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Purging the plastics

In today's GreenSpace column, I wrote about Beth Terry, an accountant from California — why is it that everything on the forefront of green comes from the Golden State? — who is trying to rid her life of plastic.

There was tons of information I couldn't fit into the article. So for those interested in pursuing the topic further, here are a number of links:

One of the first things that brought Terry's attention to the problem of plastic was an article on Capt.  Charles Moore, who sailed through the plastic sea, which appeared in Best Life Magazine.

Moore has since founded the nonprofit Algalita Research Foundation. The website is fascinating; you can download many of its research papers (pelagic plastics, biological impacts, etc.) and learn about educational efforts, like a traveling "junk raft."

The nonprofit advocacy group, Greenpeace, did a report on marine plastics. I can no longer find it on their website, but it's here on the United National Environment Programme site.

LA Times reporter Ken Weiss wrote a four-part series, "Altered Oceans," in 2006, and the fourth part was this: "Plague of Plastic Chokes the Seas." Read it and find more links here.

In March, the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy will release its report, "The Rising Tide of Ocean Debris," which it touts as the world's only country by country, state by state analysis of the problem of trash in our ocean. Meanwhile, you can read their short take on marine debris here.

One of Terry's early inspirations was "No Impact Man" — aka Colin Beavan.  He in the thick of what describes as an "experiment with researching, developing and adopting a way of life for me and my little family — one wife, one toddler, one dog — to live in the heart of New York City while causing no net environmental impact." He blogs about it here. (And it's soon to be a book and movie.)

One of the few plastics Terry was unable to rid her life of was the Brita water pitcher filters. Plus, they couldn't be recycled! So she launched a campaign, and not long ago the company agreed to take back the filters. On Jan. 30, Terry delivered her collection filters to her local Whole Foods store, which is participating. (Note: Not all Whole Foods stores are.) Here's the website dedicated to the campaign.

Some of the things Terry found to help her manage life without plastics: Glass straws from the GlassDharma and portable cutlery and containers from To-Go Ware.

One of the groups that Terry belongs to is Green Sangha, which is "to restoring our sense of oneness ? healing our communities and the earth through mindful practice and awakened action."

And, of course!, Terry's own blogsite,, is a virtual encyclopedia of additional information.

To learn what the plastics industry has to say, they have a website, "Better Living with Plastics," that talks about the convenience plastic offers and gives recycling tips for the plastic you do have.

Happy investigating!