The enormous stew of trash – which consists of 80 percent plastics and weighs some 3.5 million tons, say oceanographers – floats where few people ever travel, in a no-man’s land between San Francisco and Hawaii. The patch has been growing, along with ocean debris worldwide, tenfold every decade since the 1950s. Sea turtles mistake clear plastic bags for jellyfish. Birds swoop down and swallow indigestible shards of plastic.
The petroleum-based plastics take decades to break down, and as long as they float on the ocean’s surface, they can appear as feeding grounds. The Greenpeace report found that at least 267 marine species had suffered from some kind of ingestion or entanglement with marine debris.
Most plastic bags end up in landfills, part of the millions of tons of plastic garbage Americans dump each year.
But whether jettisoned illegally by ships at sea, washed out from land during storms, or, as in the case of the chalupa bags, accidentally lost overboard from containerships, countless tons of plastic refuse end up drifting on the high seas.
You can help to limit the ever-growing patch of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean. Here are some ways to help:
Limit your use of plastics when possible. Plastic doesn’t easily degrade and can kill sea life.
Use a reusable bag when shopping. Throwaway bags can easily blow into the ocean.
Take your trash with you when you leave the beach.
Make sure your trash bins are securely closed. Keep all trash in closed bags.
Please do what you can to help lessen the impact of plastics in our oceans and on marine life, and by applying some of these easy steps and by signing this very important petition to stop the damaging effects on our world.