• Future-Maps

    The geophysical landscape of planet Earth is about to change. If historic events are repeating themselves, then here are some representations of what those changes may look like.

  • Acceleration

    Find out what’s behind the conscious acceleration that everyone’s talking about. Watch the video that provides a detailed understanding of how and why this is happening.

  • Civil-Unrest

    Learn how over population, the depletion of natural resources, deterioration of global health, a coming economic depression, and worldwide famine is creating global chaos and eventual martial law.

  • Preperation

    Create a survival or sustainable shelter with help from a blueprint on community lifestyle and architectural design. Learn from those who have paved the way for the rest of us.

  • Safe Location

    Find out how to determine if your survival or sustainable location is safe for the coming events. Read about the considerations from fire, water, elevation, volcanoes, people, and much more.

  • Cosmic-Event

    Read about the various cosmic theories including: SuperWave, Plasma Ribbon, Sun’s heliosphere, PlanetX or Niburu, and the coming alignment between the celestial and galactic equators.v

  • Geophysical

    Review the science from past, present, and future geophysical events including: the next ice age, magnetic and geographic pole shifts, changes in the Earth’s crust, extreme heat from the Sun,


Videos Archives

Timeline To The Future

Through 20 years of research, Ivan Stein has created a detailed understanding of the timeline of events leading up to these these historic times. These events include: economic depression, world war III, food & water shortage, martial law, exponential conscious evolution, earth changes, geophysical and magnetic pole shift, passing galactic equator, and entering a new ice age.


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Chemicals and VOC's in Mattresses

Health agencies deem exposure to some of the chemicals found in mattresses safe in small quantities.

Toxins can now be found in nearly all common household products; from carpets to microwaves, paints, couches, mattresses and baby cribs to children's clothing. Many of these toxins accumulate in the body and are never expelled. Reactions to chemical odors or mattress component offgassing is very real.

The body regenerates and recharges itself during sleep; prolonged exposure to VOC's and toxic chemicals when your body is in this vulnerable state should not be taken lightly.

Components Found in Mattresses

T = toxic chemical
N = non-toxic chemical
G = natural


(Solvent Based)











1,1,1, 2-Tetrachloroethane












Acrylate resins





Asbestos Fluorinated polymers









Beryllium and Compounds



Carbon tetrachloride



Cellulose nitrate plastic polymers









Chromium and compounds



Cobalt and compounds



Cone essence













Dioxins and furans



diphenyl diisocyanate






Emulsion of Hevea brasiliensis milk in water










Glycol ethers



Halogenated benzenes



Halogenated napthalenes



Halogenated triphenyls






Haologenated idphenyl ethers



Hevea brasiliensis milk







Hydrolyzed corn






Lead carbonate



Lead hydrocarbonate



Lead sulfate






metallic oxides




Methyl benzene (toluene)




Methylene dianiline







Organo-tin compounds



Perfluorocarbons Benzene



Phenol-melamine resins









Phenylcyclohexane Benzidine



Polychlorinated phenols



Polyvinyl acetate























Thallium and compounds



toluene diisocyanate







Vinilideine chloride




Vinyl acetate









Waxes styrene-butadiene copolymer





Diphenyl diisocyanate is an ingredient used in the production of natural latex foam. It allows a components of a formula to blend properly together. Our formula is a water based solution diphenyl diisocyanate polymerizes in the presence of water, its ecological risks are low. It has traditionally been used for the production of latex foam, some european urethane manufacturers have blended this component with Toluene diisocyanate in the attempt of reducing toluene content.

Phenol-melamine resins are used in the production of natural latex foam; this component is what creates the flexible properties to the foam. This component has more value in conventional latex, while a zero gravity pressure relieving foam requires less flexibility.

Waxes styrene-butadiene copolymer is used to add resistance and longevity to natural foams. This component has excellent abrasion resistance when properly blended. This component is most commonly used in blends of natural latex. This component is considered a thickening agent and gelling agent and contains vegetal based waxes.


About the Application of Glues in Standard Mattresses


Mattress manufacturers use glues to bond the inner layers of mattresses together as well as to bond the fabric cover to the core. Adhesives can be rolled to bond each layer or can be diluted in water and sprayed over each surface to be bonded. This second application method allows manufacturers to call their glue a "water based adhesive".

A water based adhesive is a simple process whereby water is mixed in with a solvent based adhesive to facilitate spraying the glue over each mattress surface. When the glue dries, all water molecules in the adhesive evaporate and only the adhesive which emit VOC's is left behind.

The long-term health effects that may occur after prolonged exposure to Volatile Organic Content (VOC) found in Adhesive/Glue solvents include cancers, damage to the heart, liver, central nervous system and kidneys.

Components used for the production of polyurethane memory foams

Components researched: isocynates; methylene chloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane; acetone; benzene; ethylene oxide; formaldehyde


Biological Monitoring - Is memory foam safe?


Clinical evaluations conducted by Duke University; Source ATSDR - Public health advisory Public Health Implications: The exact amount of TDI required to cause adverse health effects is unknown. People have become sensitized after being exposed to as little as 20 parts per billion (ppb). After sensitization there is no amount of TDI that one may be exposed to safely. Studies have shown that in sensitized individuals, asthmatic attacks can occur after exposed to TDI air concentrations as low as 0.1 ppb.

Testing Results: Of 113 participants tested, 10 participant (9%) developed antibodies.

Perfumes and Deodorizers

Certain imported polyurethane memory foam products have industrial perfumes to mask the chemical odour that exists in their products.


Chemicals Found in Air Fresheners:


o Tributyltin maleate (carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity etc)
o Bonded quatermary ammonium chloride compounds
o Decamethcyclopentasiloxane
o Phenolics (
o Ozone
o Paradichlorobenzene (anticipated to be a carcinogen)
o Fragrances

Super 6.25 Essentia Material

All our mattresses and their components are manufactured in Canada by Essentia Groupe Inc.







Conditioning Loss (mm)






Height Loss (mm)






Firmness Rating Change






Hardness Change (%)






n/a = Does not pass minimum criteria for Standards



Comparative Testing Results - Mobel Pruf Institute / Supplied through LTXCO - EN1957

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Should You Ditch Your Chemical Mattress?



Susan Greenfield and her girlfriend Llina Kempner couldn't wait for their new memory-foam mattress top to arrive. For months, they'd heard friends rave about how the high-tech material molds itself to your body. But when they unwrapped the three-inch-thick pad in their Manhattan apartment, they noticed a strong, acrid odor. "My nose and my lungs were miserable," recalls Greenfield. For the two nights Kempner slept on the mattress top, she felt nauseated. After Greenfield, who is chemically sensitive, had an asthma attack in the middle of the night, the couple returned the mattress pad. But its stench lingered in the apartment for weeks.


Reactions like Greenfield's are relatively rare, but you, too, might lose some sleep when you find out what's really inside your mattress-memory foam or not. The place where you spend one-third of your life is chock-full of synthetic materials, some potentially toxic. Since the mid- to late '60s, most mattresses have been made of polyurethane foam, a petroleum-based material that emits volatile organic compounds that can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation. Formaldehyde, which is used to make one of the adhesives that hold mattresses together, has been linked to asthma, allergies, and lung, nose, and throat cancers. And then there are cotton pesticides and flame-retardant chemicals, which can cause cancer and nervous-system disorders. In 2005, Walter Bader, owner of the "green mattress" company Lifekind and author of the book Toxic Bedrooms, sent several mattresses to an Atlanta-based lab. A memory-foam model was found to emit 61 chemicals, including the carcinogens benzene and naphthalene.

