The Pacific Plastic Problem

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In the world’s largest ocean, the Pacific, there is a steadily growing problem, a problem so big it is larger than Texas. This problem has been named the great Pacific garbage patch and it is only getting bigger as time goes on and more waste finds itself into the ocean. It is estimated that the great Pacific garbage patch holds around 3.5 million tons of garbage, of that 3.5 million tons most of it is composed of plastics (Wilson). All this garbage is kept in a big heap due to swirling ocean currents called gyres (Wilson). This plastic has a huge impact on the environment and the people who turn to the ocean for food and income. Since the discovery of the great Pacific garbage patch plastic has spread beyond the Pacific into other oceans…show more content…
This a huge problem that can solved by people around the world taking action and recycling plastic, paper and other recyclable materials. Every year around eight million metric tons of plastic make its way to the ocean by either direct dumping or is blown into the sea by wind or storm (McCoy). The plastic in the ocean is not just large pieces such as water bottles or plastic bags, most of the plastic in the ocean is small micro-sized pieces usually around one to ten millimeters (Plankton) . These micro-sized pieces are broke down from larger pieces and make ocean cleanup very difficult. Micro-sized pieces of plastic also pose a problem to the wildlife that call the ocean home. As more plastic enters ocean and other large bodies of water, more animals are mistaking it for food and eating it. One of the main animals that are eating this plastic is seabirds (Salleh). Scientist and researchers are unsure why seabirds are eating the plastic, but Dr. Chris Wilcox of CSIRO marine and atmospheric research believes that the birds are mistaking the plastic for food, eating organisms that already have plastic inside of them and eating organisms that are stuck to the plastic (Salleh). This plastic has a detrimental effect on the seabirds, Dr.…show more content…
The first solution purposed to clean up this debacle was having a ship troll the ocean with large nets to capture the plastic. There are a couple problems with this purposed solution, first it would cost a lot of money to pay a person to troll the middle of the ocean for plastic and secondly it would take thousands of years to clean up a majority of the plastic and other debris with this method (McCoy). In 2011 Boyan Slat was only sixteen when he was influenced by a family vacation to Greece where he went scuba diving. While diving in the ocean waters he noticed the high number of plastic bags and debris that littered the ocean, after seeing that he realized that he wanted to come up with a solution to this problem. Slat’s purposed idea was to use the oceans strong currents against itself by erecting a large barrier, with a micro mesh, in which the current brings the trash to the barrier where it is caught (McCoy). This technique is more cost effective and less time consuming than other purposed ideas. Slat is now twenty-one and is putting his idea to the test by erecting test barriers, off the cost of the Netherlands, in shallower waters (McCoy). The barrier is closely monitored by scientists (McCoy). Slat’s journey
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