All the shit you throw away — grocery bags, cd cases, water bottles, toys, iPods — ends up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a heap of debris floating in the Pacific twice the size of Texas, consisting of 80 percent plastics and weighing some 3.5 million tons, and floating where few people ever travel, in no-man’s land between San Francisco and Hawaii.
Ocean current patterns may keep the flotsam stashed in a part of the world few will ever see, but the majority of its content is generated onshore, according to a report from Greenpeace last year titled “Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans.”The report found that 80 percent of the oceans’ litter originated on land. While ships drop the occasional load of shoes or hockey gloves into the waters (sometimes on purpose and illegally), the vast majority of sea garbage begins its journey as onshore trash.
If you want to feel really bad about it, read always-genius Mark Morford’s take on it here. You see, its not just killing fish and turtles and bird, but it’s killing us too!
The poetry goes something like this: Plastic bottle is tossed away. Plastic bottle, along with millions just like it, escapes out to sea, drifts and wanders and ultimately joins giant toxic stew of other plastic garbage sitting like a massive island in middle of impartial but increasingly wary ocean.
Time passes. Life churns. Sea birds and other large marine life ingest (and then die from) some of the billions of bits of brightly-colored plastic floating about, as the sun slowly breaks down the rest of the plastic bottle into its fundamental, ultra-toxic polymer molecules. Stew thickens.
And then, the magic happens. Nature’s most efficient organic filters, the sea jellies, absorb those tiny plastic molecules into their bodies. Small fish eat the jellies. Larger fish eat the smaller fish. Slowly, the deadly plastics, which never completely biodegrade, amble their way back up the food chain and back into the stomachs and bloodstreams and ecosystems of larger and larger animals until, voila, there again is your plastic bottle, right there on your dinner plate. Neat!