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Sponsor Post: Waste in Our World: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Learning about the ways that human waste can affect our world is one of the best methods for understanding and helping to prevent waste problems. One huge problem our environment is currently facing due to human waste and littering is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

What is it?

Contrary to what the name "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" conjures up, there isn't actually an obvious floating landfill in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Instead, the garbage patch is more like a loose conglomeration of bits of debris, especially very small pieces of floating plastic. The debris ends up in a collection when it gets caught between different currents and is essentially swept into a certain area.

You can't see the garbage patch from a plane, and, in fact, you could be smack in the middle of it without even realizing it, since, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "These plastic pieces are quite small and not immediately evident to the naked eye."

Problems caused by the garbage patches

Although you hear the most about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, there are other patches of garbage in oceans throughout the world. Of course, these patches of garbage cause many problems, including disturbance of the ocean life in the area. Also, they're incredibly difficult to get rid of! According to the NOAA  ". . . straining ocean waters for plastics . . . would capture the plankton that are the base of the marine food web and responsible for 50% of the photosynthesis on Earth . . ."

What can you do?

Since the garbage patches are nearly impossible to clean up, the best thing you can do as an individual is to keep them from getting any larger. Here are a few concrete steps to take in order to do this:

  • Reduce your use of plastics wherever possible. Use reusable shopping bags, and buy items packaged with less plastic!
  • Recycle responsibly whenever you can.
  • Start recycling programs in your school or workplace.
  • Do some research about how waste is treated in your local landfills, and advocate for the most responsible possible ways to get rid of waste.

About Recycle San Diego

Recycle San Diego is the area’s preeminent provider of recycling services, including electronics recycling, battery recycling, ewaste drop-off and pickup services and business waste management. Recycle San Diego also offers ewaste collection events, hard drive destruction and paper shredding services. Learn more at RecycleSanDiego.org.

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