I had no idea that there is a 3.5 million ton island of plastic and garbage floating in the Pacific ocean between Hawaii and San Francisco. I found this out last night when I was marveling at the ridiculous petroleum-based packaging that housed my Oscar Meyer Center Cut Bacon. Not only was the plastic container over the top, but the shrink wrapped bacon inside was “freshness overkill.” I made the comment about just another example of our dependence on oil and petroleum products when my daughter asked me if I had heard about garbage island?
So I did some digging. What I found is that “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” or the “Trash Vortex,” has been around since the 1950s. Circular wind and ocean currents in the North Pacific Gyre have collected trash that originates onshore and has made its way into the Pacific. Greenpeace has a nice animation on how the gyre works.
The garbage island has been growing tenfold every decade and is now twice the size of Texas. Plastic makes up 80% of the waste, the majority of which is non-recyclable and highly toxic Bisphenol A. The world produces 7 billion pounds of Bisphenol A per year for hard, clear plastic called polycarbonate.
I’m pretty sure we can find better ways to save our collective bacon than continuing to use polycarbonates in our packaging, and to think twice about how we dispose of the non-recyclable plastics that are thrust into our lives.
Here is the first in a several episode series on garbage island from VBS-TV.