The Plastic Island

In 1997 Charles Moore, a sailor and heir to an oil fortune discovered what has since been known as “the plastic Island”.

Moore was on his way home from a yacht race and sailed into the plastic island when he decided to take a shortcut over the North Pacific Gyre. The swirling underwater currents in the area makes dispose from the surrounding coastlines gather in one area. He was horrified by the vast reaches of what appeared to be rubbish consisting mainly of plastic floating around in the North Pacific Ocean. For days his sailboat was surrounded by rubbish. Moore sold his business interests and changed the focus of his foundation Algalita Marine Research Foundation to being devoted solely to research on the impact of plastic pollution on the marine environment and protecting the oceans from pollution. What a hero!

The plastic Island stretches from Hawaii almost all the way to Japan. The size of the area could be about twice the size of the American continent and the depth is up to 10 metres! But why is it there?

Plastic-polymers are not biodegradable. This means that when you put plastic in the rubbish bin it does not disappear, it simply changes location and is subsequently slowly broken into smaller pieces that pollute the environment and the creatures living on land and in the sea. The plastic that is manufactured does not only consist of plastic polymers, but also additives that leak out from the plastic and becomes an unnatural and potentially hazardous part of the metabolism of the creatures that ingest the plastic.

How to save the world from the plastic island

Plastic is used in all sorts of disposable material: plastic cups, carrier bags, food containers and so forth. As consumers, we are responsible for what we buy and dispose of. Here are some simple things YOU can do to save the world from the plastic Island:

  • Use other materials When you have the choice between putting your goods in a plastic bag or a paper bag in the shop, pick paper! Some places they even offer bio-degradable “plastic” bags made from corn starch.
  • Reuse plastic: The plastic containers from Far east take-away can be used as lunch boxes and instead of buying a new bottle of water every day, refill the bottle with tap water. If you stop by Starbucks every day before work for a Frappe, get one of these reusable babies:

You can use them again and again and it keeps your drink cool

  • Recycle plastic: It is crucial to the environment and the survival of the planet that people start recycling plastic. Plastic can be made into new stuff, like furniture, toys and other things.
  • Make others aware: Awareness à Care à Action = saving the planet





3 Responses to “The Plastic Island”

  1. 1 Karl Rohrer
    July 15, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    There’s another one in the north Atlantic, too. And there was a photo essay about the Pacific that has some samples shown here http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2009/nov/11/chris-jordan/

    If you can, use cloth bags instead of both paper and plastic. But if you do continue to get plastic bags, or have a bunch around the house, there are lots of crafty things one can do with plastic bags to reuse them in novel ways. http://www.instructables.com/id/Plastic-Bags/

    Using glass instead of plastic cups and aluminum cans (get beer in bottles!) is also a good idea, glass is more reusable and less energy intensive to create and recycle.

    Buy things with less packaging, buy food from a farmer’s market (local food won’t have a lot of packaging and is more eco friendly in a bunch of ways) (also helps support local farmers instead of big production farms)

    ahh…I could go on

  2. July 26, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Very interesting! It’s important to take care of the environment 🙂

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