So, I’m writing a research paper on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Yes, it is real and massive, really massive, and growing. Folks, we need to rethink how we use plastic, because this problem is not disappearring. There are varying estimates on the size of the patch, partly because it changes with seasonal weather patterns. The smallest estimate is that it’s twice the size of Texas and those estimates go up from there. The problem with plastic is that it does NOT biodegrade. Plastic, all forms of it, including styrofoam, photodegrades. What does that mean? Photodegrading means that the plastic breaks into smaller and smaller pieces. Plastic polymers are never gone; they are just extremely tiny, or microscopic. Small marine animals digested the tiny pieces of plastic. Those marine animals are then consumed by larger marine creatures. The fear is that the chemicals in the plastic will work its way up the food chain to humans, if it hasn’t already.
Think about how much plastic is in your daily life. Take one day and keep a plastic diary. How many items do you touch that have plastic in them. When you go shopping, before you purchase a product that has plastic in or around it, see if there is a replacement without plastic or less plastic. Other countries around the world have gone to the manufacturers and pushed them to reduce plastic in packaging. Does it make sense using a material, that essentially never goes away, as a disposable? Shouldn’t disposable items including packaging, toothbrushes, margarine tubs, etc… be made of things that will biodegrade? If they cannot be made of a biodegradable material then, shouldn’t the manufacturers take them back to recycle them? Germany is a perfect example of this model working beautifully. What about the cost to manufacturers and consumers? According to the book Economic Losses From Marine Pollution by Douglas Ofiara and Joseph Seneca, there are enormous economic losses with trashed oceans. Plus, do we really want to tell our children or grandchildren “Sorry kid, we didn’t want our profit margin to go down.”