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Go Green: Bye, Bye Plastic
Pardon our French, but plastique c’est le worste. Its reputation is less than stellar, and might we add, deservedly so. In the United States, every second of every day 1,500 plastic bottles are discarded. Americans send more than 38 billion water bottles to landfills every year, the equivalent of 912 million gallons of oil. If laid end to end, that’s enough bottles to travel to the moon and back 10 times. Holy moley!
The worst thing is that only about 31% of plastic bottles will make it to a recycling bin, and even if they do, they will never be recycled. You see, plastic doesn’t get recycled, it gets downcycled. That is, it loses quality and volume in the recycling process so that an old bottle will never turn into a new bottle. The remaining 69% of plastic bottles will go directly to landfills and to our oceans, where they will slowly break into smaller and smaller pieces, but will take about 1,000 years to biodegrade (good news for your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren).
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
The rumors are true… There is indeed a huge floating patch of trash in the Pacific Ocean. Exactly how big is this “patch”? Well, scientists estimate that it’s about the size of Texas (or about 121 million football fields!). It turns out that close to 10% of the plastic we use each year ends up in the oceans. In fact, 90% of ocean trash is plastic. A portion of it floats and is carried by currents to the middle of the Pacific, forming the garbage patch.
Once a piece of plastic makes it to the ocean, it begins a process known as photodegradation (do we sound smart, or what?). This doesn’t mean that the plastic slowly disappears, but rather that the sun’s beautiful rays break it down into tiny little pieces. These eventually become so small that they get ingested by marine life and enter the food chain.
Learn more about the garbage patch over at GOOD (they’re awesome).