Monday, October 26, 2009

The World's Biggest Landfill

Boaties dump it overboard. Kids sail it down stormwater drains. Picnickers leave it on beaches. Then it's forgotten...outta sight, outta mind. But the 20th Century wonder, plastic, is never gone completely.
Yeup, that's it...right there...our mess. Great!Over the years, plastic products that've floated out into the oceans have been gradually drawn together by the world's currents, to form an enormous swirling mass of plastic in the Pacific Ocean. It's known variously as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, North Pacific Gyre, Trash Vortex, and Plastic Graveyard - and has now grown to twice the size of Continental USA! Sounds too incredible to be true, yet the plastic mass can be seen from space, as this satellite pic shows.
turtle choking on plastic bagPlastic waste is one of the most significant sources of marine pollution, making up 90% of all floating debris. Bottles, bags, balloons, net name it, it's out there, and a real problem for marine wildlife. Whales have been found starved to death with throats blocked by plastic buckets. Turtles feast on plastic bags, thinking they're jellyfish. Diving seabirds have been strangled by 6-pack beer can collars.
The plastic is also churned into smaller pieces as it swirls about, and then consumed by fish. The chemicals in the plastic enter the food chain, and we eventually consume tasty carcinogens like DDT and PCBs!
To help document The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the marine research and education organisation Algalita built a boat from recycled plastic bottles (15-20,000!) and sailed it from California to Hawaii. Click here for a slideshow of the Garbage Patch and a clip......or here for the video clip alone.
Many NZers actively recycle plastics, so what more can we do? Avoid supermarket plastic by using your own bags. Write to your local MP (a real letter looks so much better than an email), requesting initiatives that encourage industry to move into recycling - and penalise those that can but won't. Praise companies using recyclable plastic packaging. Choose products that're packaged in glass or recyclable plastic (Grades 1 and 2: look for the little triangle code on the package).
Reduce - reuse - recycle - respect.
Or not give a damn: it's up to you.
PS: - See also my post of 24 April 2010 for more details and links...

1 comment:

BeatnikKeri said...

Thank you SO much for your insight on garbage and the crisis' of the world! Most people play the it's out of sight it's out of mind game which is doing more harm than anything to our precious planet. People need to wake up! With more people like you in the world maybe we can wake more up! I loved reading your blog. As a 'green child' I applaud you for you honesty. Thank you!