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Why would I purchase plastic food containers when I already have some?  I wouldn’t.


The amount of plastic waste generated by a single family American home, by a single person home for that matter, is staggering.  We, as a culture, generate an amazing amount of non-composted trash, and much of this will not be  making it into the post-consumer recycle process or breaking down in our landfills.

I heard someone say once “when they dig us up in 2000 years they’ll call us the “plastic civilization”.  That is ironic on several levels, but I also found it rather embarrassing, and admit I thought it true. Considering the treasures we ourselves have dug up from past civilizations, things we place in museums and see auctioned off for millions of dollars, golden artifacts, once beautiful pottery and the like, our buried treasures are going to pale in comparison.

It may seem like a small contribution to re-use the plastics we all end up with once the foods they came in are gone, but multiply your plastic encased or covered purchases by the number of houses on your street or number of houses attached to your school district or town, and I hope you’ll realize too, that plastics are all of our problem.

We see much more recycling of plastics than we’ve seen in the past, but recycling plastics is an expensive business and there aren’t nearly enough companies doing it.  Much of the plastic you see with the recyclable sign do not get recycled.  It’ll be a good day when there’s enough companies to recycle the majority of plastics people throw away each day, but that day has not arrived.  As it is, there’s an active association of plastics recycling companies and that is good, but until I am assured the majority of plastics are being recycled I’m going to keep using the ones my foods come in and otherwise lessening my purchases of items encased in plastic.

Granted some of the post-consumer containers I use are not see-through, and I suppose that’s part of the attraction to people’s need to purchase “glad ware” and the like.   I use a sharpie pen and/or tape to easily mark and identify what’s in a particular re-used container in my freg, freezer or pantry.

Have you heard of Garbage Island?  Garbage Island is a floating mass of trash twice the size of Texas, floating out in the Pacific Ocean. Journalist Thomas Morton did a documentary on Garbage Island.  When I saw that documentary, I was once again shocked and embarrassed.  NOAA – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Assoc., calls these floating phenomenons “garbage patches” and has some very interesting information about them on their site.    I don’t want to be part of a culture that creates such things.  But, since I am, I’m going to do what I can to decrease my contributions.   Click on the NOAA map, below, for more information on our garbage patches.

All of us, or at least most of us, remember the campaign to cut the plastic six pack rings that hold a six pack together so they would not harm our natural wild-life.  I do not see that campaign publicized anymore.  Surely those who invented this plastic six-pack holder did not imagine that their invention, something that made them wealthy and helped an industry keep their cans together, would harm wild-life and otherwise start a national campaign to cut each of the circles on the thing to save wildlife from certain death getting caught in them.  But, those little plastic six pack things have been very harmful to wildlife, resulting in deformation, starvation and death to animals who unwittingly get stuck in them. The picture, at the end of this post, of a turtle who sadly became deformed by a six-pack net is linked to a blog post by eco-logical on the harms of these, and other, plastics to our environment.  That post also includes a lot of pictures of six-pack plastic trapped animals.There’s been a lot of information published, filmed and covered on all of this plastic trash we create, what happens to it and what doesn’t, and as an environmentally minded person I’ve read or seen a lot of it, but this week I’m adding my voice to the reminder, we still need to work against our trash making it into our oceans, our landfills and our homes.

Xtra trash is not necessary and while cleaning out the cupboards is a labor of necessity, this week it is also a seed for a new blog post, and acknowledgement that I’m interested in working on lessening my plastic consumption.  When they did us up I hope they’ll see our art, our science and many of our efforts to better ourselves and how we leave our planet.

Hope you’ll, consider your own purchases as a way to lessen our plastic foot print, and even save money, cut all of your six-pack nets, pick up plastic trash you find on our beaches and otherwise do your best to lessen the amount of harmful plastics in our environment.

– Best wishes – Gwen

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PS:  My lack of posts in the last year is attached to other commitments and issues that have monopolized my time.   I am glad to report that I am seeing the other side of both and look forward to being motivated to more blogging more often.

