The Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch
Discover the Growing Island of Garbage in the Pacific Ocean
Several years ago I got a wake-up call watching an Earth Day show on Oprah. I was surprised to discover there is a large floating island of garbage, twice the size of Texas somewhere between the West Coast and Japan. This moving ocean garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean is the largest garbage dump on the planet.
Scientists estimated that this island of garbage may contain over 100 million tons of debris with 80% of the garbage coming from land-based sources and 20% from trash tossed by ships at sea.
The garbage is washing up on our beaches, killing our wildlife and impacting our food chain.
If you already know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch then take a look with what you can do about the garbage patch ways to reduce, recycle and reuse your trash in the "15 Ways to Minimize Your Impact on the Garbage Island" section.
If you don't know about the Great Garbage Patch, watch a couple of the videos from experts and news reports on the topic, then take a look at what you can do about reducing your impact on the Garbage Island.
This is one of those topics where the images really tell the story better than words.
Image from Jrockley. Marine Debris on Hawaii Coast. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Plastic is 100% nonbiodegradable.
The Garbage Patch
Over 7 million tons of plastic spanning an area twice the size of Texas is destroying our oceans and harming our food chains.
Oprah on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
This is the most shocking thing I have seen.
A SHOCKING video!
Vote on the Pacific Garbage Patch
Did you know there is Growing Island of Garbage in the Pacific Ocean?
Oprah's Look at the The World's Biggest Landfill
- The World's Biggest Landfill - Ocean Pollution - Oprah.com
Scientists believe the world's largest garbage dump isn't on land, it's in the Pacific Ocean
- The Plastiki's Risky Voyage - Oprah.com
British explorer David de Rothschild sets sail on a boat made of 12,500 plastic bottles and other recycled materials.
- The Plastiki on the High Seas - Oprah.com
The Plastiki on the high seas of the Pacific Ocean.
- Find Your Environmental Cause and Start Fighting - Oprah.com
Aboard the Plastiki, a ship made of 12,500 recycled plastic bottles, British explorer David de Rothschild reflects on making positive global changes.
- Resources to Help You Go Green - Oprah.com
Use these websites, organizations and books to start making a difference in our environment.
Too Much Trash, Not Being Recycled Quote
People in the United States are producing over 25 million tons of plastics each year!
Only a small fraction of the trash is getting recycled.
Image from Microsoft Clipart
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch - North Pacific Gyre
Image from Wikimedia. North Pacific Gyre World Map.
What is a Gyre?
Two definition of a Gyre:
A circular or spiral form; a vortex:
A circular or spiral motion, especially a circular ocean current.
A spiral oceanic surface current driven primarily by the global wind system and constrained by the continents surrounding the three ocean basins.
Drift of Ocean Pollution in the Pacific Trash Vortex
Image of Pacific trash vortex showing drift of ocean pollution from Green Peace.
Our Lifeblood Quote
The oceans are our lifeblood.
Protect the seas, we protect ourselves.
Plastiki: Across the Pacific on Plastic
Read about David de Rothschild extraordinary journey to save the ocean with the Plastiki, an innovative sixty-foot catamaran that floats on 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles.
We're All Attached Quote
When one tugs at a single thing in nature,
he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
Marine Debris Music Video
NOAA's video on marine debris removal in the northwestern hawaiian islands and the Anacostia River.
Trash and Garbage are Filling the Oceans
Trash on the Spin Cycle Video
Jean-Michel Cousteau and his team sail into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch while shooting Voyage to Kure as part of Ocean Adventures for PBS.
More on Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Adventures
- Jean-Michel Cousteau : Ocean Adventures | PBS
In the PBS series, Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures, take a voyage to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, learn about why sharks are at risk.
- Jean-Michel Cousteau : Ocean Adventures . Video | PBS
Jean-Michel Cousteau and his team sail into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch while shooting Voyage to Kure as part of Ocean Adventures for PBS.
- Jean-Michel Cousteau : Ocean Adventures . Debris Dilemmas Lesson Plan | PBS
Discover what causes huge quantities of garbage to end up on the most remote islands in the world and how this garbage affects wildlife. Accompanies the Web video "Trash on the Spin Cycle".
