Updated: Sep 17, 2020
This post is to help you really understand what we are doing to our home.
"It's just 1 bottle" ~said 6 billion people
First let's learn some vocabulary.
Plastic - A synthetic material made from a wide range of organic polymers such as polyethylene, PVC, nylon, etc., that can be moulded into shape while soft, and then set into a rigid or slightly elastic form.
Microplastics are small pieces less than 5mm long (about the size of a sesame seed). Types of microplastics are usually degraded from larger plastics or are microbeads.
Microbeads are tiny pieces of manufactured polyethylene plastics that are add to exfoliants in health and beauty products. You know those rough particles that make your skin feel really soft because they scrape the dead skin off or the little dots in toothpaste? Thats them. I bet you didn't know they were actually plastic. Make sure you don't swallow that toothpaste...
These microplastics easily pass through water filtration systems because of their small size.
A Gyre is a large, rotating collection of currents. There are 5 major gyres.
Cure -The relief of symptoms of a disease or condition.
Why do we make plastic?
Plastic is continuously made because of it's durability, low cost, and malleability.
Since 1964 plastic production has increased 20 times, equalling 311 million tons of plastic in 2014. This is the same weight as more than 900 empire state buildings. This number is expected to double again by 2050.
Plastic packaging is 26% of all plastic manufactured. Only 14% is collected for recycling, and after sorting only 5% is actually retained to use again. It is useful for less than 1 year but stays in the environment for centuries.
Even though plastic was revolutionary, it turned out to be a bad experiment.
A study from the Ellen MacAurthur Foundation found that each year at least 8 million tons of plastic leaks into the ocean. That's the same as about 1 garbage truck dumped every minute.
We have found plastic in 83% of tap water samples. Other studies have found plastic in rock salt. Plastic has been found in organisms 11km down. There is no marine ecosystem left that has not been affected.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
The patch spans from the west coast of North America to Japan. It is actually 2 patches (East & West) that are bound by the North Pacific Gyre. The debris travels between the East and West patches by the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone. This is where warm water from the South Pacific meets with cold water from the Arctic and acts as a trash highway.
Because of the rotation, debris is drawn into the center of the gyre where it becomes trapped. This becomes the "Trash Islands" as referred to in the media. However, you cannot see these masses on a satellite because they are primarily composed of microplastics. Instead, the water looks cloudy. Also, about 70% of the debris sinks to the bottom of the ocean, making the vortex nearly impossible to measure.