Plastic linked to cancer

Plastic chemicals


Chemicals found in plastics

Plastic is everywhere—it's used in consumer products and packaging of all kinds. And while it solves a lot of problems for manufacturers and can seem convenient to consumers, there are also serious risks to human health and the environment from its widespread use. Three plastics have been shown to leach toxic chemicals when heated, worn or put under pressure: polycarbonate, which leaches bisphenol A; polystyrene, which leaches styrene; and PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, which break down into vinyl chloride and sometimes contains phthalates that can leach. And for more specific information about these and other chemicals found in plastics, including what they do and why they're bad for you, look below.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

One of the most pervasive chemicals in modern life. It's a building block of polycarbonate (#7 is often polycarbonate) plastic and is used in thousands of consumer products, including food packaging. BPA exposure may disrupt normal breast development in ways that predispose women for later life breast cancer.


Phthalates are a group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in PVC or #3 plastic. Phthalate exposure has been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer. Some phthalates also act as weak estrogens in cell culture systems.

Vinyl Chloride

Vinyl chloride is formed in the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or #3 plastic. It was one of the first chemicals designated as a known human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It has also been linked to increased mortality from breast cancer among workers involved in its manufacture.


Dioxin is formed in the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or #3 plastic. Dioxin has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a known human carcinogen, and is also an endocrine disruptor.


Styrene can leach from polystyrene or #6 plastic and is found in Styrofoam food trays, egg cartons, disposable cups and bowls, carryout containers and opaque plastic cutlery. It has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a possible human carcinogen.

EarthFest LA & Sixth Annual Concert in the Park for the Environment

Go Green LA!


EarthFest LA and 6th Annual Concert in the Park for the Environment (formally known as South Los Angeles Earth Fest) will take place on Saturday April 23, 2011, at Kenneth Hahn Regional Park, from 10am to 6pm. The event will include entertaining and educational activities, an Environmental Expo, and a Concert featuring head- liners Paul Brown and Jessy J.


Admittance to the Expo

  Admittance to the Expo portion of the event is free, where one can find healthy cooking demonstrations, youth educational activities, gardening tips for urban, green job symposium, green product demonstrations, concessions and family fun.



  Those performing at “Earthfest LA Concert in the Park for the Environment” include Grammy-winning jazz guitar legend, Paul Brown, saxophonist, Jessy J and rising star saxophonist, Jackiem Joyner. The concert begins at 1:30 p.m.; seating starts an hour prior. Tickets start at $40 and proceeds help support California Greenworks programs.

“Our music lineup this year is pretty exciting,” says Mike Meador, founder and CEO, California Greenworks, Inc. “We’re hoping to draw in a wide audience to help support California Greenworks initiatives such as Water Links!, our Urban Youth Watershed Environmental Education Program and MLK, Jr. Boulevard Mainstreet Greening Initiative, as well as other beautification projects in South Los Angeles.”


History of LA GreenFest

  In 2006 California Greenworks organized the first Earth Day Festival in South Los Angeles, California. Now known as Earthfest LA, the environmental focus aims to improve the quality of life in urban communities throughout southern LA. Recent efforts include: restoration of waterways, educating elementary school kids on the importance of protecting the environment, and creating a community-based program that raises watershed pollution awareness.


About California Greenworks

  California Greenworks Incorporated is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization formed to promote environmental protection, sustainability, community revitalization and economic development throughout urban communities in southern California. California Greenworks seeks to improve the quality of urban life through various programs and projects that advocate open space preservation in urban communities, restoration of waterways, and community beautification activities. For more information please visit: and

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Daly City Plastic Bag Ban Drama!