Books on Rubbish and Trash Amazon
We All Need to Protect the Oceans Quote
The ocean belongs to all of us, but there's no single entity or no single nation that's there to protect it.
We need to be able to network and really all care about it and all protect the oceans.
Floating Trash of the Pacific Garbage Gyre
This image of floating garbage of ocean debris has become associated with the North Pacific Gyre Garbage has become one of the standard photographs used. I am still searching for the original source of this image to give the photographer credit.
Flotsam and Jetsom
Debris on a Beach
Image from Wikimedia. M. Buschmann.
Debris on a Beach. Released under the GNU Free Documentation License for use.
What is Flotsam and Jetsam?
The phrase flotsam and jetsam is used to describe specific kinds of debris floating in the ocean or objects washed to shore.
In maritime law, flotsam applies to wreckage or cargo left floating on the sea after a shipwreck. Jetsam applies to cargo or equipment thrown overboard from a ship in distress and either sunk or washed ashore.
Books on Flotsam and Jetsam
Plastic is Replacing the Plankton Quote
There is six times as much plastic
in the gyre than there is plankton.
Remnants of an Albatross Chick
Albatross Chick with Plastic from Duncan Wright, USFWS. Public Domain.
The Deadly Impact of Trash on the Wildlife
Animals mistake this waste for food dying either from plastic poisoning or blockage of their digestive system.
Garbage Island Video
CNN's news clip of 'Garbage Island', a floating garbage island that is twice the size of Texas.
Watch this video and see why it matters to you whether you live on the west coast OR the east coast.
A Trash Pool
Image of Trash Pool from Daniel Johnson under Creative Commons
Pacific Garbage Dump - Nightline Video
Great Pacific Garbage Dump is a graveyard of toxic plastic from Nightline
The Waste Crisis: Landfills, Incinerators, and the Search for a Sustainable Future on Amazon
The Waste Crisis is a good book for those who are concerned about the growing problems of waste management.
Author Hans Tammemagi analyzes waste management in a broader societal context and to propose solutions based on basic principles. He encourages readers to challenge commonly held perceptions and to seek new and better ways of dealing with waste.
More about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or North Pacific Gyre
- Garbage Island spawns documentary - Green Daily
Aug 27, 2008 ... You've probably heard of Garbage Island before. It's that Texas-sized patch of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean just north of Hawaii. ...
- Giant garbage patch floating in Pacific
Oct 22, 2007 ... I have to admit that (at least to me) the description of garbage as an "enormous island of trash" doesn't really lend itself to much else ...
- Garbage Island in Pacific Gyre | ParkHowell.com
Garbage Island, the Trash Vortex, or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one of the most disturbing examples of consumer waste and plastics damaging our ...
- WikiAnswers - How large is the floating island of garbage that ...
Oct 19, 2007 ... Environmental Issues question: How large is the floating island of garbage that collects in the middle of the ocean? 10 mile wide island of ...
- The Island of Garbage | Planetizen
Full Story: Garbage Island. Source: VBS, April 7, 2008. Â» Login or register to post comments; Email this page. Related News Stories ...
- An Island of Garbage in the Pacific OCean - Vox
Feb 13, 2008 ... about an area of floating plastic waste twice the size of the United States in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
- Following Algalita's "Junk" to the North Pacific Gyre : TreeHugger
Apr 13, 2008 ... Everybody seems to want a piece of the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch,' a huge pile of plastic and trash (twice the size of the continental ...
- The Great Pacific Garbage Gyre - a knol by Tom Hunter
Aug 9, 2008 ... After you see this thing called the Great Pacific Garbage Gyre and what it actually contains, you will never be the...
- Plastic Is Forever In The North Pacific Gyre - Great Pacific ...
By now most of us have heard about the horrendous mountain of plastic swirling around in the North Pacific Gyre (aka the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" or ...
- North Pacific Gyre and plastic pollution
An article detailing the harm to marine life from the Plastic in the North Pacific Gyre.
- The world's rubbish dump: a garbage tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan
A "plastic soup" of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States from the Independent.
- World waterways awash in trash
Nearly 7 million pounds of debris was collected from waterways and shorelines around the world during a single day last year, illustrating that careless people are discarding trash just about everywhere, with much of it eventually finding an aquatic
- 7 million pounds of debris collected in world's waterways
Nearly seven million pounds of debris was collected from waterways and shorelines around the world during a single day last year, illustrating that careless people are discarding trash that eventually finds an aquatic home, according to a report rele
- Are There Really 'Continents' of Floating Garbage?
