Today on Planet 100: The Pacific Trash Vortex Explained (Video)
Today, on Planet 100 we're taking a deep look at the Pacific Trash Vortex. The what, where, who, when, why, and how is explained in 100 seconds. Consider it Trash Gyre 101.What?
What exactly is the Pacific Trash Vortex? Well, it's a huge floating mass of trash twice the size of Texas that has the dubious honor of being the largest landfill on the planet.
90% of this trash is plastic, 80% which originates on land with the other 20% coming from seafaring vessels and, eh hem, oil platforms.
The name might give you a hint that Pacific Trash Vortex is located in the Pacific, but did you know that it's actually two separate vortex's of trash?
The Eastern Garbage Patch floats between Hawaii and California while The Western Garbage Patch forms east of Japan and west of Hawaii. The two are connected by a super long current called the Subtropical Convergence Zone.
Who's responsible for this mess? Humans, especially those in the developed world who are consuming, discarding and replacing mostly Chinese-made plastic crap at an ever-accelerating rate.
The U.S. has 5% of the world's population but consumes 30% of the world's resources and creates 30% of the world's waste.
No-one knows exactly when Great Pacific Garbage Patch began to form but we do know plastic has been around for the past 144 years and except for the small amount that's been incinerated every bit of plastic ever made still exists.
Given we're churning out about 60 billion tons of it, much of it disposable, it's no wonder monsters the like the Great Pacific Vortex have been created.
Why do we care about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Because its killing more than a million birds and marine animals every year who consume or get caught in plastic debris.
Check out artist Chris Jordan's photos of albatross on Midway for some graphic proof. Worse, the Pacific Trash Vortex is only one of five massive trash vortices, which together covers 40 percent of the world's oceans.
So how do we stop it? Each of us tosses about 185 pounds of plastic per year, much of it—like PVC rubber duckies—toxic. We need to start by stopping.
Do we need all those plastic toys and plastic bottles? Can we say no to plastic bags and bring our own canvas grocery bags? Can we commit to recycling?
By reducing, reusing and recycling we could reduce our waste stream by 50% or more, a major step in fighting the growing Plastic Trash Vortex. More ideas? Share them on our Youtube page.
Read more about the Pacific Trash Vortex on Planet Green:
An Ocean of Plastic...In Birds' Guts (Slideshow)
Could We Clean Up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Even if we Wanted to?
QUIZ: Whats Your Ocean Pollution IQ?
QUIZ: What's Your Oceans IQ?
Read more about the Pacific Trash Vortex on TreeHugger:
Cartoonist Explains the Pacific Garbage Patch With Talking Sealife (Slideshow)
Pacific Trash Vortex Could Signify Future of Our Oceans
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (Slideshow)
Plastic bottles ©iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Plastic underwater: ShiftLogic
Shipping vessel ©Comstock/Thinkstock
American shoppers ©David De Lossy/Thinkstock
Assembly line ©George Doyle/Getty Images
Plastic toys ©Comstock/Thinkstock
Plastic bags ©Martin Poole/Thinkstock
Recycling bins ©Thinkstock
VIDEO of GYRE: courtesy of MNN.com
VIDEO of Midway Island: courtesy of Chris Jordan