Daly City CA: Last night Feb 14, Daly City council member David Canepa took the first step to introduce a plastic bag ban. Unfortunately he was met with opposition. Sadly the opposition was from his fellow colleague Maggie Gomez (who is headed to trial in March on fraud charges) Mrs. Gomez in a heated exchange, excuses Mr. Canepa of "Headline grabbing" and "back dooring". Mr. Canepa stood his ground and informed Mrs. Gomez that he is taking an open and transparent approach. Vice major Mr. Gonzalo Torres goes as far as walking away from the table.
Mr. Canepa took a bold step in the right direction despite the brief altercation. Manuel Martinez, founder of Project GreenBag spoke at the hearing saying:
"Hi, I'm Manuel Martinez, I'm the founder of the Project GreenBag, a reusable bag company based in San Francisco.
I started the company out of my concern for a very serious problem, plastic bag pollution.
Given all the negatives with the plastic bags, I find it's absurd to hear there is a group dedicated to saving the plastic bag.
As we all know, plastic bags are not biodegradable, they liter our community's street, and pollute our waterways and oceans. We should all be rallying for a responsible replacement to plastic bags, not trying and save them.
Paper bags also have a negative impact on the environment. So what is the solution? What do we use to take home our groceries and other items we purchase?
The answer is Project GreenBag. Project GreenBag is the most eco-friendly, sustainable alternative to plastic bags.
Our reusable bags are made from 100% organic cotton which means they are biodegradable. They are designed and made in San Francisco, we never outsource any part of our process, which means we are creating green manufacturing jobs for Californians, not just office jobs.
Council members… Rid your city from plastic bag pollution, protect your environment, and ban the plastic bag!"
Many other members of the community came out to show their support as well. Mr. Canepa will need the communities help to pass the ban. Watch this page for info. We will post an update when the next hearing on banning plastic bags in Daly city is held. We hope you can come out and jon us then.
Read our previous article about the Daly City plastic bag ban here

Marin Approves Plastic Bag Ban Unanimously

Santa Monica businesses will no longer be able to give out light-weight plastic shopping bags, under an ordinance passed Tuesday by the City Council. The ordinance – which passed by a unanimous 4 votes – came after three years of delays and threats of lawsuits from plastic industry interests.
During deliberations, with dozens of young people and environmentalists and one lawyer from the Save The Plastic Bag coalition in attendance, Mayor Richard Bloom thanked city staff for their work in crafting the new regulations.
“Would we have liked to have done it sooner? You bet,” Bloom said. “But we’ve got an ordinance that we think will hold up to a legal challenge. And that’s the critical thing.”
Known for its progressive politics, Santa Monica has joined a half dozen other California cities in banning plastic bags out of concern for the environment.
Thin plastic bags are difficult to recycle and control where they go. They get blown about by the wind and litter our streets and beaches. Eventually they wind up in the ocean and cause damage to marine life, environmental officials say. Municipalities which have adopted or are considering similar ordinances include San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley, Long Beach, Palo Alto and the County of Los Angeles.
The ban only applies plastic bags that are less than 2.25 millimeters thick, such as those typically given out by grocers and pharmacies, which are intended for one-time use. Markets will be allowed to offer paper bags made from recycled content for a minimum fee of 10 cents per bag – money which will be kept by the stores to offset expenses.
But the main purpose of the fee is to create a disincentive for using the disposable bags. Instead, the new ordinance is intended to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags to the store
Not included in the ban are light weight “product bags”, such as those found in grocer’s produce sections. Heavier plastic bags commonly used by retail shops are also not included. Also exempt from the ban are carry-out food business, since hot liquid seeping through a paper bag could cause injuries.
The ordinance will kick in near the end of February but won’t be enforced until September. In the meantime, the city’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE) will help businesses and their customers make the transition.
In the weeks and months ahead, OSE staffers will meet with the businesses and the public to educate people about the new rules and hand out reusable cloth shopping bags. In a model of sustainability, the OSE bags are made from scrap cloth from L.A.’s garment district and are sewn locally by vets at the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration.
The outreach, is expected to last about two years. City staff began working on the ban in early 2008 and returned to the council with a proposed ordinance in January 2009. Following the advice of the city attorney, council put off voting and instead moved for a public hearing and a California Environmental Quality Act review to fend off lawsuits from plastic-bag interests.
Last summer, California Representative Julia Brownley sponsored an assembly bill for a similar ban statewide. But the bill was voted down by the California legislature.
The city was again poised to pass the ban last fall but ran into complications with the November passage of California’s Proposition 26. At that time, Santa Monica’s ordinance would have taken part of the fees collected by grocers for paper bags and put the money in the city coffers. But Proposition 26 redefined such levies as taxes requiring voter approval.
Tuesday’s passage of the ordinance may not mark the final chapter as legal challenges could likely occur.