There is no proven health risk from the substances in mattresses, however, mostly because tracking their long-term effects is virtually impossible. Heather Stapleton, an environmental chemist at Duke University, says there's simply not enough data to determine whether low levels of these chemicals will eventually make people sick. "It's the dose that makes the poison," she says. "If they're not getting out, maybe it's not a problem-but we don't know. There are plenty of lab studies that show that these compounds are harmful. It's just a question of what levels people are exposed to."

Still, more and more consumers are seeking out mattresses made of natural latex, organic cotton batting, and organic wool. Sales of California-based Vivètique's latex mattresses have increased by 40 percent annually for the past five years-they now comprise 45 percent of the company's total sales. And they are even sold by discounter 1-800-Mattress.

It's hard to say whether you should ditch your conventional bed in favor of a green one, since you'll likely have a tough time figuring out exactly which toxins are lurking under your covers. Take, for example, fireproofing chemicals: Pentabde, a member of the polybrominated diphenyl ether (pbde) family of flame retardants, was used in some mattresses before 2004, when it was phased out. (Pentabde is now known to be toxic to the liver, thyroid, and nervous system.) So let's say that just to be on the safe side you toss your pre-2004 mattress and buy a new one. Problem solved? Maybe not. Last July, the Consumer Product Safety Commission began to require that all mattresses sold in the United States be able to withstand 30 minutes of exposure to an open flame.

Mattress makers aren't using Pentabde anymore-but it's not clear exactly what they are using to meet the new standard. Major manufacturers such as Simmons, Sealy, and Tempur-Pedic won't divulge their flame-retardant formulas, which are considered trade secrets. A Simmons press release touts a "proprietary blend of char-forming, intumescing, flame-resistant components." Tempur-Pedic vaguely states that its products "consistently meet all safety standards." A best guess at what's in today's mattresses comes from Ryan Trainer, executive vice president of the International Sleep Products Association, an industry group. He says most companies use "various types of barrier fabrics" such as cotton treated with boric acid or rayon treated with silica-both relatively benign chemicals-as well as fire-resistant materials such as modacrylic fiber (which contains antimony oxide, a carcinogen) and melamine resin (which contains formaldehyde).

With a doctor's prescription, people who are chemically sensitive and have allergies can order a mattress that doesn't pass a flammability test. But organic-mattress companies have found a simple way to fireproof: wrapping their bedding in a layer of wool. Their prices aren't so warm and cozy-a queen-size latex model from Virginia-based Savvy Rest starts at $1,599. But if you're having nightmares about your mattress, and it's time to trade in your well-worn Posturepedic anyway, it might be worth it.

Susan Greenfield was a fan of organic mattresses even before the smelly memory-foam pad showed up-she's slept on one for 15 years, says she "loves" it, and describes it as "very comfortable but very hard." Hey, whatever helps you sleep at night.

It is recommended for optimal health to live a life free from chemicals. Buying an organic mattresses and pillows is saying no to these destructive chemicals that are harmful for the brain and lungs. These chemicals are so harsh that they can not be cleansed or removed out of the brain tissues and lungs very easily. Real organic material is the only option for those who choose the path of health.


1. Tinnerberg H, Dalene M, Scarping G, Air and biological monitoring of toluene diisocyanate in a flexible
foam plant. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 58:229-235 (1997)
2. Bernstein JA. Overview of diisocyanate occupational asthma. Toxicoligy 111:181-189 (1996)
3. Wegman D, Pagnatto L, Fine L, Peters J, A dose - responsive relationship in TDI workers. J Occup
Med 16:258-260 (1974)
4. Bauer X, Merek W, Ammon J, Czuppon A, Marczynski B, Raulf-Heimsoth M, Roemmelt H, Fruhmann
G. Respiratory and other hazards of isocynates. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 66:141:152 (1994)
5. California Environmental Protection Agency. Determination of Formaldehyde and Toluene Diisocyanate
Emissions from Indoor Residential Sources. Contract no. 93-315 Columbus, OH:Battelle, 1996.
6. ACGIH. Documentation of the Threshold limit Values and Biological Exposure Indices, 5th ed.
Cincinati, OH: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, 1986.

Back to the Health Resources

By Phil Livingston

Getting Started


The bulk of our energy comes from coal, oil, and natural gas—exhaustible resources that create pollution when burned. Renewable energy (RE) is non-polluting energy that comes from inexhaustible resources, such as wind, sunshine, and falling water. Using more RE and less nonrenewable energy means less pollution produced. Plus, RE can provide personal and national energy security freeing you from a lifetime of utility bills and reducing the United States´ reliance on imported fuels.



Conservation & Efficiency


Many people get entranced by RE technologies—solar-electric (photovoltaic; PV) modules, and microhydro and wind turbines. But the first focus of anyone wanting to invest in RE should be conservation and efficiency.

Conservation involves changing your energy use behaviors from wasteful, inefficient habits (such as leaving on the lights when you leave a room) to energy-saving ones (turning off the lights every time you leave a room). This is a conscious choice—although you are using the same fixtures, you´re making an effort to minimize your energy consumption.

Efficiency, on the other hand, is reducing energy consumption—without changing your lifestyle—by using efficient appliances. As energy efficiency expert Amory Lovins once said, energy efficiency is a "technical fix." Using the previous examples, the efficiency solution would be to swap out incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFs), which only use about a quarter of the energy.

Both conservation and efficiency work hand in hand. Apply the basic principles of conservation and efficiency to all of your energy choices, before looking at harnessing renewable energy. It makes very little sense to put PVs on your roof before you have LED's in your light fixtures.

Conservation and energy efficiency are low-hanging fruit, to be picked before moving forward with solar electricity or hot water systems. By reducing your energy demand, you will greatly reduce the cost of your RE systems when you´re ready to have them installed. Every dollar you spend on efficiency measures will save you roughly $3 to $5 on your renewable energy system costs.

Energy Efficient Appliances


Using efficient appliances can make a world of difference in the amount of energy we consume. Huge advances have been made in a variety of appliances. Here are a few examples:


    • Incandescent bulbs produce 95 percent heat and 5 percent light—little has changed since the days of Edison. Welcome to the 21st century-let´s try something new. When you think of compact fluorescent lights, try not to picture the flickering harsh light of years gone by. Modern CFs may provide superior light quality and operational lifetimes over incandescent bulbs, but they contain mercury and are very dangerous when broken. Check out some of the new LED Bulbs on the market—you will be pleasantly surprised. Modern LED Bulbs are far less dangerous for your health.

    • In the 1970s, the average refrigerator consumed about 1,500 KWH per year. Today, this number has dropped to about 500 KWH for efficient models. If your refrigerator is more than five years old, replacing it with a more energy efficient unit is a good place to start. Energy Star-qualified refrigerators use 40 percent less energy than conventional models sold in 2001.

  • In the past decade, improvements have been made in clothes washer and dryer technologies. New, energy efficient washers agitate on a horizontal axis rather than a vertical one, decreasing the amount of water needed in the washer. Less water used means reduced water-heating bills. The new breed of washers also spins out more water than previous machines, so clothes require less time in the dryer, reducing electricity or gas use. Improvements have been made in dryer technology as well. Dryers now have temperature and moisture sensors, which automatically shut them off when your clothes are dry.