Since stories have started surfacing more recently, many have wondered, if the rumors are true. Are there really 'continents', or massive floating garbage patches residing in the pacific ocean? Apparently, the rumors are true...
- Floating rubbish dump 'bigger than US'
IT has been described as the world's largest rubbish dump, or the Pacific plastic soup, and it is starting to alarm scientists from News.com.au.
The Ocean Conservancy promotes healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems and opposes practices that threaten ocean life and human life. They are starting a sea change.
Through research, education, and science-based advocacy, Ocean Conservancy informs, inspires, and empowers people to speak and act on behalf of the oceans. In all its work, Ocean Conservancy strives to be the world's foremost advocate for the oceans.
If you are interested in doing more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and helping reduce the impact of all of the trash being produced, consider joining the Ocean Conservancy.
After learning about this giant garbage mess, I decided to join the Ocean Conservancy out of my concern for the future of the oceans.
Organizations Working to Save the Ocean
- Ocean Conservancy - Start a Sea Change
Ocean Conservancy promotes healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems and opposes practices that threaten ocean life and human life. Through research, education, and science-based advocacy, Ocean Conservancy informs, inspires, and empowers people to speak
- Fabien Cousteau - The Adventure of Discovery
Born with adventure in his blood, Fabien Cousteau, son of Jean Michel Cousteau and grandson of Jacques Yves Cousteau (the legendary father of SCUBA diving), started his underwater life practicing buddy-breathing (on scuba) with a family friend for hi
- NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere. It plays several distinct roles within the Department of Commerce.
- Algalita Marine Research Foundation - Marine Research, Education and Restoration
Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF) is a Long Beach, California-based non-profit marine research and education organization. AMRF is a registered 501c(3) organization and all contributions are tax deductible.
- Jean-Michel Cousteau : Ocean Adventures | PBS
In the PBS series, Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures, take a voyage to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, learn about why sharks are at risk, follow along with a gray whale as it navigates an obstacle course along its migration, explore the Nati
- Monterey Bay Aquarium: Save the Oceans - Center for the Future of the Oceans
The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Center for the Future of the Oceans initiative is aimed at inspiring action for conservation of the oceans.
How to Minimize the Garbage Island
The Problem - Thousands of Bottles
Image of Trash by Ismael Franco
15 Ways to Minimize Your Impact on the Garbage Island
By throwing out trash we have all contributed to this mess and it will take everyone working together to stop it from getting worse. We need to rethink how we are using plastic and creating trash and start living a more ocean-friendly lifestyle.
This list of ways to minimize your impact on the Garbage Island come from three organizations working on cleaning up the trash in our oceans, Algalita Marine Research Foundation, Ocean Conservancy and GreenPeace.
Algalita Marine Research Foundation. What You Can Do About Plastic Pollution.
GreenPeace. Trashing Our Oceans: What You can Do
Ocean Conservancy. Living Responsibly.
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Be conscious of all that you buy, reduce what you can. Avoid products with excessive packaging, especially in disposable products. Recycle what you can, including all recyclable plastics.
- Buy items in bulk with less packaging.
Avoid individually wrapped food servings. Look for earth-friendly options.
- Give up plastic grocery bags.
Bring your own reusable tote bags when buying groceries and say "no" to plastic bags.
- Don't buy plastic sandwich bags.
Use wax paper, cloth napkins or reusable sandwich boxes.
- Stop Using Bottled Water.
Take drinking water from the tap in aluminum containers. Get a filter for your water if needed.
- Buy Durable not Disposable.
Durable is better than disposable; more throwaways means less landfill space and more marine debris.
- Buy items made of recycled materials.
Also buy items that can be recycled in your community.
- Buy food that is produced locally.
Transporting food over great distances uses more energy.
- Pick up litter and dispose of it properly..
- Demand more and better recycling facilities in your area.
If your city or county does not have curbside recycling encourage them to do so. If they do, encourage them to look at better ways of recycling more trash.
- Take Part in a Local Clean Up.
