The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific trash vortex, is the largest of the five offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world’s oceans. It is located halfway between Hawaii and California. It is estimated that 1.15 to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers. The GPGP covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, an area twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France. Not only does plastic pollution in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch pose risks for the safety and health of marine animals, but there are health and economic implications for humans as well.
The numbers regarding this ‘floating island’ are terrifying:
- The GPGP is made up of at least 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic (250 pieces of debris for every single person in the world).
- The plastic it collects is estimated to weigh close to 80,000 tonnes (That’s the same weight as 500 jumbo jets)!
- The patch is 2 times the size of Texas, or, if you’re more knowledgeable in European geography, 3 times the size of France, measuring a total of 1.6 million square kilometers.
- 94% of objects can be identified as micro plastics (are you eating micro plastics?), while half of the total mass is occupied by abandoned fishing nets (ever heard of ‘Ghost netting’?).
Although the GPGP is the most infamous garbage patch, researchers have recently uncovered two more ‘floating islands’ of debris in the South Pacific Ocean and in the North Atlantic.
Unfortunately the amount of plastic that is entering the oceans, is increasing year by year, meaning that these patches and these accumulating areas, will only get bigger and bigger with time. This will further impact the ocean, marine life and our food chain.
If we want to reduce our waste a great way to begin is by paying attention to the waste we generate. Conscious Waste is not about perfection. It’s about becoming more conscious of the waste we generate, which then leads us to become more conscious of our consumption habits.