What happens to Plastic when it ends up as Trash
We have a beautiful planet that supports us and provides us with all of our needs- yet we are destroying it. One of the main culprits is plastic. It is highly available, durable and inexpensive, yet it is wreaking havoc on the planet. Through our overuse of plastic- there are 5 garbage patches floating in our oceans. The largest one is the Pacific Garbage Patch. It is an 18 ton mass of garbage, consisting mostly of plastic, that is polluting our ocean and infecting our food supply. This garbage patch is so large, that it is detectable from space and covers 1.6 million square kilometers.
The problem is that plastic does not decompose- it remains in its current state. The sun, however, makes the plastic brittle and some of the plastic breaks down into microparticles. These tiny bits of plastic are then ingested by wildlife. In turn, it either kills these animals or we then catch and eat the fish.
The good news is that 18 year old Dutch inventor, Boyan Slat, has devised an ambitious cleanup plan with his nonprofit enterprise called the Ocean Cleanup. The floating system was deployed from San Francisco on Saturday and wil be tested for a few weeks before implementation. The hope is that this new technology will trap 150,000 pounds of garbage per year.
The floating boom system will drift with the local currents, creating a U-shaped formation and catching trash and smaller plastic fragments with its 10 feet of netting below the surface. Once the boom is full, a ship will meet the boom to collect the plastic and trash and transport it to land for sorting and recycling.
I think it's great that there is a potential solution for the damage that we've already done, but we also need to think about going forward. The best solution is to stop using plastic items- and an easy change is to convert from using plastic water bottles to reusable water bottles. There are many great stainless steel and wheat straw options. :)
* Sources CNN (Great Pacific Garbage Patch, 3-23-2018) & Forbes (The World's Largest Ocean Cleanup Has Officially Begun- 9-20-2018)