The swirling vortex of death – our plasticized ocean

I couldn’t help it when a groan slipped out while reading yet another email about horrible, terrible, very bad plastic. Another outcry against the toxic, non biodegradable stuff, killing the poor innocent creatures of the ocean, blah blah blah. All this while  sitting comfortably in my warm home, sipping tea to my heart’s content.

I live so far away from the Texas-sized swirling vortex of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean and all the litter lining every shoreline on earth. It’s easy to ignore one little email and go on with my day when I’m not face to face with it.

Well, lucky for us that there’s a group of guys who decided to make it their business:

For three years, Bryson Robertson took to the seas with some friends from his native South Africa and documented the global plastic catastrophe. Robertson is still trekking across the planet, giving presentations on his voyage and warning against the dangers that plastics impose on the ocean.

The scary:

  • 50% of plastic floats. It sits at all levels of the water column, which affects fauna and flora through the entire ocean. It sits innocently,  mimicking  a jellyfish, and then BAM, a turtle dies because it mistook it for lunch.
  • Just clean up the beaches, you say? Sadly, only 5% of beach garbage isn’t plastic. The bulk of the garbage breaks up into little pellets, making it very difficult to collect.
  • There are 5 permanent gyres in oceans where plastics & other debris accumulate. Five plastic islands.
  • While plastic bottles can be recycled where facilities exist, you can’t make a new plastic bottle from it. In other words, you can REcycle it, but not DOWNcycle it.

So this brings us to the  familiar  song and dance. Reduce your plastic intake, drink tap water, and tell your family and friends about it. It’s a great song, and dancing is always fun when people join in.

In other words, our local actions have global consequences, and you should be able to feel good about making a difference each time you bring your own bag on shopping trips. It isn’t anything to groan about.

Like me, you’re probably changing your wardrobe to acclimate to the Canadian climate. While you’re tucking away your Bahama swimming shorts and  flowery  tank tops, make sure to shelf apathy and indifference. You may rather be sitting  beach-side  with a mojito watching the sun set, but that fantasy may become nothing but en empty fish bowl if we don’t each take steps towards protecting the plants and animals that live in the tropics.

5 comments

  • did you actually mean to write this? doesn’t sound logical:

    While plastic bottles can be recycled where facilities exist, you can’t make a new plastic bottle from it. In other words, you can REcycle it, but not DOWNcycle it.

  • Hi Roni.
    Thank you for your note. While it isn’t intuitive, what I wrote actually is not a typo at all.
    The distinction between the terminologies simply means that while a plastic bottle can be recycled, it cannot be re-processed into another bottle – but the plastic from a recycled bottle can be used to make something else of a lower quality grade. In other words, you can’t pass one bottle down to be another bottle. We will always have to make new bottles until the end of time.

  • is not a very good example of journalism.

  • @this: Just what part is not a good example? The research? The good, informative writing? Wait, maybe it’s that the writer seems to have an opinion you don’t share.

    Or just maybe you’re one of those folk who subscribe to the belief that all “real journalism” shouldn’t have a bias, all the while ignoring the fact that there is no such thing as unbiased writing – be it in the words chosen or the facts omitted, the opinion of the writer always comes out. In most mainstream media, it usually comes out to the benefit of corporations like bottled water companies, too.

    This is an environmental column (read: opinion piece) written by an environmentalist, so this is a good example of what journalism should be.

  • Thanks for your comment “This”. I would love to hear your direct feedback so that I can be a better journalist. Anonymous comments are surely the most popular way to voice your opinion and I’d love for you to enlighten me and the readers of Forget the Box Magazine on how to improve editorial articles, and journalism in general.

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