Heating & Cooling


As shown on the pie chart, heating and cooling account for almost 50 percent of the typical American home´s annual energy consumption. Because heating and cooling take such a big bite out of the energy pie, if you´re serious about conservation and efficiency, you´ll start by improving your home´s insulation and reducing air infiltration.

Wall, roof, and floor structures separate the inside of your house from outside, and are referred to as a building´s envelope. How this envelope is designed and constructed is the deciding factor in how good the thermal boundary is between you and the outdoors. Many of us use a thermos to transport liquids because its thermal boundary affords us the luxury of cold lemonade on hot days and hot chocolate on cold days. We want our home to be a thermos of sorts. By designing a building with a tight, well-insulated envelope, you will minimize the energy consumed to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

Sealing draft-prone areas, the points at which dissimilar building materials converge or the building envelope is penetrated, reduces uncontrolled air infiltration. Combine this with increased insulation and you can reduce the amount of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning needed to sustain a comfortable household temperature throughout the year. This translates directly into greatly reduced heating and cooling costs, and less environmental pollution.

Passive Plans


If you´re building a new home, seriously consider a passive solar building design-it´s an inherently superior way to both heat and cool your home. Passive solar houses balance a carefully calculated amount of glazing (windows) with heat absorbing thermal mass (concrete slabs or other masonry material) located on walls and floors in the direct vicinity of the southern exposed windows. Properly sized window overhangs block the high summer sun and prevent the building from overheating, while allowing the low winter sun to enter and warm the space. Another key to passive solar design is to have minimal window area on the north, east, and west sides of the house, to minimize heat loss during cold months and heat gain during the hot months.

Renewable Energy Options


There is no cookie-cutter solution for what type of renewable energy system will be most effective and economical in any given application. Many factors must be balanced to develop a good design, including proper siting, environmental resources, financial incentives, social considerations, and environmental effects. Here is some real-world advice concerning each of the major technologies.

Solar Hot Water


Solar thermal systems include a rather large category of energy collection and distribution devices for pool heating, domestic water heating, and space heating via radiant floor heating or water-to-air heat exchangers. You should consider all these options during the design phase of your project.

Installing a solar domestic hot water (SDHW) system is one of the best investments homeowners can make to reduce their electric or natural gas water heating bills, with typical financial paybacks at less than eight years. Depending on the size of the system you install, your local climate, and your hot water use, SDHW systems can cut your water heating bills by 40 to 80 percent. Systems have been designed for all types of applications. Whether you live in the farthest reaches of Alaska, in cloudy Seattle, or by the beach in Jamaica—an SDHW system can work for you.

Solar Electricity


The use of residential solar-electric systems began decades ago in rural locations where utility electricity was not available. While the number of off-grid PV systems continues to grow, grid-tied PV systems are an increasingly popular urban and suburban option for generating clean, sustainable electricity. Not to be confused with solar heating (which uses the sun´s heat to warm air or water), PV modules use photons in sunlight to excite electrons and generate electricity. PVs have no moving parts, are virtually indestructible, and typically carry a 25-year warranty.

You´ll face a major choice when planning a grid-tied PV system (and increasingly with wind and microhydro systems)—will you have batteries or not? If your primary motivation is environmental, a batteryless grid-tied system is probably the best choice. Batteryless systems are simple, economical, maintenance free, and highly efficient. If your home experiences frequent or extended utility outages that are an inconvenience to you and your family, then you may want to consider a system with battery backup.

Wind Electricity


Wind energy can be quite economical if your site has an adequate wind resource. Optimal, consistent wind resources are not located near buildings or down among the trees. Rather, they are found at least 30 feet above all nearby obstructions. Tapping wind energy involves tall towers, which need to be engineered specifically for the turbine you are installing. Wind turbines come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with many different specifications.

Microhydro Electricity


If you have a stream running through your property that drops along its course, tapping its energy potential may be economical. With microhydro, as with all renewable energy technologies, you must weigh the economics at each site based on the resources at hand. Opportunities for installing a microhydro system are often few and far between, but if your stream has significant water flow or a large vertical drop (head), you´re in luck. Even streams that only flow seasonally can be good candidates for generating electricity. Unlike PV or wind systems, hydro systems generate electricity continuously, as long as the water is flowing, and will typically be the most cost-effective renewable energy approach.

The Big Picture


Energy efficiency is always the most affordable and environmentally sound place to start when approaching renewable energy. By doing something as simple as swapping out incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents, you can decrease the number of PV modules needed to power your lighting by up to 75 percent. This principle applies to all choices you make as you use energy. Focusing on the demand side first will always be your best bet.

Think through your renewable energy choices carefully, evaluating where best to spend your money. Look at your energy appetite and needs, your site, and the resources available to you. As you move towards less and less reliance on nonrenewable energy, you´ll be gaining some independence from the utility companies, reducing your monthly bills, and minimizing the impact our energy use has on the environment

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Getting Off-The-Grid


Explore alternative energy options for your home.

One of the major themes of this site will be on how to reduce one's dependence on the "grid" by substituting alternative renewable sources of energy. Some people have even managed to become net energy producers who sell energy back to their local utility company.

Alt Energy Tax Credits

Tax Credits For Energy-Efficiency Home Improvements, Hybrid Vehicles.

A new site operated by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Alliance to Save Energy will help consumers reduce their federal income taxes in 2006 and 2007 by making their homes more energy efficient and purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles. The site covers provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and is provided as part of the DOE/Alliance Powerful $avings campaign to help consumers reduce their energy bills and the nation lower its overall energy use.

The Internal Revenue Service has not yet issued specific guidance for consumers on how to claim the income tax credits, but in the meantime the web pages offer comprehensive information, based on the new energy law, to help consumers save money on their energy bills and their federal income taxes. The web pages will be updated on a continuing basis as the IRS makes new details available.

Under the new energy law, consumers can save up to $500 in taxes in 2006 and 2007 for specific energy-efficiency upgrades to existing homes. In addition, consumers – and businesses – can save up to $3,400 on energy-efficient hybrid-electric or diesel vehicles purchased.

The Powerful savings campaign provides tips for lowering energy bills at home and on the road. Consumers also can find a wealth of energy- and money-saving tips in DOE’s free Energy Savers booklet , which is available in both English and Spanish versions.

Solar Modules for Small Electronics


These devices are designed to recharge laptop computers and small gadgets such cell phones, GPSs, camp lights and other modest-power gear in remote sites

Portable Solar Products


For less money than you think, you can have dependable solar power at your remote cabin or vacation camp. Our kits provide everything you need to produce, regulate and store DC power safely. Real Goods has over 26 years of experience designing solar systems, so we've done the hard work for you.



Windpower: Will it work in your location?


We generally advise that a good, year-round wind turbine site isn't a place that you'd want to live. It takes average wind speeds of 8 to 9 mph and up, to make a really good site. That's honestly more wind than most folks are comfortable living with. But this is where the beauty of hybrid systems comes in. Many, very happily livable sites do produce 8 mph and over during certain times of the year, or when storms are passing through.

Tower height and location also make a big difference. Wind speeds average 50% to 60% higher at 100 feet compared to ground level (see chart in the wind section). Wind systems these days are almost always designed as wind/solar hybrids for year-round reliability.

