Posts tagged Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Balloons Are Dangerous to the Environment

Balloons Are Dangerous to the Environment

Since we are in the months of the Great American Clean Up, I’m highlighting each day something that I find on the streets as litter. Although I have loved balloons all my life, I do not like to find them in the environment.

Balloons are dangerous to wildlife who might ingest them. If I had not picked this balloon up off the street, it would have washed into the storm drain heading for the river and eventually the oceans. If an animal did not consume it on its journey, it would have wound up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Please remember to remove balloons when they are used outside for birthday parties or open houses.

NP NowPublic

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Storm Drain Trash

Yesterday in Albuquerque, we had an afternoon thunderstorm. Afterward on our way to dinner, we found this street-wide storm drain with lots of debris. This is one reason why we should not litter. Much of the trash enters the storm drain and makes it way (in this case) to the Rio Grande River which empties into the ocean eventually. Besides polluting our rivers and lakes, we add to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Mostly Albuquerque is a very clean city, but the washing of its litter into one location illustrates how much a problem small amounts of litter can become.

Today, we walked the LaLuz Trail in the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico. The trail was very clean of litter. We saw one plastic bottle that was probably dropped by accident. Everyone removes their trash and leaves only footprints. It was a glorious experience.

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Too Much Plastic Bottle Trash

During my short walk this morning, I picked up 9 plastic bottles in the Boone Trace and Lexington Point subdivisions. Most of the plastic bottles were on the Lexington Point playground. The trash can at the playground was virtually empty.

If you can’t recycle (and there is no reason why we can’t), please put the plastic bottles in a trash can. Plastic bottles left on the streets eventually wash into the storm drains which wash into the rivers which wash into the oceans that push the plastic into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch vortex. (Sorry for repeating this warning on my blog.) No one seems to get the message.

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Happy Birthday!

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of PlanetTrash: The Earth is Not a Trash Can. This image started the blog. When we spotted this overturned jaccuzi abandoned on the side of Newsom Station Road, something stirred us to fight the litter accumulating around our home.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how my life had changed since this blog became a reality.

We will continue to fight litter and especially plastic litter.

Our (meaning you, everyone in the world and me) dilemma is handling the plastic trash that we use in our everyday life. Plastic is everywhere. We can’t live without it. Look around you and try to find something that isn’t made of plastic.

We can reduce the amount of unneeded plastic as cups, plates and flatware. What do we do with our computer and other electronic components, automobile parts, etc? From just home and office use, I’ve used at least a dozen computers in my life. How many are in landfills? Worse, how many are floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Everything we buy is enclosed in plastic or is put into a plastic bag. Why?

Refuse to take plastic. Reuse or recycle it if you do. If you can’t, put it into a trash can at the least.

Just don’t use Planet Earth as a trash can. Please!

Keep reading and commenting.

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Marketing Hype is Trash

No kudos to Deer Park Bottled Spring Water for its New Eco-Shape Bottle from us. Deer Park claims that the plastic bottle has “an average of 30% less plastic to be easier on the environment.” Deer Park, I picked up your plastic bottle from the side of the road where it would eventually wash into the river which would empty into the ocean which would propel it to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

No plastic is eco-safe. Not even recycled plastic, but at least, it’s not swimming in the Pacific Ocean.

Buy a reusable water bottle. We can all make a difference.

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What We Leave Behind

I finished reading Fahrenheit 451 yesterday. Toward the end of the book, one of the characters quotes from his grandfather:

Everyone must leave something behind when he dies…. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched someway so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.

Why did I think of that statement when I saw this Mountain Dew plastic bottle “planted” in the dirt at a construction site? Is this how the next generation will remember us? The huge pile of plastic floating in the ocean?

I still have flowers that return each year that my mother gave me. A few years before she died, she gave me a plant called a magic lily, or a surprise lily. The summer after she died, it bloomed for the first time. That’s where I see her soul: in flowers or when I eat a homegrown tomato.

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Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Thanks to the Sierra Club for providing the link to this video about Garbage Island. I just watched all twelve episodes plus the bonus feature on plastic and bisphenol A (we’re all gonna die from plastic). This video explains the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and should be watched by everyone. I eat fish, but I’m not sure if I can after viewing this video.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t an island that we can walk on, but it’s little pieces of plastic concentrated in ocean water. Fish eat it; we eat fish.

