The Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch

| 3 Comments | 0 TrackBacks

            Growing up on the East Coast, I'm sure many of us are familiar with vacations and summer days spent on the beach. What you may not quite remember as clearly, however, is the amount of trash that accumulates on the coastlines of these beaches and thus winds up in the ocean. What a vast majority of people do not know is that there is an enormous garbage patch stretching for hundreds of miles floating in the Pacific Ocean. Although it is unknown as to exactly how massive this patch is, what we do know is that a majority of the contents are made up of plastic, since most of the other products sink or break down before they get there. Unlike a lot of other materials, plastic isn't biodegradable, meaning that it is unable to break down. Although sunlight can reduce the size of the initial plastic product, the plastic never actually goes away, but instead becomes microscopic and available for smaller organisms to ingest it. Although there is other various materials found amidst this garbage patch, including fishing nets, metal, glass, and rubber, the majority is by far plastic.

            Within the Pacific Ocean is one of the largest oceanic gyres, known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. It is basically a giant spiral of seawater formed by colliding currents. Although it may take several years for the debris to travel from the coasts of oceans and rivers to reach the patch, nearly all of the garbage that enters the sea from Japan, Korea, China, Russia, Canada, and the United States will ultimately end up among the mass.

            Plastic contains many toxic chemicals and colorants, as well as having the ability to absorb pollutants like PCBs that are already in the water and atmosphere. Going back to sunlight breaking down the plastic into more concentrated, smaller particles, known as photodegradation. This presents a major problem because these microscopic plastic bits can then be ingested by microspoic organisms, such as phytoplankton, which make up the basis of our food chain. Therefore we end up ingesting these toxins!           

            The problem with trying to clean up the enormous patch is that such an effort would kill a lot of wildlife in the nets in the process and the question of what to do with all the trash arises. Currently, the international Project Kaisei team is studying the contents of the patch in hopes of eventually recycling them or finding some use for them, such as fuel. Ultimately, we need to control the use of plastic products and implement the use of more biodegradable products. We as a worldwide population need to begin educating ourselves on the idea of reusing products as opposed to wasting them. This can be as simple as using dishes and glasses instead of Styrofoam and plastic plates or utensils. Using paper bags instead of plastic bags when grocery shopping is also another easy alternative, or better yet using reusable cloth bags of your own! We need to move away from people of convenience and start to become aware of the problems coming from our very hands.

 References: 

http://www.newlyswissed.com/?p=12885

 

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/translating-uncle-sam/stories/what-is-the-great-pacific-ocean-garbage-patch                                                                                    

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: https://blogs.psu.edu/mt4/mt-tb.cgi/401680

3 Comments

I find it quite interesting that I have never heard of this patch of garbage floating in the ocean. This news also makes me wonder if other people know about his patch of garbage and its harmful effects. I know I love going to the beach and love the animals of the oceans. When I heard that the plastic shrinks to a microscopic size and that tiny organism ingest it, I just started to think how unhealthy that is for the ecosystem. As mentioned in the article, those tiny organisms are the bottom of the food chain. If something bad happens to them, the rest of the ecosystem suffers. It is definitely important to keep the animals safe and that means keeping our trash out of the ocean. I think our first step would be to limit or stop altogether the use plastic materials, especially at the beach. Also, you should always clean up after yourself and never leave trash behind. I hope that team finds a way to recycle all of the trash without harming any wildlife. The idea of using biodegradable material is always a good way to prevent the buildup of trash like this one. Using your own cloth bags that you can reuse also saves the environment from potential harm.

I find it quite interesting that I have never heard of this patch of garbage floating in the ocean. This news also makes me wonder if other people know about his patch of garbage and its harmful effects. I know I love going to the beach and love the animals of the oceans. When I heard that the plastic shrinks to a microscopic size and that tiny organism ingest it, I just started to think how unhealthy that is for the ecosystem. As mentioned in the article, those tiny organisms are the bottom of the food chain. If something bad happens to them, the rest of the ecosystem suffers. It is definitely important to keep the animals safe and that means keeping our trash out of the ocean. I think our first step would be to limit or stop altogether the use plastic materials, especially at the beach. Also, you should always clean up after yourself and never leave trash behind. I hope that team finds a way to recycle all of the trash without harming any wildlife. The idea of using biodegradable material is always a good way to prevent the buildup of trash like this one. Using your own cloth bags that you can reuse also saves the environment from potential harm.

I find it quite interesting that I have never heard of this patch of garbage floating in the ocean. This news also makes me wonder if other people know about his patch of garbage and its harmful effects. I know I love going to the beach and love the animals of the oceans. When I heard that the plastic shrinks to a microscopic size and that tiny organism ingest it, I just started to think how unhealthy that is for the ecosystem. As mentioned in the article, those tiny organisms are the bottom of the food chain. If something bad happens to them, the rest of the ecosystem suffers. It is definitely important to keep the animals safe and that means keeping our trash out of the ocean. I think our first step would be to limit or stop altogether the use plastic materials, especially at the beach. Also, you should always clean up after yourself and never leave trash behind. I hope that team finds a way to recycle all of the trash without harming any wildlife. The idea of using biodegradable material is always a good way to prevent the buildup of trash like this one. Using your own cloth bags that you can reuse also saves the environment from potential harm.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

West Of Everything (Delvonne McCullum)
When I was first asked in the beginning of the course if I had ever been to a few of…
Challenge Accepted Pt. 2 (Delvonne McCullum)
on the lines of a recycling bin shoot. Having something like a laundry chute except for plastic bottles and cans…
Challenge Accepted Pt. 1 (Delvonne McCullum)
I want to address a serious topic that doesn't get the right amount attention that I believe it deserves.…