Take part in local stream, river and beach cleanups. While these clean-ups don't solve the problem, they are a good way of drawing attention to the greater problem offshore.
- Watch the Storm Drains.
If you live near the ocean, or a river that drains into it, your storm drains are probably washing garbage right out to sea. Be conscious of this and any other potential sources of marine litter in your area.
- Become more Mindful of your Plastic Consumption and Trash Production.
Conscious consumption, being more mindful of your consumption is good for you and for the planet.
- Be very conscious of your ecological footprint.
Living an ocean-friendly lifestyle by taking actions that benefit oceans and marine life.
- Do not accept the current paradigm of use and waste.
Encourage change though your decisions and your votes.
Links with More on What You Can Do
- What You Can Do About Plastic Pollution
Plastic bags and bottles, like all forms of plastic, create significant environmental and economic burdens. They consume growing amounts of energy and other natural resources, degrading the environment in numerous ways.
- Trashing our oceans | Defending our Oceans
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is currently cruising into one of world's largest trash vortexes, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes referred to as the North Pacific garbage patch, this vortex is the epicenter of a system currents and winds
- 10 Steps to a Healthy Ocean: Protecting our Oceans from Pollution
The Practical Environmentalist offers 10 steps you can take to protect our oceans from pollution.
Reduce Using Plastics
The 10 Most Common Ocean Debris Items Worldwide
Nearly 400,000 volunteers at 6,485 sites in 104 countries and 42 U.S. states picked up trash along the world's ocean and waterways on a single day in September 2008.
These volunteers collected 7 million pounds of debris collected in world's waterways including 1,362,741 cigarette butts in the United States; 19,504 fishing nets in the United Kingdom; and 11,077 diapers in the Philippines
The 10 most common debris items found worldwide were ranked during the Ocean Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup in September 2008.
The Top 10 Trash items, including how many of each were found:
- Cigarettes and filters, 3,216,991
- Plastic bags, 1,377,141
- Food wrappers and containers, 942,620
- Caps and lids, 937,804
- Plastic bottles, 714,892
- Paper bags, 530,607
- Straws and stirrers, 509,593
- Cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons, 441,053
- Glass bottles, 434,990
- Drink cans, 401,412
Simple Ways to Reduce Using Plastics
According to the Ocean Conservancy the 10 items picked up during their International Coastal Cleanup have remained the same over the past five years. Two of those items are plastic bags and plastic bottles.
Knowing this there are two very simple ways to help reduce using plastic:
- Don't buy bottled water
- . Instead filter your own and use aluminum or steel water reusable bottles.
- Don't use plastic bags
- . Use reusable tote bag. Each reusable bag uses can potentially eliminate hundreds, if not thousands, of plastic bags over its lifetime.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: An Easy Household Guide in the Amazon Spotlight
The Chelsea Green Guides is a new series of pocket-sized books written to help save the earth.
This easy-to-use guide has answers to all your recycling questions. Its A-Z listing of everyday household items shows you how to recycle most of your unwanted things, do your bit for the planet, and maybe make a little money at the same time.
Use Reusable Laken Water Bottles
Use Reusable Tote Bags
Some of my favorite reusable bags as family sets.
Fun bags for the kids
Reuse Plastics and Trash
Impact of Plastic Bags
Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. Which is over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.
Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.
Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups, according to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation.
Books on Reusing Plastics and Trash
Recycle Plastics + Trash
Plastic Doesn't Go Away Quote
Every piece of plastic we've ever made is still on the planet...
It doesn't go away.
Plastic - A Toxic Love Story
Books on Recycling Plastics and Trash
We're All Connected with the Planet Quote
The pesticides that you spray on your dandelions run off into the oceans and end up in the food chain, which ends up back in our plates.
It's a closed system. Everything's connected. We're all connected with the planet in very fundamental ways.
No Dumping...It Drains to the Stream
Image: David Shankbone. No Dumping Drains to Stream.
Released for use under the GNU Free Documentation License,
Benefiting Earth Justice
This lens benefits Earth Justice, formerly the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. Earth Justice is the leading ecological law firm.
The issue of the Pacific Garbage Patch and growing island of debris in the ocean seemed to be one that might be an issue tackled by Earth Justice.
What do you think about the Pacific Garbage Patch?