The only common exceptions are systems designed for utility intertie; they feed excess power back into the utility, and turn the meter backwards.

Wind maps can provide a glimpse into the wind patterns in your region. However, before investing in a wind turbine it's best to take actual measurement at your site.

USA Wind Maps

Wind Meters


First, find out if your location has sufficient wind.

Considering the substantial nature of a windpower turbine it makes sense to first confirm that sufficient wind is present throughout most the year.

NRG WindWatcher. The next generation of wind loggers. Collects and records wind speed and power; calculates average speed and average power density for accurate power predictions; delivers monthly averages from constant 2-second data samples; and saves data at the end of each month. Runs one-year on a single D-cell battery. Includes anemometer with weather boot, stub mast, 100' of sensor wire, ground wire, battery and WindWatcher with surface mounting box. 4.7' square. Designed for indoor or weather-protected mounting.

Will track wind direction and deliver monthly average with optional direction vane. Includes small separate mounting mast and 100' sensor wire.

Wind Turbines


Affordable wind power turbines for the home and cabin.

Please note that all of these turbines require a mounting system. The higher the turbine is positioned the better it will perform. However, please check with your local county or city government regarding any maximum height restrictions for these towers before purchasing. Towers are sold separately.

But this is where the beauty of hybrid systems comes in. Many, very happily livable sites do produce 8 mph and over during certain times of the year, or when storms are passing through. Tower height and location also make a big difference. Wind speeds average 50% to 60% higher at 100 feet compared to ground level (see chart in the wind section). Wind systems these days are almost always designed as wind/solar hybrids for year-round reliability. The only common exceptions are systems designed for utility inter-tie; they feed excess power back into the utility, and turn the meter backwards.

The third generation of North America's most popular turbine Southwest Windpower has introduced their third generation of the Air turbine series, and things just keep getting better for this simple attractive wind generator. Proven features from previous models include a sleek non-corrosive cast aluminum alloy body, three flexible carbon-reinforced blades, a neodymium permanent magnet alternator, and built-in regulation. What's improved is noise control and charge control. The sophisticated new microprocessor-based speed and charge control delivers better battery charging by optimizing the alternator output at all points of the power curve, it won't overcharge smaller battery packs as the previous generation tended to, and it eliminates the blade "flutter" that was a noise problem at high wind speeds by actually controlling and limiting the blade speed. USA



Article from:


You've been trying to eat more organic foods, both to decrease the amount of pesticides you and your family consume, and to help protect the environment from overloading with toxic chemicals. But organics can get a bit expensive, we know. Luckily, there's a way to grow your own delicious, fresh produce, while having fun and learning at the same time: organic gardening!

Don't know where to start? It is possible to hire someone to install and maintain a beautiful organic garden for you. But most of us can roll up our sleeves with a surprisingly small amount of effort. Remember, you can start small, even with just a single plant or two. Don't worry if things aren't perfect right away.

Organic gardening means you won't be using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, but that doesn't mean your plants are left to fend for themselves. There are an array of tools you can use to bolster plant health and ward off pests. Organic gardening also isn't just about what you don't do, it's about trying to foster a more holistic, natural ecosystem. Read on for specific tips, taken from The Daily Green's expert garden blogger, Leslie Land, her New York Times book 1000 Gardening Questions & Answers and other sources.

STEP 1: Preparing the Soil


In order to get the best results with your new organic garden, you'll want to make sure the soil is properly conditioned. You have to eat, and so do plants, so make sure your veggies get lots of fresh nutrients. Good healthy soil helps build up strong, productive plants. Chemical soil treatments can not only seep into your food, but they can also harm the beneficial bacteria, worms and other microbes in the soil.

The best way to gauge the quality of your soil is to get it tested. You can get a home testing kit, or better, send a sample to your local agricultural extension office. For a modest fee you'll get a complete breakdown of pH and nutrient levels, as well as treatment recommendations (be sure to tell them you're going organic). That way you can tailor your gardening program. Typically, it's best to test in the fall, and apply any organic nutrients before winter.

Even if you don't have time for testing, you'll want to make sure your soil has plenty of humus -- the organic matter, not the similarly named Mediterranean spread. According to 1000 Gardening Questions & Answers, you'll want to mix in compost, leaf and grass clippings and manure. Manure should be composted, unless you aren't going to harvest or plant anything for two months after application. Preferably, get your manure from local livestock that have been organically and humanely raised -- and never use manure from animals that eat meat.

STEP 2: How to Make Good Compost


All gardens benefit from compost -- and preferably you can make your own on site. Hey, it's free! Compost feeds plants, helps conserve water, cuts down on weeds, and keeps food and yard waste out of landfills (where it produces methane), instead turning garbage into "black gold." Spread compost around plants, mix with potting soil, use to bolster struggling plants…it's hard to use too much!

According to Country Living, the best compost forms from the right ratio of nitrogen- and carbon-rich organic waste, mixed with soil, water and air. It might sound like complicated chemistry, but don't worry too much if you don't have time to make perfect compost. Even a minimally tended pile will still yield decent results.

    • To get started, measure out a space at least three feet square. Your compost heap can be a simple pile or contained within a custom pen or bin (some can be rotated, to improve results).

    • Add alternating layers of carbon (or brown) material -- leaves and garden trimmings -- and nitrogen (or green) material -- such as kitchen scraps and manure, with a thin layer of soil in between.

    • Top off the pile with four to six inches of soil. Turn the pile as new layers are added and water to keep (barely) moist, in order to foster microbe action. You should get good compost in as little as two months (longer if it's cold).

    • A properly maintained compost pile shouldn't smell. But if it does add more dry carbon material (leaves, straw, or sawdust) and turn it more frequently.

  • Even if you live in a city, you can do some composting under your counter with a tidy worm kit, or partner with a community garden.

STEP 3: Choose the Right Plants


It really pays to select plants that will thrive in your specific micro-conditions. As a general guide don't forget to check the USDA's Hardiness Zones (which have recently been updated by the National Arbor Day Foundation due to climate change). Choose plants that will be well adjusted to each spot, in terms of light, moisture, drainage and soil quality. Most gardens have gradations in these variables. The happier your plants are, the more resistant they'll be to attackers.

If you're buying seedlings, look for plants raised without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. A great place to look is at your local farmers' market, which may also have native plants and varieties well suited to your area. It's better to buy stocky seedlings with few, if any blooms yet, and with roots that don't look overcrowded.

Many things are best grown from seed, including sunflowers, annual poppies, evening-scented stock (Matthiola bicornis), coriander, dill, annual phlox (Phlox drummondii), larkspur, annual lupine, morning glories, sweet peas, squash and cucumbers.

STEP 4: Plant Crops in Wide Beds


Plants that you will be harvesting, such as vegetables or cutting flowers, should be grouped tightly in beds that you don't walk on (raised beds work great). Grouping reduces weeding and water waste, and helps you target compost and nutrients. Easier path maintenance helps lead to healthy soil. Ample space between rows helps promote air circulation, which repels fungal attacks.

Remember that seedlings won't always stay diminutive, and you do want to try to limit over shadowing. It's a good idea to thin crops based on nursery suggestions.

According to Leslie Land, if you have limited space and time, and want the highest returns of fresh organic produce, these plants are typically winners:

    • Indeterminate Tomatoes. So named because the vines keep getting bigger and producing new fruit until they are felled by frost.

