THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH
Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Diving into a sea of garbage.
It's hard to imagine that behind some of our most beautiful is a patch of plastic bigger than the state of Texas.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch can be found between Hawaii and California. This is the greatest plastic mass in water, but it's not the only one. There is an estimated five plastic garbage patches in different water sources throughout the world.
I think about how many times I have walked at the beach and found plastic water bottles, plastic bags, or food wrappers... and these islands begin to make sense. I see the beginning of it at our local beaches.
THE BAD NEWS
"Worldwide, more than 800 species of marine life have been harmed by debris, with impacts that include injury, illness and death," writes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
When ingested, marine debris can fill up an animals stomach and be stuck inside. This makes it difficult to consume nutritious food they may need.
Other harmful effects include entanglement in debris, or damage of the natural habitat.
IT'S OUR RESPONSIBILITY
The weight of the Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to be that of 500 jumbo jets, or approximately 80,000 tonnes (The Ocean Cleanup, 2018). Although this is the largest amount of human made trash in one place, plastics and micro-plastics have been found in other sources of water throughout the world.
In the Great Lakes of North America, micro-plastics were found in an alarming rate. These tiny bits of plastics found in skin exfoliants and soaps are able to wash through the drains and end up in our rivers, lakes and ocean.
In water, micro-plastics can look like food to marine life. So if a fish were to ingest these plastics and then we eat the fish, these micro-plastics end up inside of us.
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
If you want to enjoy beautiful beaches, aspire to sail in the ocean, scuba dive or take a catamaran, it is much better without seeing an old plastic Pepsi bottle.
Whether it is just you, a group of friends, or an organized event, taking care of our beaches can be fun and the impacts are incredible. One simple way to do this, is to clean up after yourself next time you go to the beach. It can be easy to forget items as you leave, so double check that you have everything and make sure it is thrown out properly.
REDUCE SINGLE USE PLASTIC
There are so many ways to reduce plastic use! One of my favorite things to do, is go to a local farmers market and pre pack fruits and veggies for the day. So when you go to the beach, consider bringing your own water bottle and snacks from home. This allows you to have fresh produce without the plastic impact!
TALK ABOUT IT
There are so many people who still do not know about the amount of plastic that goes into our ecosystem. It is important to talk about it, spread the word and share ways that you can support our beaches, oceans and marine life.
The last thing you want to see when you are in a beautiful landscape is garbage around you. When we invade our ocean with plastics, we are limiting our environment and our own options for traveling to scenic clean places. You have the power to help our ocean be cleaner and reduce the amount of waste that goes into it. I hope you take this to heart and consider changes you can make.