Thursday, March 18, 2010

Toxic Garbage Island the size of Texas?!

Has anyone heard of a supposed garbage island that exists in the Pacific Ocean? Different accounts of the island state that its the size of Texas. Some even claim its twice the size of Texas. Alarming? Yes. But I particularly took an interest in this 'garbage island' because, for the first time, the toll our environment is taking from our trash finally hit home for me. You see, I have a deep affinity for the waters. Surfing is my favorite sport. I've even had some unplanned amazing opportunities to swim with wild dolphins in the ocean. I refuse to live away from the coast.

Naturally, I wondered how bad this garbage island really was. VBS TV did a fabulous video-journalistic report where they actually spent a week sailing out to this 'island'. There are three video segments: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Each clip is about 25 minutes long so if you want to make the time to watch them, its definitely worth it.

But here's the cliff notes version. My first assumption was that it was a literal island of garbage visible on approach in the middle of the Northern Gyre. If its the size of Texas, is shouldn't be hard to miss. But the situation is SO much worse. The garbage isn't visible. The garbage has become microscopic making it impossible to clean up. Plastic is the main culprit. Over time, the plastic is no longer able to hold its shape and breaks down into tiny confetti-like fragments. These tiny pieces are not biodegradable and pollute the ocean to microscopic levels, producing poisonous levels of toxins into the environment. And this trash has now entered the food chain....meaning that we end up eating our own trash.

Needless to say, I find this very disturbing and burdening. The situation seems hopeless. But there has to be a solution, right?

Any thoughts? For now, I'm placing the burden on myself to take responsibility to reduce the use and waste of plastics. What are some things you do and/or plan on doing?

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