Brownsville, Texas Plastic Bag Ban In Effect

Brownsville, Texas - This city is becoming the first in Texas to ban single-use plastic bags commonly given to buyers at grocery and retail stores. An ordinance against the urban tumbleweeds starts Wednesday and requires shoppers to bring their own bags or pay a $1 surcharge to use stores' single-use bags.
Plastic bags of a certain thickness and meant for reuse are allowed, however, as are single-use plastic bags designed to prevent contamination from meat, fish and poultry.
Merchants from the big-box national retailers and smaller stores have long sold reusable bags to prepare for the ban, and thousands of bags were given away at prior community events.
A voluntary ban has been in effect since the Brownsville City Commission approved the measure more than a year ago. An expanded ban had been set to take effect Saturday, but was delayed to avoid confusion from the New Year's Day holiday.
City leaders say the move will combat pollution and free up landfill space. Other Texas communities, including Austin and Laredo, have tried and failed to enact measures to reduce plastic bag waste. Brownsville has prepared residents for the ban with billboards and TV spots, which supporters of the measure — including large retailers like H-E-B grocery stores — helped finance.
The ban in Brownsville, across the Rio Grande from Matamoros, Mexico, is being watched across Texas and by retailers around the country to see how well it works. Critics complain the law could unfairly punish residents who can't afford to buy reusable bags.
City leaders say the goal is to phase out the bag surcharge eventually, however, and that customers will only have to pay $1 to use stores' plastic bags until stores use up their remaining stocks and have no more plastic bags to distribute.

Project GreenBags Are Manufactured In The USA

For most Americans, working in factories was so 50 years ago. Today only 10 percent of the workforce is employed by the manufacturing sector, as compared to 34 percent in 1950. Some might see this as progress, especially since factory work is often associated with long hours, mind-numbing assembly line work, and windowless facilities.
SFMade promotes manufacturing of a different kind, and it's on a crusade to bring those jobs back to San Francisco. Companies in the SFMade network see their workers as artisans, not cogs in a machine, and their craftsmanship can be seen in all sort of products.

San Francisco lost 65% manufacturing jobs since 2001, outsourced to overseas. Manufacturing in the USA cost more, but the rewards are great. Zero sweatshop labor, fair wages, health care, green jobs for Americans, and a sustainable future for us all!
Take a look inside your 'eco-friendly' reusable bag. Where is your's made? Does it matter to you? Buy an eco-friendly bag from Project GreenBag, they are made in the USA & stop plastic pollution at the same time!
Watch this video below and compare the manufacturing process in America and overseas.

San Jose Bans Plastic Bags Starting 2012

Tuesday December 14, 2010. San Jose California.
Would you like a plastic bag? No way (San) Jose! Following the recent passing of plastic bags in Los Angles, the city of San Jose also passed an ordinance to ban plastic bags for all commercial businesses except restaurants and nonprofit charitable reuse organizations. The ban will begin January 1, 2012. Shoppers will be charged .10 to discourage using paper bags as a substitute. After two years the charge will increase to .25 cents.
Many environmental organizations such as Heal the Bay, Save the Bay, California Against Waste, Safeway supermarket, California Grocers Association, and Project GreenBag attended in support of the ban.
Manuel Martinez, Founder of Project GreenBag told San Jose city council members during the hearing:
"I am here to address a very serious problem in our community… plastic pollution, more specifically plastic bags.
All products and industries change over time, and we are now seeing a transition happen from plastic bags to reusable bags. As new and better products emerge, old ones are phased out. However, plastic bags are toxic and hazardous to the environment, and to us… this is not sustainable… and they need to be banned now. 
This debate always leads to the topic of jobs. Reusable bags are a fast and growing sector and have the potential to bring revenue into California's economy.
Project GreenBag is a unique reusable bag maker because we make bags from 100% organic cotton and manufacture them here in California. This the sustainable alternative to plastic bags. Project GreenBag does not outsource any part of our production overseas. This means green every job we create is a California job. On behalf of Project GreenBag, I urge San Jose to vote yes and ban the plastic bag."

Watch the City of San Jose pass the plastic bag ban below:

Of course there were two opponents of the ban. View one opponents speech here:

Italy Bans Plastic Bags

(ANSA) - Rome, December 3 - Italy is moving ahead with a plans to ban the production and distribution of non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags starting January 1, its environment minister told ANSA this week.
"There is no going back", said Stefania Prestigiacomo, stressing that "producers had enough time to prepare themselves for this change". The government's plans to ban plastic bags, first drawn up in 2007, originally foresaw an end to their use starting from January 2010 before a one-year extension was granted.
A campaign is being planned to inform citizens about the ban and about environmentally friendly alternatives, said Prestigiacomo. The environment minister is certain that the ban will have a positive effect. "Sustainability is made of little changes to our lifestyle that don't cost us anything and can save the planet."
Italians use a total of 20 billion plastic shopping bags every year. According to researchers, plastic bags remain in the environment for a minimum of 15 years to a maximum of 1,000 years, polluting the air, the sea, rivers and forests.
A recent poll suggested that Italians are ready to do their bit, with 73% saying they would use alternatives to polluting plastic bags when out shopping. These include biodegradable shopping bags and carrying bags made of natural fabric such as cotton, hemp and other materials.
Unionplast, an association that includes firms in the plastic production sector, criticised the imminent implementation of the ban, arguing that the European Union didn't have specific guidelines prohibiting plastic shopping bags.
According to the association, plastic bags are not a threat to the environment because they can be recycled. Unionplast also pointed out that alternative, biodegradable shopping bags break more easily as they are not as resistant as plastic, and also cost three times as much.
However, leading Italian environmental organisation Legambiente praised the government's plans and echoed Minister Prestigiacomo's comments by reminding producers that the starting date for the ban had been announced well in advance, giving them enough time to plan ahead.
The government's intention to implement the ban without further delays is of crucial importance, said a member of Legambiente's scientific team. Meanwhile, the industry ministry is drawing up temporary measures to allow supermarkets and shops to get rid of their plastic bag supplies.

Arkansas wants to ban plastic bags

(Little Rock, AR) - They're part of life almost every day for most of us. But one Arkansas Lawmaker wants to completely ban plastic grocery bags to reduce pollution and waste. State Senator Denny Altes of Fort Smith filed the bill Monday for the legislative session set to begin January 10, 2011.
The recycling business owner says people come up to him all the time saying they want somethig done about plastic bags like littering the road. His bill would encourage people to use more cloth bags by completely prohibiting plastic. But shoppers we talked to aren't sold on the idea.
Deb's Family Market in Little Rock could save a lot of money by switching to cloth bags. Right now they have to order about 18,000 plastic bags a month to keep up with customers' needs. Assistant manager Roxann Morris said, "there are a lot of people who don't like the plastic bags because they accumulate and they end up with just tons and tons of them."
Morris sees how switching to cloth bags like these could be good for the environment and so do customers. But those we talked to worry about the added cost of replacing 99 cent cloth bags when they wear out. Shopper Laura Wright said, "I don't want to continue to keep buying bags, I'm paying for the food."
Customers we talked say they're also worried about meat placed in cloth sacks. They say they really want to make sure blood doesn't spill out onto the cloth posing a health risk. Wright said, "the meat will leak then you have bloody bags. That will be what, salmonella or something and you'll have blood all over vegetables, potatoes."
State Senator Denny Altes who will become a state representative in January says it's time to return to the old ways like butcher paper to double wrap meat, because something needs to be done about waste. Altes said, "probably less than 15 percent of the post consumer plastic bags are recycled and they're lining up on the side of the road and in the trash."
But he says a large percentage of paper does get recycled so paper sacks could be offered in addition to cloth while still protecting the environment.
Now this wouldn't apply to all grocery stores: only larger ones that do more than $2 million in sales a year. If this passes the new rule would go into effect January 1, 2012.

