The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

June 16, 2009
By Anonymous

The ocean is a place where people can participate in a wide array of activities. Some people go to its sunny beaches to rest and relax as the waves lap at the shore. Others get on boats and travel far into the ocean to catch fish and make a living. Even animals come to the ocean, whether they live there or use it for a more temporary purpose. However, unlike animals, the people who use the ocean tend to have more adverse effects on it. Unregulated dumping has caused the ocean to fill up with all sorts of refuse. Even when people use the ocean as a vacation spot, they treat it poorly and do not bother to pick up after themselves. The trash in the ocean is not only harmful to the ocean itself, but also it hurts just about every animal that has some sort of connection to the ocean. The garbage not only clogs the waters but also some of it also secretes chemicals that can drastically alter the composition of the ocean over an extended period of time. Fish that people farm to make a living could become completely extinct if anything that extreme were to happen. If human trends continue and people do not learn to respect the ocean changing their habits for the good, the ocean could go through drastic, irreversible changes that will cause dozens of different species to go extinct.
The Garbage Patch is a large mass of debris twice the size of Texas that is floating in The Pacific Ocean (Timmer). It is the largest concentration on debris in any ocean and it is what hurts a majority of the animals (Driscoll 3). It is so large in fact, that the plastic to sea life ratio is 6:1 (Driscoll 3). Many people have not heard about the garbage patch because it is in a rarely traveled part of the Pacific Ocean (Timmer). The lack of public attention has meant that this terrible vortex in the ocean has gone virtually unnoticed. Some also ask why so much garbage is not just floating all over the world rather than staying where it is. The answer is in the currents around the Garbage Patch (Timmer). These currents flow around the Gyre and keep most of the garbage in the same spot. The Garbage Patch is also more devious than it seems because it does not only have trash floating on the surface of the water. There is trash that is suspended about three feet below the surface, making the Garbage Patch much larger than it seems.

In order to preserve our way of life, we must change our habits to better live with the ocean, rather than just use it. Recycling is a good way to stop the problem from getting larger, but it would not fix it. Also, many people still do not recycle because they see it as an inconvenience. If people are going to start recycling, they will need some sort of incentive to motivate them. A program could be established where people get paid if they recycle, much like when people use to take bottles to a recycling plant and get change. Many areas, like Columbia, have already taken big steps in making recycling easier. Larger recycling cans have been given out all over Columbia, making the whole process much more convenient. The sorting process could also be upgraded. The sorting is done to separate different types of trash as well as trash and recyclables. If it is redone, less plastic will end up in landfills and risk falling into the ocean to join the rest of the trash (Nuckols).
Driscoll, Emily V. "America's Underwater Junkyard." Time Magazine 30 Sept. 2008.

7 Oct. 2008
Nuckols, William, Mr. Interview. 20 Sept. 2006. Transcript. Student Resource

Center Gold. Gale. 8 Oct. 2008
Timmer, John. "Floating, Teas-sized Garbage Patch." Wired Next Fest 23 Oct.

2007. 23 Sept. 2008 .

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