    • Non-Hybrid (Old-Fashioned) Pole Beans. They keep growing and producing 'til frost -- assuming you keep them picked.

    • Zucchini. Everything they say about avalanches of zucchini is true, especially of hybrid varieties.

    • Swiss Chard. You can keep breaking off outer leaves for months, and every picking will be tender as long as plants get enough water.

  • Tall Snow Peas and Sugarsnaps. They grow readily and produce delicious rewards.

STEP 5: Proper Watering


The best time to water plants is usually in the morning. Why? Mornings tend to be cool and without strong winds, so the amount of water lost to evaporation is reduced. If you water in the evening plants stay damp over night, making them more likely to be damaged by fungal and bacterial diseases.

Ideally, you want to water the roots, not the greenery, which is easily damaged. A drip or soak system can work great, or just carefully water the bases of plants by hand.

Most experts recommend substantial, infrequent watering for established plants, typically a total of about one inch of water per week (including rain). One or two applications a week encourages deeper rooting, which promotes stronger plants. To avoid shocking tender greenery, try to use water at or near air temperature (collected rainwater is best).

With population growth and climate change putting increasing pressure on our precious freshwater supplies, it is becoming more important than ever to save water.

STEP 6: Weeding


Ah weeding. Even if you live in the Biosphere, you'll still get weeds, since their tiny seeds are pervasive. Pulling weeds by hand may sound like hard work -- and it can be -- but it also can be good exercise, and gets you outside in the fresh air. You don't want to pour toxic chemicals on your food, or where your children and pets play, right?

Reduce the number of weeds you have to contend with by applying mulch (which also helps protect the soil). According to Leslie Land, organic mulch that will rot down into the soil is almost always preferable to landscape fabric, although burlap and other materials can work in a pinch. Straw is cheap but doesn't last long. Wood chips are nice, but can get pricey. Many people opt to use lawn clippings, although it should be noted that because they are high in nitrogen, clippings should only be used on plants that need a lot of the nutrient, such as squash and lettuce.

If you get tired of weeding or aren't able to bend over, consider hiring some neighborhood kids. It's a good way to get to know others in your community. Remember too that raised beds can be made wheelchair accessible, and others can take advantage of wheeled stools, arthritis-friendly gardening tools and other equipment.

STEP 7: Protect Plants WITHOUT Toxic Pesticides


If your plants are being assaulted by pests, it may be a sign of other problems, so the first thing you should do is make sure they are getting enough light, nutrients and moisture. Also remember that a diverse garden helps prevent pests, by limiting the amount of one type of plant offered up to enemies, and boosting biodiversity.

It's a good thing to foster natural predators in your garden, such as frogs, toads, lizards, birds, and even bats. Beneficial insects can be your best friends, especially lady bugs (many nurseries even sell cans of them, though it's true there's a high probability they won't stick around). Leave a small source of water out to attract friendly predators. It's also a good idea to grow plants with small blossoms, such as sweet alyssum and dill, which attract predatory insects. Nets and row covers can also work.

It may sound surprising, but homeowners use more pesticides on their lawns and gardens than farmers do, acre for acre, according to EPA data. But there are organic alternatives that are much safer for you and our environment. Find out what problem you have (an agricultural extension service can help), then look for alternatives.

Organic weapons include Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring bacteria that disrupts the digestion of caterpillars and other leaf-eaters. You can also use horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps and garlic and/or hot pepper sprays.

STEP 8: Harvesting


Don't forget to harvest the fruits of your labor! Fresh organic produce also makes great gifts, educating your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Generally, the more you harvest, the more your plants will produce for you.

During peak harvest season, you'll likely find that it's best to check your garden every day. Got herbs? If you use them fresh pick them right before you need them. But if you'll be drying and storing them, it's best to wait until just before they flower, since they'll have the most flavor. Gather all herbs except basil in mid morning, shortly after dew has dried. Harvest basil in the late afternoon, since it will last longer after some time in the sun. It's best not to wash herbs before you dry or use them, since that can leach flaor (extra incentive for growing organic!).

When harvesting leafy greens pick sporadically from the entire crop, a little from each plant. For broccoli, wait until the central head is as large as it will get, before sending off buds for flowering. Cut it off right above the leaf node, and you'll likely get better production from the rest of the plant. In general, it's best to cut produce off with a sharp knife or scissors, versus ripping with your fingers, which can cause more damage to plant tissue.

If you get too much bounty, remember you can also freeze, store some types of produce in a root cellar, or take up canning. Enjoy!

STEP 9: Clean Up


If you have sick plants to remove, either during the season or at the end of the year, make sure you pull up the entire organism. Don't forget to rake up underneath, since diseased leaves can harbor problems for a long time. Put all infected material deep in the woods, in the ground at least a foot deep, or on the bonfire.

Most healthy or expired plants can actually be left in place over winter. You'll provide some food and habitat for birds and other wildlife, and plant cover can help protect your soil from eroding. It's better to chop off annuals then yank them out, because that way you'll leave soil intact, and help prevent weeds from gaining a foothold.

By David Biello:


Bisphenol A (BPA) is a ubiquitous compound in plastics. First synthesized in 1891, the chemical has become a key building block of plastics from polycarbonate to polyester; in the U.S. alone more than 2.3 billion pounds (1.04 million metric tons) of the stuff is manufactured annually.

Since at least 1936 it has been known that BPA mimics estrogens, binding to the same receptors throughout the human body as natural female hormones. And tests have shown that the chemical can promote human breast cancer cell growth as well as decrease sperm count in rats, among other effects. These findings have raised questions about the potential health risks of BPA, especially in the wake of hosts of studies showing that it leaches from plastics and resins when they are exposed to hard use or high temperatures (as in microwaves or dishwashers).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found traces of BPA in nearly all of the urine samples it collected in 2004 as part of an effort to gauge the prevalence of various chemicals in the human body. It appeared at levels ranging from 33 to 80 nanograms (a nanogram is one billionth of a gram) per kilogram of body weight in any given day, levels 1,000 times lower than the 50 micrograms (one millionth of a gram) per kilogram of bodyweight per day considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Union's (E.U.) European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Studies suggest that BPA does not linger in the body for more than a few days because, once ingested, it is broken down into glucuronide, a waste product that is easily excreted. Yet, the CDC found glucuronide in most urine samples, suggesting constant exposure to it. "There is low-level exposure but regular low-level exposure," says chemist Steven Hentges, executive director of the polycarbonate / BPA global group of the American Chemistry Council. "It presumably is in our diet."

BPA is routinely used to line cans to prevent corrosion and food contamination; it also makes plastic cups and baby and other bottles transparent and shatterproof. When the polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins made from the chemical are exposed to hot liquids, BPA leaches out 55 times faster than it does under normal conditions, according to a new study by Scott Belcher, an endocrine biologist at the University of Cincinnati. "When we added boiling water [to bottles made from polycarbonate] and allowed it to cool, the rate [of leakage] was greatly increased," he says, to a level as high as 32 nanograms per hour.

A recent report in the journal Reproductive Toxicology found that humans must be exposed to levels of BPA at least 10 times what the EPA has deemed safe because of the amount of the chemical detected in tissue and blood samples. "If, as some evidence indicates, humans metabolize BPA more rapidly than rodents," wrote study author Laura Vandenberg, a developmental biologist at Tufts University in Boston, "then human daily exposure would have to be even higher to be sufficient to produce the levels observed in human serum."

