Recently my third grader came home from school and told me that there was a garbage dump in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that was larger than the state of Texas. I found that awfully hard to believe, I mean, we know there’s trash, but really? Is it in the ocean? Is there really that much trash? So I’ve looked into it a bit and she’s right.
Apparently, there’s a spot that exists referred to as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a slowly moving, clockwise spiral of currents created by a high-pressure system of air currents (source: Howstuffworks.com). This area is known as an oceanic desert, never traveled by boats nor frequented by big fish or mammals. But the area is filled with something besides plankton: trash, millions of pounds of it, most of it plastic. It's the largest landfill in the world, and it floats in the middle of the ocean.
Known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it consists of two large masses of ever-accumulating trash, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches. Each swirling mass of refuse is massive and collects trash from all over the world. The patches are connected by a thin 6,000-mile long current called the Subtropical Convergence Zone, where significant amounts of trash also accumulate.
So what does all this mean to you? It’s time to start recycling, reusing and conserving. We only have one planet Earth and it won’t be here forever.
Just one family recycling can make an impact larger than you’d expect.
“There is a ripple effect, kids talk, if they go to a friend’s house they will ask why they don’t recycle. Kids have their own culture and can spread the word themselves,” said Rebecca Clarke, naturalist, Maywood Environmental Park, Sheboygan, Wis. “One family can make a huge impact.”
By teaching children about making good choices for the environment, there’s a better chance of those habits being carried on into adulthood and ultimately, hopefully, helping our planet last just a little bit longer.
Even recycling plastic bottles can make a huge difference. “Americans buy almost 30 billion plastic water bottles every year and 8 out of 10 will wind up in a landfill. Recycling just one of those conserves enough energy to light a 60 watt light bulb for up to six hours; it’s like throwing away petroleum, it’s just insane,” Rebecca said.
Below are some ways you can make a positive impact on the world.
Some easy ways to make a difference
Want to do more?