This striking image is immediately eye catching, but contains a darker truth. The rainbow which first registers as a joyful image, reveals instead the spectrum of plastic pollution as it affects marine life. This mosaic of plastic fragments was created solely from the stomach contents of one Laysan Albatross chick.
Plastic contamination of our oceans has been making the news recently, as scientists have located two new “garbage patches” in Earth’s oceans just this year, in the Atlantic in April, and in the Indian Ocean in June.
This mockumentary by Santa Monica’s Heal The Bay gives an engaging and highly educational view on plastic in the oceans.
Heal the Bay is a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to making Southern California coastal waters and watersheds, including Santa Monica Bay, safe, healthy and clean. They have successfully completed several projects in the last 25 years, from spill clean-ups to political sanctions which protect Santa Monica Bay from pollution.
Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins, the husband and wife team who discovered the most recent ‘garbage patch’ have founded the 5 Gyres Institute as a means of continuing to help the situation in our oceans. Check out their very cool and informative website.
Though it would be easiest to think of the ‘garbage patches’ as floating islands, able to be scooped or cleaned up, “there is no island of trash,” says Cummins. “It’s a myth.” Instead, she says the garbage patches resemble plastic soup or confetti. “We now have a third accumulation zone of plastic pollution that shows compounding evidence that the trash isn’t condensed to an island,” she says. “It’s spread out across the entire gyre from coast to coast. The world’s oceans are covered with a thin plastic soup that’s thickest in the middle of the gyres.” It would be far easier to clean up the oceans if the trash were forming islands, Eriksen explains. In his opinion, it isn’t practical to try to recover the plastic from sea because most is fragmented and widely distributed. Read the rest of their interview here.
Until a clean-up plan is developed, the most we can do is educate ourselves and stop more plastic from ‘migrating’ into our oceans. We found these great resources on plastic pollution:
Plastic Pollution — A basic concepts list (very interesting and helpful!)
Plastic Pollution — A common misconceptions list (explaining how even recycling plastics is not a long-term sustainable solution, that “biodegradable, plant plastics” are not that great either)
Sign Oceana’s Plastics Pledge here.
Make good happen: Pick up a reusable water bottle, some reusable grocery bags, and switch over to glass or ceramic containers whenever possible. And of course, spread the word!
Peace Grl Out.