HOWARD GARRETT joined Gwen and Whidbey Chat listeners for his monthly Whale News visit.  A recording of the show can be heard on Thurs April 29th at 9am PST  and Fri April 30 at 4pm PST.  The KWPA  site for streaming and/or Howard & Orca Network can be reached through the links to your left – Click and Go

The Poop on Whales from the Coupeville Wharf

Picture by Klaus D. Neumann


Orca Network’s Howard Garrett walked down the wharf for his monthly visit to Whidbey Chat with Gwen Sam today.  One of the Orca Network Co-founders Howard is a regular guest on Whidbey Chat and is a sought after voice in all things Whale.  As with any time, Howard was full of interesting, even shocking news this week.  

Speaking about a new scientific peer-reviewed study, just released, Howard told Gwen and Whidbey Chat listeners there may very well be more than one species of Orca (Orcinus).  Killer whales may be as many as four or more species.  That is the proposal of a highly regarded paper written by lead scientist Phillip Morin, a geneticist affiliated with the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the University of California at San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and colleagues in the field (authors listed below).  While Howard has yet to dissect the paper he was peeked with interest as to what this means to the future study of the Orca.  

Howard explained that Orca have been living and evolving in their related groups for so many millenium; hunting their group’s particular and exclusive food choice (fish, or mammals, or shrimp, or squid…) living, hunting and migrating in the same locations over and over again, speaking in isolated and distinct ways with particular vocabularies, that pod to pod their DNA is distinctly different.  Using genetic evidence the paper looks to prove killer whales likely represent three separate species and suggests ancestors diverged roughly seven hundred thousand years ago, though does not pin-point whether resident, “type-A” Antarctic and North Atlantic types could be a single species, separate species or, even still, a separate sub-species.  There will be much more to follow on this new marine science as the scientific community, academia and specialists in the field, pick apart this scientific paper.  Check on the links to your left to read more about the findings. 

Pertaining to our local whales, Howard never disappoints when it comes to clearing things up.  He clearly explained the recent transient Orca attack on a resident male Grey whale, named Patch, out in the Saratoga Pass. The aggressive ramming of Patch was done by the female Orca in T-Pod, and may have been part of a training session for the young whales present, as a way of teaching them hunting techniques.

He went on to explain the details of a necropsy (autopsy) performed on one of the five emaciated & deceased Grey whales found around the Pacific Northwest and Canada in the last several weeks.  Having been on one of the necropsy teams, Howard was there to see that particular whale had a stomach full of saw-dust, due to feeding in a coastal area near a saw mill.  Howard was not on the team that performed the necropsy, last week, on the Grey who had a stomach full of contemporary items found in any home, boat, department or grocery store.  Beyond knowing through visual inspection what was in the stomach, the scientific samples and data collected are still being processed and studied and there’s no definitive answer, as of yet, what killed the Grey whales. 

A resent post on the Orca Network facebook page stated – “More good news about whale poop!”  And hence, Whidbey Chat listeners were informed, by Howard, of a dog, named Tucker, who is specially trained to stand on the bow of a boat and recognise whale fecal matter in the water.  Tucker, a black lab, enables scientists to more easily collect whale poop, which they then examine to ascertain the health and welfare of the animal.  Our listeners can be assured that Orca Network delves deep into all things whale and today was a prime example.   And why snicker about whale poop – ask your own doctor – waste not want not – the stuff can say a lot about your overall health.  

This interview includes facts of fish (whale food) who seem to swim backwards for hundreds of miles, dogs that seek out whale dung, female whales who brazenly teach their young to beat up on animals 3 times their size, local whale sightings, new big science and a bit about the Langley, Washington, Welcome the Whales Day Festival last weekend.  Yet another wonderful month with Orca Network co-founder Howard Garrett. 

Whidbey Chat listeners, and Gwen would like to thank Howard, Susan Berta and the Orca Network for informing and entertaining us!  

The current information and related press about the Orca species study can be found on the Orca Network site  – click the Howard Garrett link to your left- once at the sight go to their “news” page.

The species study was conducted by lead author Phillip Morin, a geneticist affiliated with the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the University of California at San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and colleagues; Frederick Archer, Andrew D. Foote, Julie Vilstrup, Eric E. Allen, Paul Wade, John Durban, Kim Parsons, Robert Pitman, Lewyn Li, Pascal Bouffard, Sandra C. Abel Nielsen, Morten Rasmussen, Eske Willerslev, M. Thomas P. Gilbert, Timothy Harkins,  who collaborated over numerous years in as many places on the earth to propose this possibility.   Howard looks forward to seeing more of the study and promises to update the site as soon as more information comes in.  



August 2017
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