Water is our most crucial natural resource, and our planet is teeming with it: oceans, seas, rivers, and lakes that make life on Earth possible. But right now, these waterways are also some of the biggest dumping grounds for plastics and other human-generated waste. And in the Pacific Ocean, some of this waste is slowly turning into a single mass called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
You probably know it’s important to recycle plastic when possible and to dispose of your waste in responsible ways. But have you actually seen the cumulative effects of plastic pollution, all in one place? The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a dense, underwater collection of plastic garbage that makes pollution as real and visible as possible. Here’s what you need to know about this human-made mass.
Where Is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
This infamous patch of plastic got its name from the water where it floats: the Pacific Ocean. The patch is accumulating just below the surface of the world’s largest and deepest ocean, in a spot between Hawaii and California. If you’ve ever wondered where all the waste goes, this patch is a big part of the answer. It floats within the first few meters of the ocean’s surface, though its buoyancy and speed constantly change.
While the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the biggest mass of trash in our oceans, it’s not the only one. More than five trillion pieces of plastic are in the world’s oceans right now, including four other masses of accumulated trash.
How Big Is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
So, just how large is this mass of plastic waste? Right now, the patch is as heavy as 500 jumbo jets and contains at least 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. Because it’s much denser towards the middle and the entire mass cannot be measured, the true count could be as high as 3.6 trillion pieces.
Researchers have measured the patch since the 1970s, and the amount and variety of plastic has only increased over time. The current size is up to 16 times greater than previous estimates.
Are We Fixing the Pollution Problem?
Here’s the good news: this patch might not be a permanent problem. The Ocean Cleanup Project has been studying and analyzing this patch for years, and they believe that removing the largest plastic pieces is the first step toward combatting this problem. Using solar-powered electronics, their full-scale cleanup could remove half the mass in the next five years.
Of course, human habits must also change, or plastic will continue to accumulate regardless of our cleanup efforts. If we reduce the amount of plastic being produced and discarded on land, cleanup efforts could be effective enough to eliminate all the plastic in our oceans by 2050.
Are you generating a lot of waste during your latest cleanup or construction project? Make sure it never joins the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. At Debris Box, we offer dumpster box rentals and hauling services to make sure your home or business is responsible and your waste stays out of the way. Call 619-284-9245 today or request a free quote online.