The CDC data shows that 93 percent of 2,157 people between the ages of six and 85 tested had detectable levels of BPA's by-product in their urine. "Children had higher levels than adolescents and adolescents had higher levels than adults," says endocrinologist Retha Newbold of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, who found that BPA impairs fertility in female mice. "In animals, BPA can cause permanent effects after very short periods of exposure. It doesn't have to remain in the body to have an effect."

But experts are split on the potential health hazards to humans. The Food and Drug Administration has approved its use and the EPA does not consider it cause for concern. One U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) panel agreed, but another team of government scientists last year found that the amount of BPA present in humans exceeds levels that have caused ill effects in animals. They also found that adults' ability to tolerate it does not preclude damaging effects in infants and children.

"It is the unborn baby and children that investigators are most worried about," Newbold says, noting that BPA was linked to increased breast and prostate cancer occurrences, altered menstrual cycles and diabetes in lab mice that were still developing.

Fred vom Saal, a reproductive biologist at the University of Missouri–Columbia, warns that babies likely face the "highest exposure" in human populations, because both baby bottles and infant formula cans likely leach BPA. "In animal studies, the levels that cause harm happen at 10 times below what is common in the U.S." says vom Saal, who also headed the NIH panel that concluded the chemical may pose risks to humans.

Amid growing concern, Rep. John Dingell (D–Mich.) chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has launched an investigation into BPA, sending letters last month to the FDA and seven manufacturers of infant products sold in the U.S. requesting information on any BPA safety tests as well as specific levels in the baby goods. The companies that make Similac, Earth's Best and Good Start have already responded, confirming that they coat the inside of their cans with BPA but that analyses did not detect it in the contents. They also emphasize that FDA has approved BPA for such use.

"Based on the studies reviewed by FDA, adverse effects occur in animals only at levels of BPA that are far higher orders of magnitude than those to which infants or adults are exposed," says FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Kwisnek. "Therefore, FDA sees no reason to ban or otherwise restrict the uses now authorized at this time."

FDA first approved BPA as a food container in 1963 because no ill effects from its use had been shown. When Congress passed a law—the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976—mandating that the EPA conduct or review safety studies on new chemicals before giving them the nod, compounds like BPA were already on the market. Therefore, they were not subject to the new rules nor required to undergo additional testing unless specific concerns had been raised (such as in the case of PCBs). "The science that exists today supports the safety of BPA," ACC's Hentges says, based largely on research his organization has funded.

But other studies since 1976 have shown that small doses (less than one part per billion) of estrogenlike chemicals, such as BPA, may be damaging. "In fetal mouse prostate you can stimulate receptors with estradiol at about two tenths of a part per trillion, and with BPA at a thousand times higher," vom Saal says. "That's still 10 times lower than what a six-year-old has." In other words, children six years of age were found to have higher levels of BPA's by-product glucuronide in their urine than did mice dosed with the chemical that later developed cancer and other health issues.

Further complicating the issue is the stew of other estrogen-mimicking chemicals to which humans are routinely exposed, from soy to antibacterial ingredients in some soaps. The effects of such chemical mixtures are not known but scientists say they may serve to enhance the ill effects of one another. "The assumption that natural estrogens are somehow immediately good for you and these chemicals are immediately bad," Belcher says, "is probably not a reasonable assumption to make."

The chemical industry argues that unless BPA is proved to have ill effects it should continue to be manufactured and used, because it is cheap, lightweight, shatterproof and offers other features that are hard to match. "There is no alternative for either of those materials [polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins] that would simply drop in where those materials are used,"Hentges says.

Not so, says vom Saal, who notes that there are plenty of other materials, such as polyethylene and polypropylene plastics, that would be fine substitutes in at least some applications. "There are a whole variety of different kinds of plastic materials and glass," he says. "They are all more stable than polycarbonate."

Concern over BPA is not confined only to the U.S. Japanese manufacturers began to use natural resin instead of BPA to line cans in 1997 after Japanese scientists showed that it was leaching out of baby bottles. A subsequent study there that measured levels in urine in 1999 found that they had dropped significantly.

A new E.U. law (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances, or REACH), which took effect last year, requires that chemicals, such as BPA, be proved safe. Currently, though, it continues to be used in Europe; the EFSA last year found no reason for alarm based on rodent studies. European scientists cited multigenerational rat studies as reassuring and noted that mouse studies may be flawed because the tiny rodent is more susceptible to estrogens.

For now, U.S. scientists with concerns about BPA recommend that anyone sharing those worries avoid using products made from it: Polycarbonate plastic is clear or colored and typically marked with a number 7 on the bottom, and canned foods such as soups can be purchased in cardboard cartons instead.

If canned goods or clear plastic bottles are a must, such containers should never be microwaved, used to store heated liquids or foods, or washed in hot water (either by hand or in much hotter dishwashers). "These are fantastic products and they work well … [but] based on my knowledge of the scientific data, there is reason for caution," Belcher says. "I have made a decision for myself not to use them."

Choose your water Bottles


Article from:

Choose your water bottles very carefully in order to prevent chemicals in the plastic from leaching into your water.

Plastic water bottles are very convenient for carting water around when we are on the go, as they don't break if we drop them. However, it is worth paying attention to the type of plastic your water bottle is made of, to ensure that the chemicals in the plastic do not leach into the water. If you taste plastic, you are drinking it, so get yourself another bottle.

To be certain that you are choosing a bottle that does not leach, check the recycling symbol on your bottle. If it is a #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), or a #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or a #5 PP (polypropylene), your bottle is fine. The type of plastic bottle in which water is usually sold is usually a #1, and is only recommended for one time use. Do not refill it. Better to use a reusable water bottle, and fill it with your own filtered water from home and keep these single-use bottles out of the landfill.

Unfortunately, those fabulous colourful hard plastic lexan bottles made with polycarbonate plastics and identified by the #7 recycling symbol, may leach BPA. Bisphenol A is a xenoestrogen, a known endocrine disruptor, meaning it disturbs the hormonal messaging in our bodies. Synthetic xenoestrogens are linked to breast cancer and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are particularly devastating to babies and young children. BPA has even been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. For more of the science on the effects of BPA on our endocrine system etc. see these studies: Environmental Health Perspectives Journal. Nalgene, the company that manufactures the lexan water bottles also makes #2 HDPE bottles in the same sizes and shapes, so we have a viable alternative. Order one at Nalgene.

Unfortunately, most plastic baby bottles and drinking cups are made with plastics containing Bisphenol A. In 2006 Europe banned all products made for children under age 3 containing BPA, and as of Dec. 2006 the city of San Franscisco followed suit. In March 2007 a billion-dollar class action suit was commenced against Gerber, Playtex, Evenflo, Avent, and Dr. Brown's in Los Angeles superior court for harm done to babies caused by drinking out of baby bottles and sippy cups containing BPA. So, to be certain that your baby is not exposed, use glass bottles. Check the recycling numbers on all your plastic food containers as well, and gradually move to storing all food in glass or ceramic.

Store water in glass, and out of direct sunlight.

A Few Facts about Plastic Bottles


    • It takes 7 liters of water to make a 1 liter bottle for water. (Since over a billion people in the world have no access to clean water – that’s just mind-boggling dumb.)

