Glastonbury Festival to ban all plastic bottles on site

As a teenager, I once got a free ticket to Glastonbury Festival by volunteering to work on the litter/recycling crews. Needless to say, cleaning up after 175,000 revelers—many of them drunk and/or otherwise under the influence—in a muddy field is challenging to say the least. Nevertheless, from composting toilets to serious solar power, Glastonbury has alway had a strong green streak.

Now it’s applying those values to its mountains of rubbish, taking a step beyond recycling by actually banning all plastic bottles from being brought on-site when the festival reopens in 2019. (2018 is a “fallow year” which gives the farmland an opportunity to recover.) According to reports in The Guardian and elsewhere, the relatively firm option of a ban comes on the heels of previous efforts which appealed more to festival goers own better natures—asking them to leave no trace, limit their litter, and not abandon their tents—all of which resulted in the longest clean up in the festival’s history.

The festival organizers themselves say somewhere around a million plastic bottles are used on site during a typical five day Glastonbury weekend—much of it, I suspect, in the form of West Country hard cider. So this is no small feat that the organization is attempting. But infrastructure has been put in place in previous years, including the installation of refill stations for water bottles, and the introduction of reusable stainless steel canisters which can be rented from the organizers.

Having experienced Glastonbury many, many times and seen how much stuff gets brought on site, I would say it’s unrealistic to expect that there’ll be no more plastic bottles anywhere on Worthy Farm—but that’s hardly the point. By sending this message, and by working with vendors, Glastonbury organizers are joining the likes of the BBC, Eurostar and even the Queen in moving the conversation beyond appeals to personal virtue, and into the realms of what we’ll accept as our cultural and societal norms.

And for that, I am very, very grateful.

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Celebrate Valentine’s Day by breaking up … with plastic

It’s time to end your toxic relationship with single-use plastic and find a new love for #CleanSeas!

Just in time for the glorious day of all things hearts and Cupid, the UN Environment #CleanSeas campaign has come out with a short film that takes a lighter look at the devastating mess of single-use plastic. With eight million tons of plastic finding its way into the oceans each year, breaking up never looked so good!

For more about the campaign and to take the #CleanSeas pledge, visit; for tips and advice, see related stories below.

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Queen Elizabeth hates single-use plastic too

I’m no royalist, but I’ve been delighted to see the UK’s Crown Estate get seriously into renewable energy. As the country’s largest landowner, it has played a major role in the dramatic shift to lower carbon electricity that’s occurred in Britain over the last decade or so.

Now the Royals are getting fired up on another environmental topic—The Telegraph reports that Her Royal Highness is declaring war on single use plastics. Of course, it’s hard to imagine Queen Elizabeth herself supping from anything other than the finest champagne flutes or fancy bone china, but much like with energy, the Royal estates are a massive operation where—like most institutions—single-use plastics have been utilized pretty much unchecked in recent times.

Now, among the measures being proposed are:

—Internal caterers will only be allowed to use china, glasses or recyclable paper cups
—Takeout food wrappers must be biodegradable or compostable
—Plastic straws will be phased out in public cafes, and banned outright in staff dining rooms

These are all welcome measures indeed, coming as they do on the heels of airports, ferry companies and restaurant chains in the UK all declaring anti-plastic initiatives. As is often the case, it’s felt for the longest time that any serious action on reducing plastic pollution was like trying to swim upstream but now, all of a sudden, the tide appears to be shifting.

And having the Royal Family weigh in not just with opinions, but firm and decisive action, will have both an immediate practical impact, not to mention a powerful symbolism that will no doubt further inspire action from others.

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Huge food company to eliminate food waste, halve plastic use

Obviously, cutting food waste is both a moral and environmental imperative. Still, when I read Paul Hawken’s Drawdown, I was surprised to see reducing food waste listed as the #3 solution to climate change, right after greener refrigerants and scaled up wind energy. Yet it continues to get considerably less attention than renewable energy or fancy electric trucks.

Things, however, might be changing. And just like the recent flurry of corporate commitments on single use plastics, we’re beginning to see similar efforts to cut back on wasted food too. The latest comes from Cranswick, one of the largest food companies in the UK and a specialist in fresh, frozen and deli meats as well as pastry products. According to Business Green, the company is promising to become a “zero food waste” company by 2030 at the latest.

