Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Trash Vortex

What's the saying...water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink. That is currently becoming the evolving story behind many of the islands and marine life that are part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

To put it in simple terms, plastic outweighs surface zooplankton six to one in the North Pacific gyre. There is more debris and junk out there than you can imagine and it is killing birds, fish and anything that swims near it. Somewhat like the blob, but worse and real!

How does all of this happen? When a plastic cup or container is thrown on the beach it gets caught in the California Current, (for example) which travels down the coast toward Central America, perhaps off the coast of Mexico to connect with the North Equatorial Current, which flows toward Asia. Off the coast of Japan, the Kuroshio Current could push it eastward again, until the North Pacific Current takes over and carries it past Hawaii to the garbage patch. These are the oceans currents that make up the North Pacific Gyre - the ultimate garbage vortex.

Now granted it takes years, decades actually, for such an amount of debris to accumulate. However, is it really that hard to imagine given we consume billions of plastic items each day? Think about it. Our coffee cups, containers, fittings, caps, pop bottles, grocery bags, plastic forks from picnics and cafeteria lunches, breakfast yogurts, workout bottles, etc. Plastic is everywhere! And not every manufacturer can afford to incoporate the use of biopolymers and biodegradeable products.

Sources: Wikipedia, National Geographic, Moore, Best Life Online

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