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plastics

Alaska Airlines launched a #fillbeforeyoufly campaign to encourage reduced plastic use. Passengers, boarding a flight to Los Angeles, were gifted stickers and stainless-steel bottles Sept. 12 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Of all the things people do every year, flying causes more greenhouse gas pollution than almost anything. Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is working to shrink that carbon footprint. Its latest move is a campaign to reduce plastic waste on flights.

Jeff Barnard / The Associated Press

One of the top issues for environmental groups this legislative session is the pollution caused by thin, single-use plastic bags. They fly out of landfills into waterways, harming marine life and water quality. They also gum up recycling machinery and contaminate commercial compost.

So, Washington's Environmental Priorities Coalition is pushing for a statewide ban on the bags.

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

A coalition of state legislators, environmental groups and retailers have proposed a sweeping ban on single-use plastic bags. If approved, Washington would join just two other states in the nation to impose the statewide restriction.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

You may have noticed more food service providers changing the kinds of disposable utensils you get with takeout. In Seattle, a ban on plastic straws and cutlery officially kicks in this weekend. As of July 1, all eateries in city limits are required to provide straws and utensils that can be composted.

Mr. Jincks Flickr via Compfigh cc

The pressure is on Starbucks to create a disposable coffee cup that doesn’t end up in the trash. After a lengthy campaign that featured a huge puppet made of discarded cups and a petition with more than 800,000 signatures, the company announced a new $10 million initiative to develop a cup that is fully recyclable or compostable. 

Plastic makes great food packaging. It's waterproof and flexible. And best of all, it's impervious to all known bacteria — until now. Researchers have found a bacterium in the debris fields around a recycling plant in Japan that can feed off a common type of plastic used in clothing, plastic bottles and food packaging.

courtesy Carolyn Bowie

Western Washington University is poised to become the largest public university in the country to ban sales of bottled water. The school joins Evergreen State College and Seattle University in making the move.

For many young environmentalists, saying no to bottled water and yes to public taps is an easy choice and a cause they can get passionate about.

courtesy Burke Museum

Plastics have only been in wide use since the 1940s, yet they are everywhere, from sandwich bags to phones, to keyboards, to rain gear. Even the cans of soup in the grocery aisle are lined with it.

It's hard to imagine a world before these conveniences. What would your life be like without plastics?

Seattle resident Samantha Porter decided to find out. She works behind the scenes of the Burke Museum, which is hosting an exhibit titled "Plastics Unwrapped."

Courtesy Think Outside the Bottle

The disposable plastic water bottle is known for clogging landfills and choking marine life. As a result, 14 national parks no longer sell bottled water. And it looks like Mount Rainier National Park might be next.

courtesy Burke Museum

The  University of Washington’s 113 year-old Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is debuting a new look and feel. Curators there say they want people to think more about everyday objects and how they evoke our place in the world.

“The Life Before You” is the new tag line encouraging visitors to discover and explore the Burke’s collections. First up, as the rebranding rolls out, is a new temporary exhibition called Plastics Unwrapped.

Photo by by Sappymoosetree / Flickr

What’s the best way to have a Christmas tree…and not feel like you’re killing it?

The Adopt-a-Stream Foundation in Everett says if you don’t mind something that looks a bit scrappy, you can have your tree and plant it too.

The foundation says it rented out 100 trees over this past weekend…and they have about 100 more available. They’ll be open 9-5 through Friday.

Stephanie Avery-Gomm

A new study suggests there’s been a dramatic increase in plastic pollution off the coast of the Pacific Northwest over the past 40 years.

That’s after analysis of trash ingested by seabirds in Washington and British Columbia.

The amount of plastic debris in the part of the Pacific Ocean known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" has grown 100-fold in the past 40 years.

In a paper published today by the journal Biology Letters, scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography report that most of that plastic has degraded into pieces no bigger than a fingernail. But that wasn't the major finding the scientists are reporting.

The scientists have found that all those pieces of plastic have provided ample opportunity for insects called "sea skaters" to breed.

The AP reports:

If you’re confused about what to do with the plastic bags you get at grocery stores, you’re not alone. 

Many people know that they’re bad for the environment and that they can be recycled, but how to recycle them is another question.