Blog Tag: Pollution


Posted by Peter MUIR

Issues surrounding of over-reliance on plastic and how this is leading to massive amounts of plastic polluting our waterways have been making headlines. While some of this plastic pollution is obvious, some of how plastic reaches our seas and oceans is not so visible.

One of these is microbeads, where small pieces of plastic used in cosmetic products and toothpaste go down the sink to end up in our waterways. Another, one perhaps less known, are microfibres – small fibres of plastic that are released from synthetic fibres such as polyester when we wash our clothes.

These microfibres are tiny, but can cause major issues. It has been said that microfibres make up about one third of the plastic in our oceans. There is research indicating that plastic microfibers in tap water, with findings indicating 83% of samples were found to be polluted by micro plastics. Other research indicate that out of 20 bottled water brands tested, only one did not contain plastic microfibers.

What can you do as a consumer about this issue? How are you contributing to this? How might you be able to influence the companies who are causing this plastic pollution?

DB Green 10 year anniversary beach cleanup

Posted by Peter MUIR

Banning plastic microbeads

Posted by Peter MUIR


Plastic Free Seas has found some success in their advocacy campaign to ban microbeads in Hong Kong. Many leading brands of personal care products use microbeads, tiny particles of plastic, as an exfoliating and cleansing ingredient. These products are designed to be washed down the drain where the microbeads can pass through wastewater and sewage filtration systems, and are ultimately released out to sea. Microbeads act as sponges, absorbing and accumulating persistent organic pollutants (flame retardants, dioxins and pesticides), which are present in lakes and oceans. In addition, microbeads never fully degrade.

Scientific studies have shown that microbeads can be ingested by sea animals such as plankton, clams and shrimp. As these organisms are at the bottom of the marine food chain, it is likely that the fish and seafood we are eating may have ingested these potentially toxic microbeads.

The number of microbeads per product varies widely. One commonly used scrub product sold in Hong Kong states on the packaging that it contains 1,000,000 black and white ‘scrubs’ in the 100ml tube. Another brand claims it contains 2,000 beads per use.

Sa Sa, a leading cosmetics retailing group in Asia with over 280 retail stores, is the first Hong Kong retail group to commit to a phaseout timeline for microbeads. Their private label products will be free of microbeads by December 2018 and their non private labels will be encouraged to meet this deadline too.

Why not get involved in this campaign as a part of your CE efforts? Aside from evaluating (and eliminating) your own use of products that contain microbeads, get involved in creating awareness about this campaign. Sign their petition, then get in touch with Plastic Free Seas and see how you can further support them.

DB Beach Clean Ups

Posted by Peter MUIR

Beach-Cleanups-2016DB Green and Plastic Free Seas have set beach cleanup dates are set for the rest of 2016.  This presents a good way of getting involved in Community Engagement  – however as different year levels have different CE expectations, please check with your learning advisor.  Regardless of whether or not you include it in your CE portfolio, get involved!

At each beach cleanup there are experienced leaders to enhance your beach cleanup. Learn more about the local plastic pollution issue as well as understanding the global picture!

Gloves, bags and water refills will be provided.

Please wear closed toe shoes (no flip-flops!), sun protection, bug spray and bring a full reusable water bottle!

Invite your friends and family to join!


2016 Ocean Awareness Student Contest

Posted by Peter MUIR


DC secondary students are invited to join the 2016 ocean awareness student contest.  The theme for this contest is ‘Making Meaning out of Ocean Pollution’, and it challenges you to research, explore, interpret, and say something meaningful about the connections between human activities and the health of our oceans.

You are to focus on ONE type of ocean pollution and “make meaning” of it through art, poetry, prose or film. You are encouraged to connect it with their own life, their own local community, or something else that is personally meaningful to them, but what’s most important is to pick a topic that inspires and motivates.

Click on the contest website for more details.

Advocating McDonalds to be environmentally freindly

Posted by Peter MUIR

Get involved in this campaign to stop McDonalds providing needless plastic bags for beverages. Be an advocate for change!


Ideas for action to clean our oceans

Posted by Peter MUIR


When Tracey Read from Plastic Free Seas spoke to Year 7 students last week, she spoke about a recent report that stated that if we keep producing plastic at predicted rates, and continue disposing of it incorrectly, plastics in the ocean will outweigh fish in 2050! This is an alarming statistic, but one does not have to look far to see this. It is certainly an issue we need to do something about, some ideas for taking action include:
Indirect action – raise funds for a very innovative and exciting method for reducing plastic in our oceans. Check out the robotic vacuum ship and also how organizations such as Avaaz are raising funds to clean up our seas using this device
Advocacy – develop a campaign to persuade DB businesses to avoid using one-use products such as straws and plastic cutlery
Research – collect data on plastic products that wash up on DB beaches
Direct action – avoid unnecessary packaging and plastic when you shop; get involved in beach clean ups; improve your waste management at home

An example of advocacy

Posted by Peter MUIR

Coca-Cola Australia is currently lobbying the New South Wales government to not introduce a law that would directly provide money for plastic bottles. This is something that research has shown would have a direct effect on reducing plastic waste and increase recycling.

This video from Greenpeace Australia  is an example of advocacy – trying to persuade others to change their attitudes and behaviours for the betterment of our community.

What action would you be interested in advocating?  What change would you like to see?

A straw-free DB?

Posted by Peter MUIR


US-based NGO Ecocycle has calculated that 500 million straws are used in the US every day. These calculations were based on estimates provided by straw manufacturers. This figure does not include all of the straws attached to juice and milk cartons which has led to some thinking that 500 million is too low.

What would 500 million straws look like? 500 million straws could fill over 127 buses each day, or more than 46,400 buses every year of non-biodegradable plastic. I wonder how many straws are used in Hong Kong per year? Or how many are used here in DC?

An idea for a CAS or CE project would be to investigate the use of straws in DB, then advocate restaurants and citizens to change their practices in their use of straws. Perhaps your long term goal would be a commitment for DB to become a straw-free community! Check out these ideas on creating a straw free project on the Eco Cycle website.

WWF Coastal Watch

Posted by Peter MUIR

Join WWF’s Coastal Watch today!


The plastic pellet spill disaster of August 2012 marked a watershed moment for Hong Kong’s marine environment. While the pellet spill crisis has abated, the physical effects of marine debris are a constant presence on Hong Kong’s beaches and coastlines. The spirit behind WWF-Hong Kong’s Coastal Watch project is to bring forward this momentum to cherish our oceans and keep them clean. Coastal Watch will aim to use scientifically-sound methodologies to study, protect and provide year-round monitoring for all of Hong Kong’s ecologically valuable coastal habitats.

If you are aged 14 or above, physically fit, able to work outdoors and keen on marine conservation, then now is your chance to make a contribution! WWF are recruiting volunteer teams from businesses, social enterprises, schools, government departments and communities across Hong Kong to join Coastal Watch, their unique marine conservation project. Teams will conduct surveys and clean-ups in coastal areas of ecological importance. The application period runs from today to 7 June 2015. Don’t hesitate – team up with your friends and protect our threatened coastlines together. Group size: 20 to 30 people for coastal teams, 10 to 15 people for underwater teams.