Monday, October 25, 2010

The Plastic Ocean

In 2010, on almost any beach, at almost any time of the year, there is a constant: plastic. From the Jersey Shore to the distant paradise of Midway, plastic pollution has reached nearly all corners of the planet. We've done this all within a few generations. And the big question seems to be "Why is there so much plastic in the ocean?"

So I put together a little chart.

Recycling is wonderful. But it is not endless. Once a piece of plastic comes into the world, the only way it is known to end -- really end -- is in the fires of an incinerator. Until it meets that fate, it will persist. And given half a chance, it will enter a gulley, a roadside ditch, a culvert, a storm drain, a rill, a brook, a stream, a river, a floodplain. And eventually the ocean. Where it will remain plastic, even as it photodegrades to a microscopic soup.

So the question isn't "Why is there so much in the ocean?" It's "How did we not think this was going to happen?"

1 comment:

  1. Harry... this is just great. "How did we not think this was going to happen??" Beyond picking up the waste... you're delving into the issues of "why??" Prompting people to think about their connections to this problem. You do such great work and I hope that you're able to get in touch with Bonnie... :)