Sep 032014

Did you know that every piece of plastic that has ever been produced still exists today?  The more I ponder that statement, the heavier it weighs on me.

I’ve long known that plastic is bad for marine ecosystems.  That’s why I stopped purchasing water in plastic bottles years ago.  I bring my own bags to the grocery store.  I don’t let the clerk give me a bag when buying just a small item or two.  I dutifully snip the rings that hold a 6-pack together.  I recycle.  I even participate in underwater clean-ups.  And yet, after reading Captain Charles Moore’s book “Plastic Ocean”, I don’t think I’m doing nearly enough.

While on a sailing voyage from Hawaii to California in 1997, Captain Moore, after deviating from his normal route, noticed that he was sailing through water resembling a “plastic soup”.  This area in the North Pacific Ocean was subsequently dubbed the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch.

Map Showing the Pacific Garbage Patches, Captain Moore discovers the Eastern patch

NOAA Map Showing the Pacific Garbage Patches, Captain Moore discovers the Eastern patch

Astounded, and deeply concerned by what he had witnessed, Captain Moore has since dedicated his life to studying, researching and ultimately fighting against plastic pollution via his foundation Algalita Marine Research Institute.

“Plastic Ocean” has just given me a much needed education about plastics, their history and their impact on our oceans.  The facts are sobering.  This is not a small problem.  This is a huge problem!  And as a society, we continue to ignore it.  Out of sight, out of mind…

"Marine debris on Hawaiian coast" photo by NOAA

“Marine debris on Hawaiian coast” photo by NOAA

I urge you to read the book, and then decide for yourself if you are doing enough to help curb our plastic addiction.  And in the meantime, here’s a 10 minute short film called Synthetic Sea which profiles Captain Moore’s quest.


Links for further reading

Plastics are Forever Brochure

Plastic Debris from Rivers to Sea Brochure

Research Paper – Density of Plastic Particles Found in Zooplankton Trawls from Coastal Waters of California to the North Pacific Central Gyre

My Plastic Free Life

NOAA Marine Debris


Donate to Algalita Marine Research Institue to help stop plastic pollution.


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