Somebody’s Gotta Do It
I am a recycling tyrant. Ask anyone at One New York Plaza. I am that person who will remove a soiled salad container from the garbage, lament loudly about how Mother Nature is watching, warn of instant karma, and then rinse the damn thing dramatically before throwing it in the recycle bin.
Yup. Risking my co-workers cooties, weird looks, and alienation, I am that person. Can you blame me? I grew up watching this guy weeping for crying out loud!
And now, despite his tears and us knowing the effects of our instantly gratified, disposable culture on the environment, we have the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—a micro plastic soup between North America and Asia in the North Pacific gyre (a gyre is large system of circulating ocean currents). Micro plastics are less than five millimeters in length, about the size of a sesame seed.
There are five major gyres—North and South Pacific, North and South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean…all of them collecting our garbage!
The largest patch of garbage is the Great Pacific (gee, great). Here is what the National Geographic has to say about it: “About 80% of the debris comes from land-based activities in North America and Asia.
The remaining 20% of debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from boaters, offshore oil rigs, and large cargo ships that dump or lose debris directly into the water. The majority of this debris—about 705,000 tons—is fishing nets. More unusual items, such as computer monitors and LEGOs, come from dropped shipping containers.
Marine debris can be very harmful to marine life in the gyre. For instance, loggerhead sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellies, their favorite food. Albatrosses mistake plastic resin pellets for fish eggs and feed them to chicks, which die of starvation or ruptured organs.”
The 5 Gyres Institute (their mission to empower action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution through science, art, education, and adventure) states that there is an estimated 270,000 metric tons of garbage in the ocean. How much is that? Stack two liter bottles on top of each other to the moon and back…twice…that is 270,000 metric tons.
So please, for the love of Mother Nature and all her creatures that we must shepherd, use that ugly mug you got as a gift last year, get a stainless steel water bottle, and please…pretty please…if you get take out for lunch, rinse out your boutique containers before lovingly placing them into that bin that is designated for recycling.