    • The 29 billion plastic bottles used annually in US requires more than 17 million barrels of oil a year. Enough to fuel more than a million cars for a year.

    • Plastic waste in landfills takes between 400 and 1,000 years to degrade. And about 30 million water bottles are thrown away every day by Americans alone.

    • There is an island of plastic trash floating in the Pacific Ocean that is twice the size of Texas. (And the sun is causing the chemicals to leach into the water and enter our sushi food chain.)

    • We spend more money on bottled water (that has almost no federal regulatory oversight to test its cleanliness and purity, unlike municipal water) than it would take to ensure that the entire planet drinks clean water.

  • If you spend $1.00 for the convenience of a small plastic bottle of water (16.9 ounces), then you’re spending $7.57 on one gallon of water that you can get from your tap for pretty much free.

Meaning...if you don’t buy or drink bottled water on March 22nd, you will not:

  1. Do bad things to the planet and the population
  2. Unnecessarily spend money

Use Glass Bottles, Compostable Green Plastic Cups,
and Compostable Silverware


Here are various links to for glass bottles and biodegradable corn plastic cups.

Article from

A few facts about plastic bags:

  • A person uses a plastic carrier bag on average for only 12 minutes.
  • A plastic bag can take between 500 to 1000 years to break down in the environment.
  • In the UK at least 200 million plastic bags end up as litter on our beaches, streets and parks ever year.
  • When a plastic bag enters the ocean it becomes a harmful piece of litter. Many marine animals mistake plastic bags for food and swallow them, with painful and often fatal consequences.

Morgan Hoesterey Message in the Waves


The most important thing to understand is there is no such thing as "away" when it comes to plastics. When people say "Oh just throw it away", where precisely is "away"?

Just because it's no longer in our home, in our work place or in our car does not mean its "away" it just means we no longer have to view on a daily basis and its somewhere else on this planet.

Out of sight out of mind, and not our problem!

Well remember we've only had plastic since the 1950's and it is anticipated that it lasts for at least 400 years, a lot of scientists now estimate that age at more like 1000.(MCS) New Scientist) (UNEP)

Meaning it's all still here, and this amount is growing at an alarming rate.

First off for the time-poor amongst you there are two short very informative films to watch. They are only a few minutes long, and all I hope is that before you leave this page you can at least just take a look at the first one.

Patagonia Oceans As Wilderness - Synthetic Seas

Plastic Planet: The Curse of the Carrier Bag

Plastic production uses 8% of all the world's oil production. (waste online) At the current rate the world produces 200 million tons of plastic a year. Less the 3.5% is recycled. (Algalita) (Greenpeace Ocean defenders) Or in other words, 96 % of all the worlds plastic is not recycled. (Greenpace ocean defenders) (Algalita)

The world plastic production is increasing at 3.5% per year. This means every twenty years the amount of plastic we produce doubles. ( (eurotradeinfo)

The world produces over 200 million tonnes plastic annually. Around half of this is used for disposable items of packaging that are discarded within a year. This debris is accumulating in landfill and the problem is growing. (Thompson).

Excess packaging is not just bad for the environment its bad for your pocket. In studies carried out in 2007 it has been established that excess packaging costs the average UK family about GBP470 a year. ( (BBCNews). The UK 2.8 million tonnes of plastic waste in the UK each year, this figure is rising by 2% each year.(

The dawn of the plastic era was in 1950s. This was when we first started to use plastic for consumer goods on a mass scale.

What a lot of people don't know is plastics do not biodegrade, they photo degrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil, waterways, oceans and entering the food web when ingested by animals.

Scientists estimate each plastic item could last in the environment anywhere between 400 to 1000 years.(New Scientist) (UNEP) In short, think of it this way since the 1950's almost every piece of plastic that we have ever made, used and thrown away is still here on this planet in one form or another, whether its in our homes, in landfill or in the environment; and it will be here for centuries to come.

About Plasticizers

Plasticizers are a group of chemicals that are added to plastic resins during the manufacturing process. As a general rule plasticizers soften the final plastic product increasing its flexibility. However because these plasticizers are an additive and not actually part of the plastics molecular structure its been established that traces of these chemicals can leach out when they come into contact with a product - for example food or drink.

It has also been established that some of these plasticizers are now known to be carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. ( (ecologycenter) (sciencelinks) Take PVC for instance, which is commonly used to package foods and liquids, ubiquitous in children's toys and teethers.

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recognized the chemical used to make PVC, vinyl chloride, is a known human carcinogen. However the European Union has only banned the use of DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) in PVC, the most widely used plasticizer in PVC children's toys. (Environmental Research Foundation)

Other plasticizers such bisphenol A (BPA) - a known hormone disrupter that when released into food and liquid acts like oestrogen - are still in use, but now being fazed out in the UK.

About four-fifths of all marine litter comes from land, swept by wind or washed by rain off highways and city streets, down streams and rivers, and out to sea. Also some is intentionally fly-tipped off cliffs and dumped off beaches once again going into the sea. (Only 20% comes from boats, it's a common misplaced blame to assume it's all from boats) (Algalita) (UNEP)

Nearly 90% of floating marine litter is plastic. Since the dawn of the plastic era it is estimate that 5% of all the world's post production plastic has entered the world's oceans. That is just over 100 million tons of plastic. (Algalita) (Greenpeace Ocean Defenders)

In June 2006 United Nations Environmental Programme report estimated that there are an average of 46,000 pieces of plastic debris floating on or near the surface of every square mile of ocean. However in the most concentrated areas this figure was reported to be at over 1 million pieces. (UNEP)

Worldwide, at least 143 marine species are known to have become entangled in marine debris (including almost all of the world's species of sea turtles) and at least 177 marine species (including 95% of all the worlds sea birds) have eaten plastic litter. ( 2004) (seabirds ref, Alterra/Save the North Sea/North Pacific University of Victoria BC,Canada)

Its estimated that over 10's of thousands of seabirds choke or get tangled in plastic debris (including domestic waste and disused fishing gear) and about 100,000 seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins, other marine mammals and sea turtles suffer the same fate.

UK beaches have on average 2000 pieces of litter for every kilometer. (MCS) However this average is only given to larger items. The number of plastic particles (small plastic pieces) on a beach in just one square foot can range from hundreds to thousands in some of the worst polluted area's. (Thompson) (Algalita)

Most importantly: People often ask, "What is the most concerning form of plastic marine debris?

Is it discarded fishing nets (ghost nets), plastic bags, or six-pack rings?"

The truth is it's everything plastic in the ocean. All plastic breaks down into particles. It does not dissolve; it just breaks into tiny pieces and stays there. At this size it is small enough to be ingested by every single organism in the world's oceans - animals as small as krill and salps (plankton feeders) right up to the great Blue Whale.

These particles known as oceanic microplastics are now so prolific in the oceans that they out-weigh plankton. In some large areas it is at a ratio of 30 to 1 (so 30 times more plastic than plankton) and the problem is growing fast.(Algalita) (Greenpeace Ocean Defenders) Oceanic microplastics mix with the plankton, and it's now known that a very heigh percentage of the worlds plankton feeders mistakenly inject it. Scientists now nickname vast surface areas of the world's oceans as "Plastic soup".

So in short, all throwaway plastic is a real threat and causing huge damage to the marine environment, it's not just plastic bags.