But that’s not all, as part of a plan that Cranswick is calling “Second Nature”, the company is also promising to purchase 100% renewable energy starting next month, to halve its plastic use by 2025, and to also achieve 100% recyclable packaging by the same date. This is good stuff, and builds on energy efficiency efforts which have already seen a 20% reduction in energy consumption per tonne of product manufactured since 2008.

Specifically, it’s worth noting, a plan like this will have an out-sized impact because much of Cranswick’s products are meat- or animal-products based. And as Derek previously noted, meat waste is the worst waste because its production is so much more energy and resource intensive in the first place.

Now, I wonder if Cranswick is also down with efforts to promote more plant-centered diets too. They wouldn’t be the first meat-centric company to start looking at that possibility.

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Another danger for coral reefs: Plastic trash transports microorganisms that spread disease across the ocean floor

Image: Another danger for coral reefs: Plastic trash transports microorganisms that spread disease across the ocean floor

(Natural News)
The phrase “deep, blue sea” may slowly become a thing of the past, as more seas and oceans are being filled up with waste plastic. Its adverse effects have surely been felt by nearly all marine life, but a team of international researchers led by Cornell University has discovered one more unfortunate effect of plastic. They found out that plastic waste drifting in the ocean can adversely impact the corals it gets tangled with, as the material provides a favorable environment for microbial colonization.

The study, which was published in the journal Science, had researchers investigate 159 coral reefs in the Asia-Pacific region to determine how the plastic debris affects the coral, as well as the likelihood of disease of a coral tangled with plastic, visiting reefs from Indonesia, Australia, Myanmar, and Thailand.

The reason for this, the research team stated in their paper, is that there have been several studies of the impact of terrestrial pollutants in the ocean; however, the full effect of plastic waste in marine organisms has yet to be explored.

After surveying the reefs, the research team found that billions of plastic materials have been tangled in the reefs – with more spikey species getting tangled with more plastic materials. The amount of plastic in the sampled areas was estimated to be at least 11.1 billion items that are stuck in coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific. (Related: The plastic pollution problem is wide AND deep: Study finds sea animals from the deepest parts of the ocean, 7 miles down, have plastic in their stomachs.)

According to study lead author Joleah Lamb, plastic debris act as a “motorhome” for microbes.

“Plastics make ideal vessels for colonizing microscopic organisms that could trigger disease if they come into contact with corals,” she continued. “Plastic items – commonly made of polypropylene, such as bottle caps and toothbrushes – have been shown to become heavily inhabited by bacteria. This is associated with the globally devastating group of coral diseases known as white syndromes.”

If a plastic latches itself onto a coral, it becomes prone to disease. In particular, the study reported that once this happens, the likelihood of the coral to get a disease increases by 20 times.

This is because of the stress brought about by the plastic to the corals. In particular, it blocks the light source of the corals, leading to anoxic conditions which favor pathogen growth, as well as toxin release.

In addition, corals are physically injured when they come in contact with plastic debris. This leads to abrasion, which opens up the coral to pathogen invasion. When this happens, the immune system of the coral may be compromised, allowing pathogens such as Halofolliculina corallasia to infect it and cause complications such as skeletal eroding band disease.

The authors posited that if these conditions continue, the amount of plastic that will impact the marine environment will skyrocket to 15.7 billion items, which will ultimately affect corals the world over. When this happens, the effects will not only be felt by the tourism industry but by those in fishing and coastal protection as well – a combined net worth of $357 billion in goods and services provided.

Through this investigation, researchers opined that a decrease in the amount of plastic entering the ocean will be advantageous to coral reefs, especially as its chances of getting disease-associated mortality is reduced.

“Our work shows that plastic pollution is killing corals. Our goal is to focus less on measuring things dying and more on finding solutions,” concluded Drew Harvell, a senior author of the study. “This new work should drive policy toward reducing plastic pollution.”

Learn more about how plastics affect the environment, and what you can do to help solve this problem. Head over to today.

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Plastic pollution is devastating ocean ecosystems, turning them into “toxic repositories;” documentary spurs action

Image: Plastic pollution is devastating ocean ecosystems, turning them into “toxic repositories;” documentary spurs action

(Natural News)
Sir David Attenborough, an English veteran broadcaster and naturalist who recently made a documentary on plastic and its harmful effects on the environment, said that the Earth’s oceans are slowly becoming a toxic depository due to the evil deeds of the planet’s dwellers.

