How Would You Like to Vacation on a Plastic Island?
Right around this time of year millions of people across the world are heading to the beaches for a summer vacation to enjoy the sand and splash around in the water. Maybe you are even one of them? If the answer is yes, here is something to think about:
Did you know that the water in our oceans is becoming more and more polluted by plastic garbage floating around and getting caught in the circulating ocean currents, or gyres? Plastic trash that ends up in the oceans has in fact created several floating garbage islands, often referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, GPGP, (and its Atlantic and Indian Ocean counterparts).
The GPGP is estimated to be at least twice the size of Texas, if not larger. It is so difficult to measure its true size because non-biodegradable as they are, plastics merely disintegrate into polymers, all the way down to the atomic level, and are therefore hard to detect even with satellite pictures. This produces a slush, or plastic soup, that is suspended in the upper water column. Plastics are built to last forever, and in the oceans they do just that. Along the way, these tiny particles of plastic, often containing toxic chemicals themselves, absorb other toxins from their surroundings – and eventually end up in the food chain or kill marine animals as they choke on the plastics.
Long story short, humans are causing tremendous pollution in our oceans and along the coastlines. It is estimated that about 80% of the plastic garbage in the oceans stems from land-based sources.
Therefore, when you go to the beach this summer, be sure to clean up after yourself, or perhaps even pick up a piece of trash that someone else has left behind. More importantly, recycling plastics would make a huge difference! We currently recycle only about 3-5% of all the plastics we use. Being a little more conscientious about such seemingly little things can have an enormous impact on improving our environment. This is why we invite you to register your Act of Green on our A Billion Acts of Green website. We can all work easily toward a cleaner and more beautiful environment – and get more out of our summer beach vacation!
Christine Hoguet - Earth Day Network Intern