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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

September 14th, 2009 · No Comments

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and may contain as much as 1 million plastic particles per square mile.

Out of sight, out of mind – that’s the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to most of us. But this floating ocean dump covering millions of square miles of the Pacific is no less real than the computer mouse you’re holding right now, reading this article. It’s out there, slowly constricting ocean life, and we all contributed to it.

What is it? Where is it?

Also described as the Eastern Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area of the northern Pacific Ocean that’s estimated to contain as much as 1 million plastic particles (in some portions of the affected area) per square mile. The patch is believed to be twice the size of Texas, and was formed gradually over time from land debris (80%) and ship trash (20%) drawn and boxed off by ocean current’s in this region.

Cleaning up this gargantuan pile of floating garbage is not something one government or country can do. The cost is simply too enormous for any single country to shoulder. It’s a collective problem, the solution lies in multi-lateral action among nations. Multi-lateral. That’s one big word, one tall order, considering the current shape we’re all in.

What can we do?

It’s not the solution, but it’s a big help – let’s stop this garbage patch from growing any further by recycling all our plastic. A single plastic bottle cap, saved from being dumped in the ocean, is insignificant, in the face of the enormity of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But, if enough people around the world do it, we just might have more than a fighting chance.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch on Wikipedia
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch on Flickr

Tags: Environment