The blogosphere is expanding, and I continue to discover plastics-related sites that are worth visiting. "Rise Above Plastics" is a blog connected to the Malibu, Calif.-based Surfrider Foundation, that aims to be "a starting point for raising awareness of the problems that plastic brings to our oceans." In it's "Purpose" section, it goes on:
Every bit of plastic that was ever produced still exists today, and much if it ends up in the ocean. RAP endeavors to spur you to actions-at home, at the store, at city hall. Each of us depends on plastic in some form every day, but much if it is a convenience choice, a decision that can easily be swayed toward the proper environmental path, requiring no more effort on your part.("Every bit ... still exists today"? How much of an exaggeration is that?) The blog started in September, and lately it has been very active. Typical posts are links to newspaper and magazine stories about plastics marine debris, as well as links to interested groups like the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. One interesting post, from May 21, tackled a question I've heard: Is there a way to clean up the garbage patches in the Pacific Ocean?
At tonight's meeting of Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter, I showed a copy of the graphic from the Toronto Globe and Mail depicting the garbage patches in the Pacific Ocean. At least one person asked "Isn't there some way we can clean this up?" And, later during our break and discussion period, I was asked why I thought it the trash could not be picked up. I replied "Because of the enormity of it all," explaining that these patches were so large and plastics of varying sizes are spread throughout the patches at depths up to 10 meters. Anna Cummins, Eduction Advisor of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, had a guest blog post in the LA Times just the other day and wrote,Surfriders Foundation has another plastics-related blog, on its main Web site, simply titled Surfriders Blog. This one touches on a wider variety of topics, but marine debris is often featured, as well as efforts to ban plastic products.
- The garbage does indeed exist. HOWEVER it is not a "patch" of garbage, nor a trash island. It's more like a huge bowl of dilute plastic soup, from California to Japan.
- We can't clean it up, net it away, or sieve it out. It's an area twice the size of the United States, and the debris is too spread out. Imagine a handful of plastic cornflakes sprinkled over a football field. Now imagine 9 million football fields in the Pacific Ocean.