The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is 16 Times Larger than Previously Estimated

The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organization that is focused on “developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.” Based in the Netherlands, they are a team of researchers, engineers and oceanographers who are working to save our oceans, one piece of plastic at a time.

The Ocean Cleanup has spent the last two years collecting and counting samples of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), and have just concluded that it is up to 16 times larger than previous studies have estimated.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a large collection of plastic waste floating in the Pacific Ocean, located between California and Hawaii. It has been found to be over 1.6 million square km, which is over three times the size of France, or two times the size of Texas. The researchers estimated it to be made up of over 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, which is equivalent to 250 pieces per every human in the world.

That is a LOT of trash.

This should be a wake-up call to everyone, that we should be doing everything we can to prevent trash from ending up in our oceans. This plastic is killing sea creatures and ruining oceanic ecosystems. There are many small things that you can do to insure that you are minimizing your plastic waste, so that we can stop the GPGP (and other similar patches) from growing at exponential rates.

1. Recycle.

As obvious as it seems, there is a lot of people out there who do not take recycling as seriously as they should. For whatever reason they may have, it cannot be emphasized enough that every little bit helps, and every item recycled is one less item that ends up in an overflowing landfill, or in our oceans.

2. Use a reusable water bottle.

Using a reusable water bottle is a greatly underappreciated tactic to reduce waste. By replacing just a single plastic water bottle per day with a refillable bottle, one person can prevent 365 plastic bottles from going in the trash every year. On the UMass campus, many of the Brita fountains have a count of how many plastic bottles they have saved, many of them in the tens of thousands.

3. Bring your own bags to the grocery store.

By using your own reusable cloth bags for your groceries, you are saving multiple plastic bags every time you go to the store. If buying them is a turn-off for you, simply remind yourself that it is a one-time price, and many grocery stores charge five or 10 cents per plastic bag nowadays, so the reusable bags will eventually pay for themselves with the money you are saving from that!

Even just by doing these three small things, you will greatly reduce your amount of plastic waste that you are contributing to the environment. The Ocean Cleanup plans on removing up to half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the next five years, which is truly a remarkable feat. If you wish to contribute to The Ocean Cleanup, you can make a donation here.

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