Trash Island

12 Oct

My husband came home from work a few weeks ago, discussing a news article he had read while at work.  It was about trash.  Initially, I wondered why he wanted to talk about trash over dinner.  Once he finished explaining to me to that there is a literal island of trash roughly TWO times the state of Texas in the Pacific Ocean, I couldn’t believe it.  Then, I freaked out.  I obsessed.  I had to know more.

I Googled photographs online.  I read news articles like this one in the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/10/science/10patch.html.  I viewed scientific documentaries on YouTube.  It was real.  Not a joke.

Due to the way the currents flow in the Pacific Ocean, the water traps the garbage and forms an island of sorts.  80% of the island is composed of plastic.  Scientists estimate the garbage pile weighs about 3.5 million tons.  Having this information made me sick.  I was sick and outraged at the same time.

Most people are familiar with Newton’s Law of Motion, which states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  We are basically eating our own crap and I don’t mean that metaphorically.  Plastics get broken down just enough to look like plankton.  The plastic bits are eaten by smaller organisms, which in turn are eaten by larger, and on up the food chain it goes, until it’s on your very plate and you are ingesting all of the wonderful chemicals that make plastics so great in the modern world.  In addition to it contaminating our human food, it entangles animals, like sea turtles who are on the endangered species list.  A mass of trash like this further prevents sunlight from getting underneath the ocean, which is causing additional troubles for our oceans plants and creature friends.

Evidently the mass is so big it cannot be cleaned up.  That’s the saddest part.  The best thing we can do as individuals is to make sure we reduce, reuse, and recycle.  I have purchased cloth bags, don’t drink water out of plastic bottles, reduced the number of food items I purchase which contain plastic packaging, I recycle those I can’t live without, I give things away I don’t use instead of throwing it in the trash, and I’ve even been known to pick up plastic crap at the park (my kids will help me) and toss it in the car to add it to our recycle bin at home.  I’ve thought about going so far as not purchase any new toys for my kids.  Kids on the prairie were happy with corn stalk dolls.  Maybe my kids could use their ingenuity more if they actually had to use their mind and think of ways to keep entertained.

Everyone must take part in a bigger effort and the time is now.  If we do not properly care for our planet, it will not sustain our grandchildren’s grandchildren.  They’ll wind up obese, not able to walk, living on spaceships, drinking their food from a cup just like in the movie Wall-E.  I shudder to think that could become a reality.

What are you doing to reduce, reuse, and recycle?  A friend’s mother recycles plastic bags by crocheting then into these really cute re-useable totes/bags: http://www.therepurposedwoman.blogspot.com/

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5 Responses to “Trash Island”

  1. Anne October 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    We shop at a local store that sells a lot of products by letting you bring in your own reusable containers and fill them up. Cereal, pasta, rice, spices, baking ingredients, peanut butter, honey, laundry soap, dish soap, shampoo, etc. We just walk in there with our canvas bags filled with our empty containers. Awkward, but everyone else there is doing it so we just go slow and stick with it. Don’t put fruits and veggies in plastic bags to weigh and bring home, just keep them loose in a canvas bag. Essentially, we are focusing hard on the Reducing packaging and Reusing food containers. If we come home from shopping and have dozens of peices of packaging that will immediately or later end up as trash/recycling, then we did something wrong.

    • Jen October 12, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

      I’ve heard of that place – what’s it called? I think it’s only in Austin so far, but hopefully it will catch on. I would definitely shop there!

      I try to avoid convenience packages of things to pack my kids lunches – I try to buy a large bag or carton or box of something and just pack servings in reusable containers. It takes longer, but I hate having a bunch of stuff to throw away. Plus, it really is more cost-effective that way. You pay way more buying individually wrapped items.

  2. Anne October 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Great topic gals, so important! Good idea, Jen. Braun is a stickler for that, too. Every now and then I buy him a bunch of little raisin boxes or pretzel bags to take in his Daddy Bag, and he lectures me (nicely) about the waste of money and extra trash. He likes to take a reusable container or bag of mixed snacks from our pantry. Man, when we go to my sister’s house, it’s like easy snack paradise, there are juice boxes and little gatoraides miniature soda cans and tiny bags of chips and cookies and all this stuff that we never have! I admit I go crazy on the tiny individually portioned snacks and drinks there, too. But yea, so wasteful. Hope she doesn’t read this.

  3. Martha Mattison October 15, 2011 at 12:39 am #

    This MAY be the same island of trash from the Japanese tsunami. All that crap washed out to sea and is expected to start landing on the shores of California in the next year or two. Gross!

  4. Lisa October 17, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    I had no idea! So distressing on so many levels.

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