Teen Vogue Joined Greenpeace at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — Here’s What They Saw
By Perry Wheeler
Throughout this year, people all over the globe united to take on plastic pollution. Greenpeace supporters have asked their local supermarkets to phase out throwaway plastics, helped us reach 3 million signatures to companies like Coca-Cola, Nestle and Unilever demanding they invest in real solutions and participated in beach cleanups and brand audits to name the worst corporate plastic polluters.
Here are three things that Teen Vogue nails about the plastic pollution fight:
1. It's About Corporations, Not Individuals
For a long time, corporations have tried to put the onus on all of us to deal with plastic pollution. They created the narrative that recycling will solve this crisis, but to date, only 9 percent of the plastics that have ever been created have been recycled. They tell us not to litter but ignore the fact that no matter how their packaging gets into the environment, it will last for lifetimes.
A Greenpeace diver holds a banner reading "Coca-Cola is this yours?" and a Coca-Cola bottle found adrift in the garbage patch.
Teen Vogue is spot on to highlight the need for corporate accountability on plastic pollution. That's why we're working with all of you and our allies in the Break Free From Plastic movement to hold cleanups and brand audits around the world. We need to name and publicly shame the worst corporate plastic polluters, and demand that they stop producing so much plastic to begin with. The world's worst polluters must be transparent about their plastic footprints and take responsibility for their pollution. It's time to cut off plastic production at the source.
2. We Can't Just Clean Up the Ocean
Teen Vogue joined Greenpeace on its Arctic Sunrise ship to travel to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and see what "thrown away" really looks like. The reality: a soupy mix of plastics and microplastics twice the size of Texas. While we were able to document some plastic at the surface and collected thousands of pieces of microplastics in the middle of the Pacific, the vast majority of plastic pollution sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the oceans in general are impossible to just "clean up." We simply produce too much plastic, and much of it is too difficult to even see. These microfibers and microplastics are consumed by marine animals, and many of us then eat plastics through seafood as well. We simply need to stop producing so much plastic.
If you had a bathtub that was overflowing with water, you would not immediately reach for a mop. You'd first cut off the water at the tap, which is what we need to do with plastic pollution.
Top 5 Myths of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch youtu.be
3. The Throwaway Lifestyle is Just Not Sustainable
The issue actually goes much deeper than single-use plastics. Corporations have sold us on a throwaway lifestyle that trades moments of convenience for polluting or destroying our environment. We can no longer afford a throwaway lifestyle, and it's going to take more than just swapping out one throwaway material for another. We need corporations to fundamentally rethink how they bring products to people, innovating around reuse and reduction.
The fight against plastic pollution has only just begun. We can't rest when a corporation gets rid of plastic straws or a retailer phases out plastic bags. We need systemic change and for corporations to invest some of their profits into thinking through a world beyond throwaway plastics. Our oceans, waterways and communities depend on it.
Teen Vogue's continuing series Plastic Planet addresses the plastic crisis plaguing our oceans—while offering solutions and ways you can do something about it. Keep an eye on their site for additional content this month.
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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