Describing one scene from the documentary, Attenborough said, “In it, as snowflakes settle on the ground, a baby albatross lies dead, its stomach pierced by a plastic toothpick fed to it by its own mother, having mistaken it for healthy food. Nearby lies plastic litter that other hungry chicks have regurgitated.”

Attenborough said plastic is a bane to the environmental movement, and that concrete action should be done to prevent its widespread use. “There are fragments of net so big they entangle the heads of fish, birds, turtles, and slowly strangle them. Other pieces of plastic are so small that they are mistaken for food and eaten, accumulating in fishes’ stomachs, leaving them undernourished.”

To render as evil something that is necessary to preservation, distribution, and storage over a multitude of products is problematic. To also wage war against something inanimate is reminiscent of other failed conflicts, the war against drugs, or the war against terrorism, for that matter.

According to Selwyn College at the University of Cambridge commonwealth scholar Dr. Binoy Kampmark, guilty consciences are powerful motivators, with the most guilt belonging to the affluent, such as Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May. “In the U.K. alone, the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls.”

Bright Blue, an independent liberal conservative think tank which is mostly pro-Tory, conducted a poll that showed that many who refused to vote for May’s party in the last general election thought that environmental initiatives are key to a campaign. The poll “shows that climate change is the second highest issue younger people want senior politicians to discuss more, second only to health, and actually the top issue for 18- to 28-year-olds”.

In getting on the bandwagon against plastic, May tried to convince critics that getting Britain out of the European Union would not mean that there would be a lowering of environmental standards. Her government, she told the audience at the London Wetland Centre, would “leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it”.

May then suggested a plan – albeit slow-moving – whose goal is to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste in the U.K. by 2042. “Plastic-free aisles” are going to be implemented in supermarkets, and taxes and charges on takeaway containers are being laid out. None of such measures need Parliamentary regulation, maintaining the old British approach of gradualism in action.

Companies such as Cincinnati, Ohio-based consumer goods corporation Procter & Gamble, which are the manufacturers of the Head & Shoulders shampoo, and others, have collaborated to make a recycled shampoo bottle using plastic found in beaches.

More on ocean plastic pollution

Eight percent of marine debris comes from land-based sources, such as litter, trash, and debris from construction, ports and marinas, commercial and industrial facilities, and trash blown out of garbage containers, landfills, and trucks. Ocean-based sources, such as discharges from ships and discarded fishing gear, make up the other 20 percent.

Food containers and packaging make up the highest component of the municipal solid waste stream (80 million tons or 31.7 percent). These items, coupled with plastic bags, also make up the largest component of marine debris (barring items less than five millimeters such as pre-production plastic pellets, polystyrene pieces, and fragments). (Related: The plastic pollution problem is wide AND deep: Study finds sea animals from the deepest parts of the ocean, 7 miles down, have plastic in their stomachs.)

For more stories regarding the status of water in all its forms, head on straight to

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Plastic pollution is threatening fish populations and the fishing industry in Central America

Image: Plastic pollution is threatening fish populations and the fishing industry in Central America

(Natural News)
Plastic pollution is posing a threat to fish populations and fishing industry in Central America as a fisherman discovered plastics and other discarded materials, such as bottle caps, bits of plastic, a mangle comb, and a cigarette lighter, in the stomach of a mahi-mahi or also known as dolphinfish.

The fisherman, who was on a trip in Costa Rica, took a video of himself cutting open the stomach of a mahi-mahi, which he thought was sick. The video was taken in early Dec. 2017, and raised concern from wildlife groups and environmentalists in Costa Rica. The video serves as evidence of the increasing pollution levels that may be a threat to fishing industries. (Related: The plastic pollution problem is wide AND deep: Study finds sea animals from the deepest parts of the ocean, 7 miles down, have plastic in their stomachs)

“This confirms that different marine animals confuse plastic with food. The plastic does not melt and can block their intestinal tract, and then they cannot feed — preventing them from consuming food, and starving [them to death],” Erick Ross, a marine scientist, told Newsflare, as cited by Lifezette.

