Friday, July 31, 2009
Northern Pacific Gyre or Our Trash Bin
For those of you who do not know what the the Northern Pacific Gyre is let me enlighten you. In the Pacific Ocean there is a large section of the ocean that has no sea currents, it is considered a "dead zone." The surrounding ocean currents force any debris in the ocean into this area resembling a type of gravitational pull. This is how it became known by its many names such as the Worlds Largest Rubbish Dump; The Pacific Plastic Soup and the Northern Pacific Garbage Patch. The "Garbage Patch" is estimated to be TWICE the size of the continental US.
Seeing that plastic is made to essentially never break down, it begins to break away into pieces so although it may not retain the shape of your Coca-Cola bottle you purchased today it is essentially the same amount of plastic that it began as. This is what is happening in the Gyre, these plastics are breaking off into pieces and hovering below the surface of the water where unsuspecting creatures who mistake a plastic bag for a Jelly Fish or small plastic chips for plankton consume it. These fish are then consumed by larger animals if they don't already die from the plastics and then those larger fish make it onto our family dinner tables. Yummy! It is estimated that there is 13 lbs. of plastic in this area for every one pound of plankton. Since this "problem" lies in international waters no countries government feels responsible for the problem and cleaning efforts are scarce.
I am not urging you to hop on a boat and start picking up plastic, but to take this as a reminder that even though we don't see the impact of our actions all the time they are catching up with us.
Take this into consideration with your consumer power, buy glass packaged products instead; research companies environmental efforts before giving them your money; try to consume less and know that when you liter it makes its way through our gutters to our rivers into our oceans.
Check out Project Kaisei and there attempt at "Capturing the Plastic Vortex."
Your efforts will pay off.