about bottled water. Read on, and become a healthier person, a smarter consumer, and a global citizen:
  • Plastic bottles are not sustainable, no matter what we've been told - Using vast quantities of fossil fuels and water, these bottles are manufactured, filled, and shipped around the globe. (Not a good carbon footprint!) Neither are bottles biodegradable in any meaningful way: what you drink in a few minutes can stick around for a thousand years. Even with recycling efforts, 6 out of 7 plastic bottles consumed in the U.S. are “downcycled”—sent somewhere out of sight and out of mind where, for the next millennia, toxins from degrading plastic containers can leach into watersheds and soil. That’s just not something we need to give to global neighbors and future generations.
  • Some bottled water is glorified tap water at 10,000 times the cost - The label on your bottled water may depict a peaceful mountain stream, but that doesn't mean the water inside is pure and pristine. Only some bottled water comes from springs or groundwater sources. It turns out that approximately 25% of bottled water is sourced from ... the tap. Sure, some companies filter or radiate the tap water with ultraviolet light before selling it to you at several thousand times the cost of municipal tap water. (Examples include Aquafina, Dasani, and many other brands.). Moreover, studies show that bottled water samples can contain phthalates, mold, microbes, benzene, trihalomethanes, even arsenic. And only recently did the FDA start regulating bottled water for E. Coli, thanks to advocacy by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Upshot: bottled water markup is extreme. Health standards are often a wash and may even favor tap water. (If you’re concerned about municipal water supply and want to know more, check out this helpful resource, which can help you learn about your municipal water supply and decide if filtration or purification is right for you.)
  • Many bottled waters contain toxins, even if they've nixed BPA - Plastic isn't just bad for the planet (see #1). It’s not good for you, either. Bottled water companies increasingly use BPA-free plastic, but laced into plastic bottles are other chemicals that can seep out if bottles are exposed to heat or sit around for a long time. Some of these chemicals are possible endocrine disruptors. No one knows for sure what the health outcomes are. Do you really want your body to undergo that experiment?
  • Fashion, foodies, and sustainable cities are taking back the tap - New York City’s Fashion Week, Chez Panisse, the city of San Francisco and Grand Canyon National Park have all reduced or eliminated bottled water! AVEDA teamed up with New York’s Department of Environmental Protection during Fashion Week 2010 to provide free drinking fountains on the streets of New York.
  • Local water is the new complement to local, organic food - Local food is everywhere these days: CSAs, farmers markets, farm-to-table dining. That local food is grown and cooked with … local water! It’s the invisible part of the sustainable, healthy food you eat. So, locavores, it’s time to get your hydrophilia on and appreciate your water supply just as much as you do your CSA. Shouldn’t we care for and support our water sources like we support healthy, organic, local farms?
  • There ARE gorgeous alternatives for on-the-go hydrophiles - Choose a durable, re-useable water bottle (BPA-free or, even better, stainless steel) in whatever size or shape and design you like. I think of it as an accessory: at my most recent job interview, a team member commented on my green, reusable water bottle. (I got the job.) For home, try the new, limited edition Soma water carafe and filter. It’s a sleek, glass carafe with the first-ever fully biodegradable filter (made from coconut shells—stupendously cool), with a new filter sent automatically every 60 days. As a working professional and parent with an eye for design, I love this. For those who want an in-sink filtration system, check out this helpful resource from Food & Water Watch. And for sparkling water addicts (like myself), I highly recommend Soda Stream.
  • Change is simple and makes a real difference - When you ditch disposable bottled water, you save money, live healthier, and join a movement for global sustainability. Plus, it’s easy. And you’ll save money. Yes, you’ll need to take that first step of buying your re-usable bottle, and then remember it when you jog out the door. But if “keys, wallet, yoga mat” are on your mental checklist anyway, what’s one more item that saves you money and protects the planet? If after six months, you still crave water from Fiji, then I suggest the following: take the money you’ve saved by sipping strategically. Treat yourself to a vacation in, well, Fiji—where you can hydrate, surf, relax, and celebrate the fact that you are an awesome part of the solution!

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Why Plastic is Actually Better Than Paper in Packaging
Guide: Why is plastic a problem?
Nestlé, Unilever, P&G worst offenders for plastic pollution in Philippines
What are the world's biggest plastic polluters doing about the problem?
The least effective way to solve Southeast Asia's plastic pollution problem
Global brands are the Philippines' biggest plastic polluters, study reveals
NewsGlobal brands are the Philippines' biggest plastic polluters
Nestle’s new plastic reduction plan is 'greenwashing baby steps'