Fish confuse plastics with food

In a study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, it was revealed that marine organisms confuse plastic with food. The study was carried out by a team of researchers from the University of California, Davis and the Aquarium of the Bay. In conducting the study, the research team presented schools of wild-caught anchovies with plastic debris acquired from the oceans, and with clean pieces of plastic that had never been in the ocean. The researchers compared their responses to the food and food odor presentations. Marine organisms may have thought that plastic debris in the oceans are food because these tiny plastics acquire a covering of biological material, such as algae, that imitates the smell of food.

The finding of the study revealed that the anchovies responded to the odors of the ocean debris similar to the way they reacted to the smell of the food they seek, with increased aggregation and reduced rheotaxis. This suggests that the chemical signature of plastic debris was enticing to fish. In addition, this shows that fish are eating the tiny pieces intentionally because they think of them as food, which makes it an additional threat of plastic in the ocean.

“When plastic floats at sea its surface gets colonised by algae within days or weeks, a process known as biofouling. Previous research has shown that this algae produces and emits DMS, an algal based compound that certain marine animals use to find food,” Matthew Savoca, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and lead author of the study, told The Guardian.

He further explained that the study indicates plastic may be “more deceptive to fish” than previously thought. This is because plastic both appears and smells like food, which makes it more difficult for animals, such as fish, to identify it as a non-edible item.

Plastic debris, whether microscopic or large visible pieces, continue to pollute the oceans. However, efforts by other countries only had little effect so far. Microbeads, which were widely used in cosmetics and other products, were banned in the U.S., the U.K., and other countries because they have been found to harm marine life and bring toxic chemicals into the food chain.

Read more stories about the impact of pollution on Earth’s ecology, visit


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Marine biologist wants to make plastic straws extinct on the Great Barrier Reef

Nicole Nash’s campaign urges tour operators and coastal resorts to ban straws completely in an effort to reduce plastic pollution.

A young marine biologist from Queensland, Australia, is working hard to make plastic straws extinct on the Great Barrier Reef. Nicole Nash recently launched a campaign called The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef to get tour boat operators, cruise ships, and coastal resorts to ban plastic straws completely.

Banning plastic straws is an easy solution to a serious problem. They are an unnecessary accessory to people’s drinks (except in the case of medical issues), but they have created an enormous problem. Australians use an estimated 10 million straws a day, and the U.S. statistics are even more horrifying — 500 million straws a day, which is enough to wrap around the circumference of the Earth 2.5 times daily!

Needless to say, eliminating them would go a long way to reducing plastic trash along the Great Barrier Reef. Currently, as Nash explains in the short promotional video below, 75 to 95 percent of marine debris found in and around the reef is plastic. This is harmful to the creatures that depend on the reef for survival, not to mention ugly.

The Cairns Post reports:

“Whales and sea turtles, among other animals, mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, and sea birds are attracted to colourful plastic fragments that they may feed to their young. With a false feeling of fullness they starve to death or die from internal injuries or blockages. When the animal decomposes the plastic in the guts is released and can kill again.”

The campaign has a straw-free pledge that business owners can sign. As of this past weekend, more than 30 tour operators had already signed up, which indicates that Nash’s campaign is resonating with many people.

Alternatives do exist, such as glass, stainless steel, bamboo, and paper straws, but even these are unnecessary. Nash recommends sticking to the campaign motto: “Sip, don’t suck.”

Once people quit straws, then it will be easier to start talking about other forms of disposable plastic that can, and should, be eliminated from our lives. Nash says:

“We want to start a conversation to get people thinking about what else they can do to reduce their single-use ­consumption.”

Watch the campaign video below:

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Tyrannical Law Will Throw Waiters in Jail Who Offer Customers Unsolicited Plastic Straws


In the land of the free, waiters and waitresses who offer their customers an unsolicited straw could soon be facing up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Seriously.

Thanks to the state of California, who has outlawed everything from plastic bags to bathhouses, lawmakers have proposed a bill to cut down pollution by using cops to punish the service industry for senselessly providing customers with straws without the customer demanding one.

Ian Calderon, the Democratic majority leader in California’s lower house, has introduced the bill which serves to create a police state inside restaurants.

According to the legislation, “This bill would prohibit a food facility, as specified, where food may be consumed on the premises from providing single-use plastic straws to consumers unless requested by the consumer. By creating a new crime and imposing additional enforcement duties on local health agencies, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.”

