Last night I was flipping through an old issue of Vice and unexpectedly found myself lost in the graphic documentation of the Garbage Island in the Pacific Gyre, located 1,000 miles off the California coast, half-way to Hawaii. The Garbage Island isn’t really an island, it’s a loose collection of floating debris that’s been washed into the ocean, and cycled by currents to join other trash in a high pressure zone, a gyre. Waste has gathered here historically for ages, but before it was of a decomposable nature. Now most of the debris is plastic. And plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it photo-degrades, which means it just gets brittle, then breaks down into smaller pieces, but remains, and always will, remain plastic. The water is just becoming clogged on a thicker, more soupy level with this chunky confetti that fish and birds easily mistake for food.
On a recent trip, researcher Charles Moore analyzed samples of water and found a ration of 6 to 1, plastic to water. Pretty gross. Even grosser to realize this floating garbageland is roughly twice the size of Texas. What’s worse is it doesn’t stay there. Jellyfish get the plastic caught in their tentacles, and then eaten by fish. Those fish get eaten by bigger fish, who are then caught by fishermen to put on our plates. Dead birds have recently been found with bellies so full of plastic bottle caps and wrappers there was no more room for actual food.
Marine researchers say the confetti mess is so huge, and the particles so small, it is impossible to clean up, especially considering it extends to depths of 300 feet. Only a tiny amount of trash actually falls off boats, so most of it has undoubtedly come from our own streets and gutters, washed out by rain.
In light of this, what’s the point of making water bottles that use slightly less plastic, if they’re never going to be recycled anyway?
Hey Arrowhead, and your Eco-friendly plastic water bottle? Shouldn’t the point really be to stop using so much packaging in the first place?
The whole water-drinking phase is great, but does a disposable plastic container really have to be involved with every ten gulps we take? Hey, if there’s a market, products will be designed to fill it. Couldn’t someone design flavored water dispensers you pay to fill up at? We don’t buy our gas in containers then throw them away, why are drinks packaged that way? Blogsite EcoPop had a good point when they asked why beverage purveyors like Starbucks couldn’t offer healthy water/juice options for purchase with your re-usable cup?
C’mon, let’s get the celebrities in on this. All those fashion-setters who stroll through the pages of Us Weekly clutching their Coffee Bean cup, let’s get you on the bandwagon. A couple couture designers making signature, re-usable water bottles, and suddenly plastic is out, and eco-friendly is in.
We can do this, and let’s do it soon. I plan on going to the beach this summer, and plastic is just not in my diet.