Recycling Alert: Pacific Garbage Patch is Now a Plastic Island
Captain Charles Moore discovered the "Pacific Garbage Patch" or "Plastic Soup" in the Pacific Ocean. It was not a real island then, but during his last research expedition found a "Plastic Island," walk on it, and captured with drone photo.
Captain Charles Moore was the one who originally discovered the Pacific Garbage Patch and has inspired many others to begin studying the ever increasing problem that is already impacting us all in many ways.
Captain Moore said, “People used to think the “Garbage Soup” that he found in the Pacific Ocean was a “Plastic Island” and he would have to correct people that was not the case. That has changed since his last trip to this area where he brought a research team and drones to survey a larger area than ever before.
He was astounded to find that not only had the amount of plastic and trash increased exponentially, but now there was indeed a “Plastic Island” that he could walk on. Drone pictures where part of their fundraising presentation today at the Algalita headquarters in Long Beach, California.
Today Captain Moore and his non profit organization Algalita is hosting this fundraiser to raise money to continue their research and support their youth conference where students come from all over the world and even as far as Africa to brainstorm, share, and learn what they can do to help. These students are not only our hope for the future, but very capable of getting things done to bring change as students according to Captain Moore.
Algalita has not only been sharing their 20 years of research with the world, but has been a leading force in helping us understand just how bad and progressive the problem with plastic and pollution in our ocean really is right now. This is critical if we are going to take action before it is too late.
Already countless marine animals are suffering from entanglement and a diet of plastic food since they think the colorful pieces floating in the water and that crowd the shoreline is food. Many birds and other marine animals die with all kinds of plastic in their stomachs. If not that they get so trapped in nets that have been dumped or lost or other ocean trash, that they can only wait to die of starvation or wounds that cut through their flesh.
The plastic breaks down into smaller pieces along with much of the debris taking hundreds and even thousands of years to breakdown so basically it just keeps getting more and more dense as most will not go away in our lifetime or many more into the future.
The likelihood of the fish we eat being contaminated with plastic is now one in four and within 10 years one fourth of the weight in the ocean will be plastic and trash. The stream of plastic and debris that goes into the ocean is endless and continues 24/7 and 365 days a year from virtually every county out there whether directly into the ocean because it is located on the coast, or by river that flows to the ocean.
Recycling systems are set up so that the same people that run the landfill also run the recycling program. They make money either way and are not motivated to keep trash out of the ground and set goals for "Zero Waste” programs.
Liesl Thomas, Executive Director of Algalita says that big corporations need to change their manufacturing systems so that we can recycle and reuse what they make. She said they will have to be willing to give up some profit, but will end up being the company of choice for our governments and consumers.
Some trash can end up recycled into materials that can fuel other recycling industries and even create “MILLIONS OF NEW JOBS” instead of sending these valuable resources to places like China where most all of the USA’s recycled PET is now being shipped since they have cheaper labor.
The whole plastic industry can rework their standards for 100% recycling. Products can be designed so that all parts of the used product can be recovered.
What is most important is that we all start helping now by not choose products we know are adding to the problem such as plastic and styrofoam. Bring a reusable shopping bag to avoid needing a plastic one, and don’t use straws, one use lighters, or napkins when not necessary. Napkins are the biggest cause of paper waste in the fast food industry and straws can end up in the ocean and are not needed most of the time.
Reusables are where its at wherever and whenever you can. Companies like ReUseIt are trying to make it easier. Think about volunteering to help pick up coastline trash. Our coastlines help collect trash so we can collect the most for the least amount of effort. Think before you buy something and question how recyclable it is or if you can avoid packaging, especially plastic! Choose sustainable seafood, and question where it’s coming from.
We don’t want more marine animals and birds to suffer, or for Captain Moore to have an even a bigger plastic island to walk on when he makes his next research expedition. Support Algalita, they need funding for their research and our future for a healthy, clean ocean. Hear the whole interview here: https://youtu.be/
Elaine McFadden, MPH, RD