L.A. County passes ban on plastic bags

Enacting one of the nation's most aggressive environmental measures, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to ban plastic grocery bags in unincorporated areas of the county.
The vote was 3-1, supported by Supervisors Gloria Molina, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Zev Yaroslavsky, and opposed by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. Supervisor Don Knabe was absent.
The ban, which will cover nearly 1.1 million residents countywide, is to the point: “No store shall provide to any customer a plastic carryout bag.” An exception would be made for plastic bags that are used to hold fruit, vegetables or raw meat in order to prevent contamination with other grocery items.
If grocers choose to offer paper bags, they must sell them for 10 cents each, according to the ordinance. The revenue will be retained by the stores to purchase the paper bags and educate customers about the law.
“Plastic bags are a pollutant. They pollute the urban landscape. They are what we call in our county urban tumbleweed,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said.
Mark Gold, president of the Santa Monica environmental group Heal the Bay, said previous county efforts to promote recycling of plastic bags at grocery stores was a failure.
“You cannot recycle your way out of the plastic bag problem,” Gold said. “The cost of convenience can no longer be at the expense of the environment.”
The measure is a significant win for environmental groups, which suffered a major defeat in Sacramento at the end of August with the failure of the state Senate to pass a sweeping plastic bag ban that won the support of the state Assembly and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger amid heavy and costly lobbying by plastic bag manufacturers.
But the ban could cause confusion. The action by the Board of Supervisors only covers the unincorporated areas of L.A. County, covering some neighborhoods like Altadena, Valencia and Rowland Heights, but doesn't cover 88 cities in L.A. County. City councils could adopt a similar ordinance.
Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich raised the prospect that small mom-and-pop shops could suffer financially because they won’t be able to buy paper and reusable bags in great volume, and could force low-income people to buy bags to pick up pet waste or carry their lunch.
“At a time of economic uncertainty, with a large number of businesses leaving our state and community this would not be an appropriate time ... to impose this additional regulation,” Antonovich said.
Opponents of the ban told the supervisors that a legal challenge to the ban is still a possibility.
With the Tuesday vote, L.A. County’s measure is more stringent than similar bans adopted elsewhere in California, Gold said.
San Francisco’s ban, which passed three years ago, is less restrictive because it still permits grocers to offer bioplastic bags made from corn starch, which are imperfect because they also do not degrade in the ocean, Gold said. Bans in San Francisco and Malibu also do not add a surcharge on paper bags, Gold said, which does not give consumers an incentive to switch to reusable cloth bags.
Washington, D.C., decided to tackle the issue not with a ban on any kind of bag, but a 5-cent surcharge per any item of disposable bag.
Gold, however, said an outright ban will be more effective on reducing the 6 billion plastic bags that are used in L.A. County every year, which according to the county, account for 25% of the litter picked up here.
Government figures show that just 5% of plastic bags are recycled. Last week, the American Chemistry Council, one of the chief opponents of the ban, warned L.A. County leaders that the proposed ordinance and fee on paper bags fall under the voting requirements of Proposition 26. The initiative, which passed this month, reclassifies most regulatory fees on industry as "taxes" requiring a two-thirds vote in government bodies or in public referendums, rather than a simple majority.
County Counsel Andrea Ordin said Tuesday that the 10-cent surcharge on paper bags is not a fee covered by Prop. 26 because the revenue is being kept by the grocers and not directed to a government agency.
Photo via Heal the Bay

Use less plastic to save our oceans [Video]

Every piece of plastic ever made still exists today, and much of this plastic has traveled from our hands to our oceans. The most important thing you can do is use less plastic. Join the Blue movement and sign the plastic pledge at
Director: Mariana Blanco Animator: Sol Linero Production Co: Hoodablah -
Song: Pot Kettle Black Written by Kianna Alarid, Neely Jenkins, Derek Pressnall, Jamie Lynn Pressnall & Nicholas White Performed By Tilly and the Wall

'Refuse Disposable Plastics' By The Plastic Pollution Coalition [Video]

This video shows why we should all REFUSE disposable plastic. Sign the 'Refuse' pledge now at Find out why recycling isn't enough and learn more about how important it is to REFUSE - watch the upcoming http://www.tedxgreatpacificgarbagepatch event live on November 6th.

TEDx Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Live Stream

On Saturday, November 6, 2010, Plastic Pollution Coalition will host TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch: The Global Plastic Pollution Crisis, in Santa Monica, California, at the Annenberg Community Beach House.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.
Single-use plastics and disposable plastics are some of the greatest sources of plastic pollution. Follow the “4 Rs” of sustainable living: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. REFUSE single-use plastics today!
Refuse Just say NO to single-use and disposable plastics!
Reduce Reduce waste: buy in bulk, choose products with the least packaging, look for products and packaging made from renewable resources, and avoid plastic packaging and containers. Choose products that have the least amount of disposable parts, like razors with replaceable blades and toothbrushes with replaceable brushes.
Reuse Reuse preferably nontoxic (glass, stainless steel) containers and goods to make less waste. Bad habits are disposable, containers are reusable.
Recycle Recycle what you can’t refuse, reduce or reuse. Recycling is a last option because it uses energy, and there may not be a market for the refabricated materials.

WTF? "Key to Living a Sustainable Lifestyle" Is to Just Recycle Plastic Bags?

A sad attempt to mislead the public into thinking we can just recycle our way out of our plastic pollution mess. With just 3%-5% of Americans recycling plastic bags this is obviously not the solution. We already know, recycling is not working. Moreover, taking a reusable bag in never mentioned as part (is) the solution. It's time we put into place a real solution, eco-friendly bags made from an organic material and by Americans.

