Saturday, January 19, 2008


I can't get this out of my mind.

It's from Plastic Ocean, an article about, well, more than what kind of bag you use to transport your groceries. A sailor from Southern California named Charles Moore came across a vast dead zone of trash teeming with plastic (including discarded kayaks) when he went off course while racing. He was so aghast at what he found that now he runs a foundation that sends expeditions out to do oceanic research and educates the public about plastic pollution in the ocean. The Garbage Patch in the Pacific he discovered (similar dead zones are found across the globe) is twice the size of Texas.

The picture above (by Gregg Segal) pretty much captures the egregious impact of plastic on marine life. I'm sure you all have heard that the teeny tiny plastic crap we give out as party favors ends up choking baby seals or that the plastic carriers for your six-pack may end up strangling tiny otters as they grow, or, as it turns out, grossly misshaping a sea turtle. What the picture doesn't capture is how omnipresent plastic is in our lives (start looking around your house -- and start trying to even minimally reduce your plastics usage and you'll become truly alarmed) not to mention how dangerous that plastic can be. The BPA lining our cans that may slowly migrate into our food? Try boatloads of tiny wayward particles of plastic called nurdles that each could bring a toxic load of persistent organic pollutants right to your dinner table...

"The word itself—nurdles—sounds cuddly and harmless, like a cartoon character or a pasta for kids, but what it refers to is most certainly not. Absorbing up to a million times the level of POP pollution in their surrounding waters, nurdles become supersaturated poison pills. They’re light enough to blow around like dust, to spill out of shipping containers, and to wash into harbors, storm drains, and creeks. In the ocean, nurdles are easily mistaken for fish eggs by creatures that would very much like to have such a snack. And once inside the body of a bigeye tuna or a king salmon, these tenacious chemicals are headed directly to your dinner table. One study estimated that nurdles now account for 10 percent of plastic ocean debris."

--Susan Casey, Plastic Ocean in Best Life Magazine

Article above via Fake Plastic Fish, a blog about living plastic-free, and a pretty fascinating read in and of itself.

And now, since it is incredibly difficult to avoid plastic even when you try pretty hard, I thought I would allow a marine mammal to cheer us on up. Thanks, Treehugger, for the link. Hope we can all do Flipper the favor of examining the plastics in our lives to see just how essential we think they are....

Dolphin Play Bubble Rings


Mrs. G. said...

Those images will not leave my mind for some time...maybe never. It's good to have a visual wake up call.

Melanie said...

Twice the size of Texas. My God.

I have been gradually trying to de-plastic (un-plastic?) or life for the past two years. It helps that I'm naturally kind of grossed out by plastic, but, man, is it hard.

Thanks for this.

Mary said...

This morning I was getting a doughnut (that's a whole 'nother story). I was about to reach for a plastic takeout container, when suddenly, for some reason, I thought of your blog! I found a napkin instead. See--impact!