Seagrass Ecological Superpower

Seagrass: An Ecological Superpower Fighting Plastic Pollution

The wonders of seagrass are only now just being realized, with new studies indicating that the restoration of seagrass habitats leads to the rapid recovery of coastal ecosystems.

One of the major modern-day tragedies currently happening right now is the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

But did you know that we are losing at least 7% of seagrass fields every year as well?

Scientists were thrilled to discover the natural microplastic collection and purging process that this critical ecosystem provides the ocean. These grasses have been enriching, protecting, and nurturing coastal communities since the dinosaurs. Their roots hold seafloor sediment in place, their leaves filter out polluting chemicals, even a single blade can provide sanctuary for communities of microscopic marine life. Seagrass meadows are even known to make a gentle sound underwater much like tiny bells. These sounds are believed to guide everything from larvae to sharks.

U.N. report estimates that while these powerhouses of the sea cover only about 0.1 percent of the ocean floor, they perform up to 18 percent of the ocean’s carbon sequestration.

Illustration of seagrass

Right now scarring from boat propellers, chemical runoff, and overfishing coupled with extreme weather all threaten to destroy entire meadows. The forgotten Serengettis of the sea threatens to collapse under the destructive weight of the microplastics settling down upon them.

But efforts in Florida, Virginia, Australia, and parts of Europe have proven that seagrass meadows can be reseeded successfully. Scientists around the planet have raised the alarm, increasing their efforts to map and monitor seagrass colonies all over the world.

“I’m pitching seagrasses as an ally in climate change. They are an incredible ecosystem that continues to provide a wealth of benefits to humanity,” says Jonathan Lefcheck, a research scientist at the Smithsonian’s Environmental Research Center.

Offset your carbon footprint and defend our coasts and oceans with Project Seagrass Grow.

Citizen scientists across the planet are pitching in by reporting seagrass locations with the smartphone app SeagrassSpotter.

Shoutout to amazing souls at The Inn at Manzanillo Bay in Troncones Beach, Mexico.

Picture of clean up Bag

We love it when inns, hotels, and resorts promote stewardship of the land they occupy. The coastal state of Guerrero is home to many beach villages whose main economy is the hospitality industry. It’s incredible to see small business owners align with our values, promoting clean beaches through individual action.

Keep up the good work Barrel Bag fam, we made it through another year. Let’s keep building on the momentum we’ve created.

Wishing you and yours peace and light for the rest of the year, and a fresh fighting spirit in the battle against single-use plastics in 2022.

Serious cash flow by burning plastic waste, claiming it as eco-friendly

Consumer goods and cement companies have come together to create serious cash flow by burning plastic waste, claiming it as eco-friendly.

Cement-makers and plastics goods manufacturers are heralding a new solution to solve our world’s problem of plastics. A “climate-neutral” solution that poses little to no threat to the environment and people. And what is that new solution, dear readers?

Plastic waste is skyrocketing and key cement players around the planet plan to quadruple or even quintuple their use of plastic waste in cement production. “It’s like moving the landfill from the ground to the sky,”, says Yobel Novian Putra, an advocate with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a coalition of groups working to eliminate waste.
Proponents say when the kilns burn hot enough, all toxic substances are incinerated. But accidents happen, like in Austria where a facility burned waste industrial waste only to taint a nearby dairy farm. Residents nearby had hexachlorobenzene in their blood, which can damage the nervous system, liver, and thyroid. HCB was released into the atmosphere because local regulators failed to ensure the kiln was running hot enough to destroy contaminants.
“The cement industry should leap-frog the whole burning-waste paradigm and move to clean fuel.” Lee Bell, advisor to the International Pollutants Elimination Network.

Maryland Elected Officials, ban burning single-use plastics and make plastic producers take responsibility.

Every year 1.5 billion toothpaste tubes are trashed worldwide – check out this article for some great alternatives.

Did you know 1,500 plastic water bottles end up in a landfill or in the ocean every second? No worries we’ve got you covered with another great list of alternatives you can swap out for plastic water bottles.

No significant climate benefit is to be gained from substituting plastic for coal, and that burning this waste in cement kilns can create harmful air pollution that must be monitored.

“Thinking that we recycle waste only, and that we should avoid plastic waste, then you can quote me on this: People believe in fairy tales,” Axel Pieters, chief executive of one of the world’s largest cement makers, and partner with Nestle, Unilever and Coca-Cola in plastic-fuel ventures.

There are over 3,000 cement kilns on the planet hungry for fuel. And with the production of plastics looking to continue to increase, there is nothing that can stop this trend. It would take collective action on a local and national level to 1. Begin to heal the damage caused by these plants and 2. Bring this issue into national focus. Right now the EPA’s last entry regarding cement kilns on their website is 2002 and for the Department of Justice, it’s 2014. Our leaders *know* the harm this practice can cause to the environment, to communities. One kid from Maryland decided he’s had enough.

Youth leader Carlos Sanchez from Lakeland High School in South Baltimore made a plea to residents and government leaders to join the cause and sign a petition calling for a halt to burning plastic. Show your support for his activism and for the people of Baltimore and join us in signing his petition!

Finally, we are thrilled to share with you our ongoing partnership with Heritage Conservancy. They preserve over 15,500 acres of open space, farmland, wildlife habitat, and important watershed areas in southeast Pennsylvania and foster environmental stewardship within their communities. By using Barrel Bag (and handing them out to volunteers) they have cleaned up trash and plastic waste in their community without adding trash bags to the waste.

Many people are completely unaware of this blitzkrieg to burn plastic waste, let’s make some noise.

10 Tips for Reducing Plastic-Waste During the Holidays

The holidays are upon us! Finally, the year of unfortunate events is coming to an end. I bet you are already making menus to feast on your holiday dinners or maybe wrapping gifts for your loved ones. Although we might be spending our holidays far from each other, we can still make sure the holiday spirit is felt wherever we are coming from. And while we sing our favorite songs, eat our favorite meals, spread the holiday cheer, we also want to welcome 2021 free from plastic pollution. Here are some tips we gathered for you:     

  1. Make your own decorations using paper or biodegradable materials you can find around the house.
  2. Reuse your last year’s holiday decorations and spice them up!
  3. Use reusable dishes and cutlery for holiday zoom parties and get-togethers.
  4. Wrap gifts in reusable or recyclable gift wrap like a cloth or a Barrel Bag!
  5. Choose a real Christmas tree if still on a budget! There are places where you can give back the trees for replanting.
  6. You can re-gift items you don’t want anymore.
  7. Make heartfelt messages, cards, or letters instead. For sure, they will love it and keep it forever!
  8. If possible, stay away from food items packed in so much plastic and glitter. 
  9. Bring reusable bags when you’re out shopping.
  10. Gift products that promote a plastic-free lifestyle & leave a little note that says why this lifestyle change is important for you.