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Commentary on Plastic Bags and the Oceans

Here’s an article by Danny Westneat in the Seattle Times concerning a possible 20¢ charge for a plastic or paper bag. He quotes one of my heroes, Curt Ebbesmeyer, who coined the phrase, Great Pacific Garbage Patch:

I figured if anyone would jump for joy at Seattle’s crusade against plastic bags, it would be the flotsam guy.

Maybe you’ve heard of Curt Ebbesmeyer. He’s considered one of the world’s leading oceanic garbologists (though, as he jokes, how many can there be?).From his basement in Ravenna, he uses beachcomber reports to track the comings and goings of floating sea trash. Like dozens of rat-poison canisters that washed onto Washington shores this spring. Or computer monitors, which “always float screen up, eyes peering out of the waves.”

An oceanographer, he also named the Earth’s most shameful man-made feature, the “great Eastern garbage patch.” That’s a Texas-sized soup of plastic junk, swirling in floating clouds across the Pacific between us and Hawaii.

It’s such a huge and indestructible soiling of the sea that Ebbesmeyer feels bad he dubbed it only a “patch.”

“It’s trash that will never go away, stretching across the water farther than you can see,” Ebbesmeyer says. “It would absolutely horrify you to see it.”

So when I asked him what he thought of Seattle’s plan to crack down on disposable grocery bags, I was surprised when he sort of shrugged.

“It’s OK, but plastic bags are not the real problem,” he said. “It’s one little battle out of a million. Go look at what the ocean carries in on a given day. You’ll see what I mean.”

Last month, Ebbesmeyer held a “Dash for Trash” in Ocean Shores. In two hours, 50 people collected an astonishing 2,000 pounds of junk from the beach. Almost all of it was plastic — from fishing floats to shotgun shells to dolls from Japan. Yet very little of it was the plastic bags targeted by Seattle.

I did my own garbology “dig” at low tide in Seattle’s Myrtle Edwards Park. In half an hour poking along 300 yards of shoreline, I found a demoralizing 173 pieces of trash.

Take out the wood (paintbrush), the metal (beer cans, foil wrappers) and the miscellaneous (earplugs, nicotine patches, ropes, a corncob, an orange traffic cone), and I was left with 137 pieces of plastic.

Top item, by far: Plastic bottles. Followed by plastic bottle caps. Then plastic lids and plastic cups. Plus a slew of plastic food packaging.

Number of plastic grocery or drugstore bags? One.

The plan is to levy a 20-cent-per-bag fee on both plastic and paper bags, in hopes we’ll all stop using them. That’s fine, Ebbesmeyer told me. But it’s such a tiny slice of the global plastic problem it’s scarcely worth commenting on.

“If the mayor really wants to get on the stick, he should go after plastic bottles. Or plastic wrapping of food products. Or how about a tax or a ban on petroleum-based plastic, period?”

Now some of you have written to say the mayor, for proposing even this mild intrusion into our lives, is an eco-fascist who’ll pry your bags only from your cold, dead fingers.

But take it from the flotsam guy. He has seen a seabird with 700 bits of plastic in its stomach. He has sampled seawater in which plastic particles outnumber plankton six to one. He has gazed into the planet’s plasticizing heart of darkness.

From out there, this bag flap is a drop in the ocean.

Danny Westneat’s column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or

Personally, I think all the plastic bags have floated to the bottom of the ocean, or have blown away to hang from trees.

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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Growing at an Alarmingly Rate

According to this article from, the GPGP is now half the size of the continental United States. Only months ago, it was the size of Texas. Here’s a frightening excerpt:

Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer and a leading authority on flotsam, has tracked the build-up of plastics in the seas for more than 15 years and compares the trash vortex to a living entity: “It moves around like a big animal without a leash.”

When that animal comes close to land, as it does at the Hawaiian archipelago, the results are dramatic. “The garbage patch barfs, and you get a beach covered with this confetti of plastic,” he added.

The “soup” is actually two linked areas, either side of the islands of Hawaii, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches. About one-fifth of the junk – which includes everything from footballs and kayaks to Lego blocks and bags – is thrown off ships or oil platforms. The rest comes from land.

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Another Great Idea from California

From Styrofoam ‘to go’ boxes may go away if lawmakers follow green promotion

Beach cleanup efforts conducted within the last year by the Surfrider Foundation demonstrate that polystyrene makes up a significant portion of litter. A cleanup last February at Marina State Beach netted 329 pieces of polystyrene and plastic. About six weeks later, 425 pieces were picked up at the same location.

“And that’s in two hours of work,” said Ximena Waissbluth of the foundation.

I’m sure that there is lots of this material in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

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