north pacific garbage patch

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Sea Soup: Mandy Barker’s Photo Collages of Ocean Trash

Scientists have informally dubbed the discarded human waste accumulating in our oceans with a number of names: “soup,” “trash vortex,” and most nobly, the “Great Pacific garbage patch.” The last term makes particular reference to the exceptionally high relative concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre, one of the five major oceanic gyres on the planet. Gyres, large systems of rotating ocean currents, are the largest ecosystems in the world and, more recently, ground zero for massive accretions of plastic trash. In researching this phenomenon, UK photographer Mandy Barker developed a series of images entitled ‘Soup’ which depicts these plastics and discarded items salvaged from beaches around the world. Presented in beautifully precise, color-coded arrangements, the collected objects appear as a taxonomy of unique species in a toxic “ecosystem.” The images also underscore the longevity of even the tiniest pieces of trash: though haphazardly discarded and forgotten, they form an ever-growing environmental issue. Barker’s project, by bringing a seemingly remote subject into clear view, compels us to address this elephant in the room.

Garbage in our Ocean

Between Asia and North America is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is about twice the size of continental United States.  Located inside the North Pacific Gyre, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is filled with at least 100,000,000 tons of micro plastics,marine debris, and fishing gear. A gyre is essentially a natural vortex in the ocean. Lots of the trash we do not throw away often ends up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by wind and ocean currents. The trash is severely harming the marine ecosystems of living things. Plastics leach Bisphenol A , a deathly chemical.

Our world’s oceans are the largest ecosystems and the largest support for life. We need oceans to survive. 97% of our water are in oceans , and oceans generate half our oxygen that we use to breathe. Oceans are also essential to our security and economy.

80% of the garbage comes from land, and 50% is plastic. In order to reduce the amount of garbage going into the gyre, the government should require stores to charge a price for plastic bags. Less people using plastic bags will result in the less littering of these plastic bags. Charging plastic bags will encourage consumers to use reusable bags when shopping.  Many other locations in the United States are already charging fees for plastic bags. Washington D.C. has a five cent fee on plastic bags. California has 67 different ordinances on 88 municipalities that prohibit or charge plastic bags. Texas has 9 different ordinances covering 9 municipalities.  Washington States has 11 ordinances covering 11 municipalities. Countries such as Denmark and Bulgaria charge taxes on plastic bags, too. We must do our best, as humans, to prevent the destruction of our ocean systems.

Save the Mermaids!

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The North Pacific Garbage Patch is a giant island of trash located in the Pacific ocean between California and Japan. The Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas and weighs 3.5 million tons. It’s the planet’s largest landfill. It is made up of garbage such as plastic bags, plastic bottles, etc. 80% of the debris within the Garbage Patch comes from land and the other 20% comes from cargo ships.