Continually learning about sustainability is a life long passion of mine. When I was in elementary school I always wanted to check out books like “50 Things Kids Can Do to Save the Planet” or anything having to do with the outdoors or outer space was definitely getting added to my stack. I still love to read books and watch documentaries on the topic of green living. Staying informed keeps me inspired to keep finding creative ways to reduce my impact.
I think film is a great way to share and bring light to topics that are not widely known or understood. I’ve had some big “light bulb” moments that have lead to me changing my behavior after watching a good documentary, but sometimes I’ve found watching documentaries can feel pretty overwhelming…Anyone else?
The movie is about the environmental problem often referred to as the “Great Garbage Patch” or “The Pacific Trash Island”. It is frightening to think of miles and miles of plastic pollution floating in the ocean and what devastating effects it’s having on the ecosystem.
The best part about of the screening was at the end of the film one of the scientists who was in the film was there and took questions from the audience. She explained that there is not one big island of trash floating out at sea. There are no mounds of plastic floating about, but that it is TONS of little pieces and bits floating in high concentration. I can’t lie my mind was blown…science is so cool.
She went on to explain that there are 5 Gyres in the oceans and these are the driving forces creating all of the currents throughout the ocean. The movement of these Gyres causes all the plastic pollution to continually move throughout the oceans; collecting in these Gyres in high concentrations before they move on with the water currents. She said that in terms of cleaning up the ocean it would be easier if it was all collected in one place like a “trash island” but sadly the miles and miles of tiny plastic trash are continually moving throughout the ocean making the problem much harder to handle.
The other mind blowing fact I learned from her is that the recycle numbers on the bottom of plastic items refers to the type of plastic resin used to make that item. Only some of those resins actually float, others sink. Are you ready for the crazy part? The type of resin that single use plastic water bottles are made of is one of the resins that sink. Single use plastic water bottles are the most used plastic item in the world! Scientists have no idea how many pounds of these bottles are at the bottom of the ocean and what type of effect they are having on the ecosystem. Que my heart breaking.
So often with documentaries it feels like doom and gloom (at least for me), but I’d rather leave you with some hope. I want to share what I learned and hopefully inspire you to take a a few easy steps to reduce your plastic waste to help alleviate this dire problem facing our oceans.
5 Ways to Reduce Plastic
- Choose to eat at restaurants that uses reusable dishware and don’t take your leftovers home if they only have Styrofoam. Better yet bring your own Tupperware.
- When you order a drink at a restaurant simply say, “I’ll have a ____ with no straw please”.
- Reusing all single use plastic items even just one more time before recycling them can cut the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean by half.
- When you see litter pick it up and throw it in the trash or recycle. 80% of the plastic that is currently floating around in the ocean started on land and the number one cause of that 80% is litter.
- Just say no to single use plastic water bottles buy a reusable bottle and if you already have one (which I have a feeling you might ;) buy one for a family member or friend.
Going out and meeting others that also care about the environment is fun to do. I totally recommend that you check out your local environmental non-profit(s) and see how you can get involved. Learning more about the state of our planet is never a bad thing. I left feeling more informed and ready to take actions that I know will help make a real difference.