connections | 12

a small experiment in linking peers + postings

of service to environment

© Chris Jordan

© Chris Jordan.

© GREG BISLAND,  Pledge Off Plastic, MCDM, Cohort 12

Plastic is everywhere; it wraps our food, it packages our products; it touches us every day. Lately, I’ve been wondering whether it’s enough to just recycle. No matter how much we recycle, plastic ends up in our streams, along our roads, and in our oceans. It kills wildlife, and I’d wager it hurts us. That’s why I’m taking a pledge off plastic: ninety days without buying or receiving plastic products, or as near as I can manage. In this blog, I will document my struggles to avoid using plastic. My pledge off plastic starts on October 20 and ends on January 17.

The rules of the plastic pledge are:

  • Do not purchase any product containing plastic (food containers, DVDs, etc.)
  • Do not use any disposable plastic products (e.g. straws, lids, packaging, etc).

If I use a disposable plastic product I have from before starting the pledge, I’ll document the use and sum up everything at the end of each week. Through this project, I hope to highlight:

  • Consequences of plastic.
  • Alternatives to plastic.
  • Resources to help accomplish the pledge.
  • What items contain plastic that you never think about.
  • How this pledge changes my habits and the way I think myself as a consumer.

I first heard about the Pacific Garbage Heap through TED Talks. I’m a vociferous TED Talk listener. I play them while I work on home projects, sometimes listening to

Follow Greg’s plastic-free journey on his blog Pledge Off Plastic. His easy writing style mixed with his observations of plastic in our every day lives underscore his dedicated effort.


several dozen in sequence. One day in 2010 when I was installing new bamboo flooring, I started noticing a lot of TED Talks discussing the oceans, marine life, and this thing called the Pacific Garbage Heap. The event where the talks had been recorded was called Mission Blue, and it was an independently organized TED event in the Galapagos Islands. From TED’s website:

“On April 6-10, 2010, inspired by Sylvia Earle’s TED Prize wish, a group of 100 scientists, activists and philanthropists set sail on an epic adventure into the blue. During five days of cruising the Galapagos Islands, we developed a new model of radical collaboration that could significantly impact the way we protect our oceans. (For details, read the blog post “Ocean Hope at Mission Blue.”)

Talks in this theme come from the scientists and ocean lovers onboard Mission Blue Voyage. And start by watching Sylvia Earle’s TED Prize wish from TED2009: “I wish you would use all means at your disposal — films! expeditions! the web! more! — to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.”

I was moved by what the speakers said during the event, yet the problem seemed very big and very distant. I rarely visited the coast, so I rarely saw the plastic detritus along the rocky shores of the Pacific Northwest.

Two events crystalized my feelings about plastic use: a visit to the Galapagos Islands in 2011 and a TEDx Rainier talk I attended here in Seattle at the University of Washington. In the Galapagos, I found my favorite place in the world—and one threatened by the ocean trash. Here in Seattle, I witnessed a video by Chris Jordan about his journey to the Midway Islands, a small island chain in the middle of the Pacific. In the trailer for his feature-length documentary, he presents the tragic story of the albatrosses that roost on the island. They are dying in droves, choking on the colorful plastic that washes ashore daily.

His five-minute documentary moved me and two hundred other people to tears.

I might not have the ability to bring people to tears in documenting my own struggles with plastic consumption, but I can do a small part to raise awareness about the crisis that’s under way in our oceans.


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This entry was posted on November 10, 2012 by in cohort 12 reposts + links, of service.

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