Those who violate this insane dictate would “be guilty of a misdemeanor with each offense punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $1,000, or by imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding 6 months, or by both.”

Nothing Orwellian to see here.

“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans,” Calderon explained in a press release.

Instead of incentivizing the use of paper straws or other options, the state—which owes its existence to the monopoly it holds on the initiation of force—is choosing to fight the potential for pollution with the barrel of a gun.

As Reason reports, this isn’t just Calderon’s crusade. The California cities of San Luis Obispo and Davis both passed straws-on-request laws last year, and Manhattan Beach maintains a prohibition on all disposable plastics. And up in Seattle, food service businesses won’t be allowed to offer plastic straws or utensils as of July.

While this law may seem totalitarian and utterly ridiculous to many, the fact is that it is gaining widespread support.

Even the LA Times wrote an article in support of this type of legislation. According to the Times, “A straws-on-request policy, which would be easy for restaurants to adopt, could make an immediate difference. Not only would it save food service providers a few bucks on overhead (bulk straws may be inexpensive, but they’re not free), it would convey a potent message to customers about the little plastic tube’s environmental cost they may not have previously considered.”

As Reason points out, celebrities are jumping on the bandwagon too, “celebrity astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson (always up for a little chiding) and Entourage star Adrian Grenier have appeared in videos where an octopus slaps them in the face for using a plastic straw.”

No one here is denying that the oceans are filling up with plastic. In fact, as TFTP previously reported, the problem has gotten so bad that scientists have predicted there will be more Plastic in the Oceans by 2050—than fish.

Right now, one garbage truck of plastic is being dumped into the ocean every minute.

This disturbing reality is underscored by the recent discovery of another giant patch of plasticbigger than Mexico—floating in the South Pacific Sea. It was discovered by Captain Charles Moore, who found the North Pacific Garbage Patch in 1997.

One million seabirds die each year from ingesting plastic, and up to 90 percent have plastic in their guts. Microplastic (resulting from the breakdown of larger pieces by sunlight and waves) and microbeads (used in body washes and facial cleansers) are the ocean’s smog. They absorb toxins in the water and enter the food chain, from the smallest plankton to the largest whales, as well as humans.

See? Plastic in the ocean is a very real danger to the environment and all life on the planet. But, are waiters responsible? Should they be thrown in jail for offering a customer a straw with their iced tea?

No, and anyone who supports such tyranny does more to hinder the progress of humanity than any waiter giving a customer a staw ever would.

There are solutions—outside of the police state.

The New Plastics Economy describes how to move from the ‘take, make, dispose’ economic model to a circular plastics economy, which is both environmentally sustainable and profitable for business.

And let’s not forget, there is an alternative with massive potential which is currently prohibited by federal government: hemp. One of the most useful plants on the planet, hemp has thousands of applications, including making plastic that is biodegradable and non-toxic.

But standard plastic is made from petroleum, and the fossil fuel industry has long had a stranglehold on government and the economy. So hemp—used by humans for thousands of years—was banned by the U.S. government (along with all forms of cannabis), even though it can’t get anyone high.

Several states have legalized or are in the process of legalizing the production of hemp, despite federal prohibition. Only days prior to this writing, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. Congress to legalize industrial hemp nationwide and bring this amazing plant back onto American farmlands.

Aside from a different economic approach, innovations like those of 19-year-old Boyan Slat provide feasible solutions to cleaning up ocean plastic patches. According to the Ocean Clean Up Group, 

Slat’s concept uses the natural ocean currents and winds to passively transport plastic towards a collection platform. Instead of using nets and vessels to remove the plastic from the water, solid floating barriers are used to make entanglement of sea life impossible. By deploying the proposed system for ten years, almost half of the plastic within the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can be removed.

Also, on June 29, 2015, in New York City, Parley for the Oceans Founder Cyrill Gutsch discussed the partnership and showcased their first prototype product.

According to their website,

Adidas created a world first with a shoe upper made entirely of yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets.

The concept shoe illustrates the joint commitment of adidas and Parley for the Oceans and offers a first look at the kind of consumer-ready ocean plastic products that will be revealed later this year

We have reached a point where the ocean ecosystems that help to sustain human life can no longer be taken for granted. It is incumbent upon us to evolve from the disposable attitude that is represented so potently in our use of plastics. But this must be done without state coercion, otherwise what world are we trying to protect?

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