At first sight, you'd be forgiven for thinking this photo on the left was just a pretty mosaic. It's actually the stomach contents of one dead laysan albatross chick. Note the toothbrush in the centre right of frame, this gives you an idea of the scale. To give an example of how long plastic lasts in the ocean. In 2001 a piece of plastic found in an albatross stomach bore a serial number that was traced to a World War II seaplane shot down in 1944 (US Fish & Wildlife)

Latest Findings on the usual suspects, and hopefully by now you can see that plastic bags are just a tip of a much greater problem. One thing you will notice is it doesn't matter which beach in the world you walk along, when you find plastic marine debris all to often it's the same old usual suspects (objects).

The Ocean Conservancy has just published their report on debris collected on beaches around the USA. Never before in the United States have conservationists, scientists, and policy-makers had a comprehensive and accurate assessment of the types and sources of debris that are impacting the coastal areas. Ocean Conservancy released key findings from the National Marine Debris Monitoring Program, a five-year national study of trash in the ocean.

Ocean Conservancy's research was conducted under the direction of marine debris expert Seba Sheavly from 2001 to 2006 with the goal of setting a nationwide scientific baseline of the marine debris problem in the U.S. The findings of the report mirror the findings of debris in European marine waters. Plastic bags account for over ten percent of the debris found on US beaches. Plastic bottles account for 21% of all marine debris. Plastic straws are the most prolific debris item on US beaches amounting to 27.5% of all marine debris.

The Ocean Conservancy has just published their report on debris collected on beaches around the USA. Here is a basic table of their findings:

Ocean Conservancy also coordinated International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), which involves over 70 countries worldwide annually. The ICC provides a level balanced 'snapshot' of the amounts and sources of litter found on beaches around the world.

Plastic Particles and Toxins in the Ocean

Marine plastic works much like a sponge and collects other hydrophobic chemicals (these are chemicals that don't mix well with water) that have entered the marine environment through use and disposal over the years. The group name for these chemicals is POP's (persistent organic pollutants) chemicals that take decades to breakdown, such as chlordane, PCB, DDT, and DDE to name a few, but heavy metals such as mercury, zinc and lead are also known to attach themselves to marine plastic. (Tokyo University) (Algalita)

Many of these nasties ( that are used as pesticides, insecticides, fire-retardants and herbicides) have now been outright banned in several countries including the UK because they are dangerous human health hazards, however they are still prevalent in the marine environment.

Scientists now know that the persistent organic pollutants (POP's) that have arisen in the environment from sources can attach to the surface area of plastic in the marine environment.

Studies have shown that animals in the marine environment are ingesting increasing amounts of plastic. A major research priority is to establish whether, upon ingestion, these plastics might transfer chemicals to the food chain.

If this proves to be the case, we may have even more cause for concern as the process of bio-accumulation has the potential to increase the concentration of persistent pollutants along the food chain.

You may remember how the toxic effects of the pesticide DDT were so heavily felt by birds, like the peregrine falcon, at the top of the food chain. Well, it's worth noting that human beings are at the top of the marine chain.. (Thompson)

Once again if all this science talks of persistent organic pollutants in the marine environment is bit much to take in, then please listen to this radio interview from Dr Roger Payne and his team.

Plastic bags consumed this year:

That averages out somewhere between 290-300 plastic bags used per person per year in the UK (Parliament.UK) ( Or another way at looking at it is we could be using upto one million bags per minute. On average we use each plastic bag for approximately 12 -20 minutes before disposing.

Some reports estimate that plastic bags can take over 400 years to degrade. ( (BBC news) An estimated 17 billion plastic bags are given away annually by United Kingdom supermarkets-enough plastic to cover an area the size of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and west Yorkshire combined. Note: this estimate don't state all retraders only supermarkets. (Parliament.UK) ( an area the size of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and west Yorkshire combined. Note: this estimate don't state all retraders only supermarkets. (Parliament.UK) (

Most of them imported from Thailand, Malaysia and China. (So BBC news tell's us via the carrier bag consortium in the news report above) On average we only recycle 1 plastic bag in every 200 we use. ( Over the period 1994 - 2006, MCS Beachwatch litter surveys have recorded averages of between 29 - 46 bags per km surveyed. Since 1994 the average density of plastic bags found during Beachwatch has increased by 31.8% from 29.2 items/km to 38.5 items/km (MCS)

In 1995, high numbers of plastic bags (more than 70% of total litter) were reported in dredge samples from the continental shelf along the French and Spanish Atlantic Coast (Galgani et al, 1995). During a survey of floating marine debris conducted in the South East Pacific plastic bags far outnumbered other items at 47.6% of all items. (UNEP/GPA).

In the marine environment plastic bag litter is lethal, killing many species - including sea birds, whales, dolphins, seals, seal lions and turtles every year. (Planet Ark) (NSW.GOV.AU) Plastic bags can be mistaken for food and consumed by a wide range of marine species. Ingestion of litter such as plastic bags can cause physical damage and mechanical blockage of the oesophagus and digestive system, resulting in a false sensation of fullness or satiation, as the litter may remain in the stomach. This can lead to internal infections, starvation and death. (MCS) ( (

These bags are a particular hazard to species such as sea turtles, toothed whales and albatross that consume jellyfish or squid, as these prey species resemble plastic bags when floating in the water column. (MSC) (UNEP) (Albatross research from DLNR 2007)

Plastic bags have been recorded as a cause of entanglement in marine animals. Entanglement can restrict movement, leading to starvation, drowning or suffocation. (MSC) (UNEP) Once an animals dies from either entanglement or plastic ingestion, their bodies decompose and the plastic is released back into the environment where it can kill again. (MCS)(Planet Ark) (NOAA)

A Minke Whale washed up dead on the Normandy coast. Cause of death? - The animals' stomach was full of plastic bags, and throw-away plastic packaging. Some of the bags could be identified as coming from British high street shops.(MCS)

Notice on this page I've talked about the deaths of marine animals as estimates. Scientists and marine vets are in agreement that it is very hard to put an exact figure on how many animals die as a result of plastic pollution as they are only able to record the animals that wash ashore or strand. However what they do know is that beached animals make up only a tiny fraction of the animals that die out at sea. (OlryDLNR) (Brainard,NOAA) (Klavitter,USFWS)

Anyone born before the 1940's will belong to the very last generation to remember walking a beach and not seeing plastic marine debris. Anyone born after the 1950's and for at least the next 450 years into the future will have to put up with our generation's ever growing plastic marine pollution and the huge damage it's causing. (Moore) Now in my humble opinion I hardly think that is fair and I want to try to help limit that damage, I really hope you agree?

Take Action

How you can help?

If we are going to try to curb this pollution then we have to start with ourselves and the way we as individuals live our day to day lives. I know you've probably heard this all before but have a little faith and by just making the smallest changes you can make an impact and a difference. It's the old environmental mantra "be part of the solution, not the problem"

Be Plastic bag free and help your community become plastic bag free, here are the how to's, the FAQ's and a simple guide to follow.

If you live near the coast and want to get hands on, you can sign up to adopt and clean a local beach with our dear friends at the MCS (Marine Conservation Society).

While you're down on the beach why not take part in a global study. Learn about mermaid's tears (plastic pellets) and help an international team of scientists plot toxic ocean pollutants.

No one made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do so little." - Edmund Burke




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