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Debris in the Sea: Problems. Solutions. Actions.

November 7, 2017
Raise your Voice (2010): Midway – Message from the Gyre (2009) / Chris Jordan

albatross on Midway Island by Chris Jordan


We know the problem:

Concerned? What to learn more? Here’s a 2012 three part one hour video about a journey from Los Angeles toward Hawaii. During the voyage, they took samples of ocean water and filtered it to see how much plastic was in the ocean in different places.

And by now most of us know that plastic water bottles are a huge part of the problem — but just in case you don’t, here’s Greenpeace’s Annie Leonard to help:

In the seven years since this video came out, little has changed. Much of the plastic that we think we are recycling goes not where. In Ventura, people put codes 1-7 in their bins, but only codes 1 and 2 are actually recycled: the rest goes to the landfill. Reports continue to filter into the media about our plastic materials that we think are being recycled that are actually getting shipped overseas — where they are being dumped.

Companies like Patagonia aside, less than 10% of plastic actually gets recycled into a new product. It is not that viable at this time. It is cheaper to just make more plastic. Instead, use glass or aluminum — these products are desirable as recyclables, and in fact, in some cases, it is cheaper to make new products out of old bottles and cans than it is to start from scratch.

Research by Patagonia shows that even washing our clothes is contributing to plastic pollution in the ocean:

“During laundering, a single fleece jacket sheds as many as 250,000 synthetic fibers—significantly more than the 1,900 fibers Browne first recorded. Based on an estimate of consumers across the world laundering 100,000 Patagonia jackets each year, the amount of fibers being released into public waterways is equivalent to the amount of plastic in up to 11,900 grocery bags.”

How do we grapple with the magnitude of this problem? How can we keep the sea free of debris? What can we do about plastic pollution?

Consider the following: in the blog post Chris Jordan: Melting the Ice in the Heart,  I quote Jordan as saying:

“Beach clean ups are like drying off with a towel while being sprayed with a hose.
Cleaning up a beach does nothing when you’re generating more suffocating trash.”

What you do depends on YOU. Start with something small. You never know where it might lead.

This Thanksgiving and holiday season, be appreciative for what you have, and be aware of what you’re buying. Where did it come from? Where will it go when it dies? How can I recreate, reduce, reuse, and finally recycle?

Bureo, a new company recently relocated to Ventura, is taking the following approach. What other companies or sustainable practices can you support this holiday season?

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