Ocean garbage

Image courtesy of epSos .de on Flickr

America has developed a nasty habit. We have become a throw away society. But what many people don’t know is that our poor habits are killing sea life. Did you know that our ocean contains large patches of garbage? The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to be bigger than the size of Texas. Most of the trash contains broken up pieces of plastic.

I recently watched a TED-Ed video called “Captain Charles Moore on the seas of plastic.” I have seen terrible things, terrible things I tell you. I encourage you to watch the short video yourself, but if you are to take one thing away, remember one of his quotes, “Only we humans make waste that nature can’t digest.” I share with you key points from his talk. If you can share this knew knowledge with others, consider it doing some good in the world. After all, positive world change can occur simply through education.

Although the U.S. produces much plastic, little of it is actually recycled. Plastics are difficult to recycle and they do not biodegrade. Every year, us humans produce 100 billion pounds of thermoplastic pellets. About half of these thermoplastics pellets result in trash, part of which will end up in the ocean. Given this, you will be surprised to know that in the U.S., two million plastic bottles are used every five minutes. Now those ocean garbage patches aren’t so surprising are they?

The film showed a few photos of dead wildlife affected by plastics, which are too disturbing to post on this site. The images were of baby Albatross and their stomach contents. These creatures died from plastic bottle caps and cigarette lighters in their stomachs. Their mothers, while foraging, mistaken floating bottle caps for food.

Interesting to learn, small pieces of plastic concentrate persistent organic pollutants up to a million times their levels in surrounding ocean waters. In other words, the damage that we see with our eyes only scrapes the surface of the actual damage that is occurring in our oceans.

To learn more about this topic, I encourage you to watch Charles Moore’s seven minute talk; his contributions in combating this issue of plastics are quite inspiring.