Allow me to tell you about an island. This island lies in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii. However, it’s not a place to visit or to take a vacation. This island is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch also known as Garbage Island. According to the Algalita Marine
Research Foundation it is approximately twice the size of Texas. It contains lightbulbs, bottle caps, toothbrushes, Popsicle sticks, and tiny pieces of plastic, each the size of a grain of rice. Here is a link to the site: http://www.greatgarbagepatch.org/
It was found by accident in 1997 by Captain Charles Moore, a researcher and advocate for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, while he
was returning from a sailing race in Hawaii. As captain he ferried scientific researchers on his 10th voyage out to the Garbage Patch this year.
According to an article in the New York Times, “Plastic is the most common refuse in the patch because it is lightweight, durable and an omnipresent, disposable product in both advanced and developing societies. It can float along for hundreds of
miles before being caught in a gyre and then, over time, breaking down.” The dictionary defines a gyre as a ring like system of ocean currents rotating clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Toxins do not dissolve in water; however plastics absorb them like a sponge. Marine life mistakes these bits of floating plastic as food and consumes them. In an article on ABCnews.com, a sample that Charles Moore took from the floating mass held 6 times more plastic than plankton, which is microscopic algae and protozoa, important to marine life. Eventually, they come right back to us in the form of the seafood and fish that we eat. So, in other words, we’re not only harming others with our lack of recycling plastics, but we’re poisoning ourselves as a result.
Fifteen billion pounds of plastic are produced every year in the United States alone. I’m going to focus on two of the most widely used plastics, bottles and bags. First I’ll start out with giving you some statistics on the consumption of these products. And then I will give you some tips on recycling them. It’s true that there are literally thousands and thousands of plastic products we use in our everyday lives. This isn’t really the problem; it’s how we dispose of them. We can help eliminate this overwhelmingly bad situation by learning how to recycle plastic.
We are simply throwing plastic bottles and plastic bags away in the trash, on our highways and in our waterways. Now I’m going to give you a few statistics about plastic bottles.
- Americans purchase
29.8 billion plastic bottles per year
- Almost 8 out of 10
bottles end up in a landfill
- Manufacturing of
plastic bottles consumes 4 percent of energy consumption
Here are the results of recycling plastic bottles:
- Recycling a single
plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60-watt light bulb for up
to six hours
- Recycled plastic
bottles can be made into products such as clothing, carpeting, detergent
bottles and lumber for outdoor decking.
- Producing new plastic products from
recycled materials uses two-thirds less energy than required to make products
from raw (virgin) materials. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Now for plastic bags:
- 4 to 5 trillion bags
are made every year
- 380 billion are
thrown away each year
- Only 1 percent of these
bags are recycled
- They are in our
environment constantly, in our forests, rivers, streams and even in our
- It takes 1000 years
for these bags to break down
Here are some tips for recycling both the bottles and the bags.
- Check with your
local waste management department to find out what plastics are recycled in
- Check the bottom of
containers to see what type of plastic it is, it will have a number inside the
recycling symbol which is in the shape of a triangle and this number will be
between 1 and 7. 1 and 2 are the most common recyclable types of plastic
- Reuse plastic bags
- Use cloth bags or
one made of hemp
- Recycle bags by
returning them to the store. Most of them have a bin when you first enter the
- Crocheting plastic
into reusable items, such as bags, purses and even rugs.
In conclusion, this is everyone’s problem. Not just the environmentalists or the EPA. Everyone suffers from our neglecting to take recycling seriously. It doesn’t take a whole lot of your time and it can only benefit our home, Earth. Leave the earth to our children, their children and their children in a condition they can live with.