Even Children Know, Don't Shop With Plastic Bags [Video]

Working with American artist and environmentalist, Dianna Cohen, the students of Benjamin Franklin International School Elementary in Barcelona, Spain created a mural out of plastic bags to raise awareness about the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans. This piece will be on display at the Museu Agbar de les Aigües in Cornellá del Vallés, Barcelona, from June 8th to 9th 2010

'Plastic Gets There First' Surfer's Story of Plastic Pollution [Video]

Surfer/filmaker Chris Malloy and Keith Malloy have spent years travelling around the world looking for the best undiscovered surfing spots. From Antarctica to Iceland and from Galapagos to New Caledonia, no matter how remote the place was, plastic was already there.

'Plastic Beach' By Co-founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition Manuel Maqueda [Video]

Co-founder and environmental strategist Manuel Maqueda of Plastic Pollution Coalition, takes you on a trip to a beach cleanup on Midway Atoll. There are millions of tons of plastics present in our oceans, and these are constantly fragmenting into smaller and smaller pieces which are scattered throughout the water column and present, in different densities, throughout all the worlds oceans.
Contrary to what many people believe, there are no visible islands of trash anywhere --even if some areas, the gyres, accumulate higher densities of plastic pollution. In actuality, what is happening is much more complex and scary: our oceans are becoming a planetary soup laced with plastic.
To make thing worse, these tiny pieces of plastic are extremely powerful chemical accumulators for organic persistent pollutants present in ambient sea water such as DDE's and PCB's. The whole food chain, from filtering invertebrates to marine mammals are eating plastic and /or other animals who have plastic in them. This means that we are. Like the albatrosses on Midway, we carry the garbage patch inside of us.
Cleaning up this mess is not feasible, technically or economically. Even if all the boats in the world were put to the task somehow, the cleanup would not only remove the plastics but also the plankton, which is the base of the food chain, and is responsible for capturing half of the CO2 of our atmosphere and generating half of the oxygen we need to breathe.
But even if this problem was solved too somehow, the amount of plastic that we could capture, at an immense cost, would be a drop in the bucket as compared to the amount that flows into the ocean every day. No matter how hard we push, in terms of technology or money, the boulder will be rolling back down the hill, throughout eternity, unless we stop putting more plastics into our environment.
The good news is that we can do this. We can do this now. We need to start a social movement that spreads virally and creates a critical mass of concerned citizens who pledge to move away from our disposable habits, and who raise their voice to reject and reverse a throwaway culture that might be profitable, but whose consequences are intolerable.
Video by: Jan Vozenilek
Written and narrated by: Manuel Maqueda
Music by Christen Lien

Plastic Bags Must Never Be Burned

Health & Environmental Effects of Burning Plastic Bags

There are so many plastic bags polluting our oceans and ending up in a landfill. So is it possible to just burn them and finally get rid of them? As with all plastics and other garbage, burning plastic bags is harmful to human health and the environment. Plastic should be recycled when possible and sent to the landfill if no recycling options are available.

Why is it harmful to burn plastics?

Plastic bags are a oil based product, which contains the chemical elements of hydrogen and carbon. When plastic bags burn, the composition of the bag mixed with the heat produces a highly toxic chemical called dioxin. Dioxins have been linked to cancer, can interfere with the endocrine gland system which produces hormones, and have been known to affect both the immune system and reproduction.
Burning any type of plastic releases toxic and potentially cancer-causing chemicals into the air, where they can be inhaled by humans and animals and deposited in soil and surface water and on plants. Residue from burning contaminates the soil and groundwater and can enter the human food chain through crops and livestock. If humans are near burn piles that contain plastic bags, they can easily ingest the toxic fumes directly into their systems.
Other chemicals released while burning plastics include benzo(a)pyrene (BAP) and other polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which have both been shown to cause cancer. If plastic film or containers are contaminated with pesticides or other harmful substances, those will also be released into the air. If plastics are burned with other materials, additional toxic chemicals may be created from the interaction of the different substances.
Unburned portions of the plastic become litter on the ground and in lakes and rivers. As it disintegrates, animals may eat the plastic and get sick. Larger pieces of plastic can become a breeding ground for diseases, such as by trapping water that provides habitat for mosquitoes.
If a manufacturer or retailer tells you to dispose of your plastics this way, please tell them it is illegal. You should always recycle or landfill your used plastics.