Saturday, 9 June 2012

Waves of plastic

We went down to the seafront today to collect rubbish washed up by the recent storms and the amount of plastic was unbelievable.

I read somewhere once that there is an island in the Pacific composed entirely of floating plastic, washed there by various currents meeting together. After doing some reading, I found out that there are five major gyres, the largest of which is in the Pacific between Hawaii and California, with several smaller ones in Alaska and Antarctica, the North and South Atlantic, and most recently, the Indian Ocean and South Pacific. However, despite the large areas they cover (the North Pacific Gyre is estimated to cover an area approximately twice the size of France), they aren't solid 'islands' of crap, just a vast floating plastic soup whirlpool.

Plastic never fully degrades but slowly breaks down into ever-smaller particles which are ingested by birds and sea creatures and inevitably therefore us, eventually. Looking at the sand on the beach today I realised a large amount of it was actually sand-shaped balls of plastic, something I don't remember seeing before in such huge quantities.

It made me want to never buy another piece of plastic again.

The plastic I've gathered today I want to make into cards/artwork which will have some facts about plastic pollution on it somewhere.

Another project to add to the never-ending list of things to do.

Read more about the Pacific Gyre here and here.

"According to the UN Environment Programme, plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals. Syringes, cigarette lighters and toothbrushes have been found inside the stomachs of dead seabirds, which mistake them for food." Independent Feb 2008

The Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition (Seaplex) off California in 2009 estimated that "the fish at intermediate ocean depths in the North Pacific Ocean could be ingesting plastic at a rate of roughly 12,000 to 24,000 tonnes per year". BBC News May 2012


  1. Hi Chloe, I've read about these Islands of Garbage, too... kind of incredible, really. A recent episode of the TV show 'Touch' features scavenging on the Pacific Coast for items from the tsunami... and I just saw the most amazing picture (last week?) of an entire, enormous dock that came ashore... I think they called it the biggest piece of flotsam ever. I, at the very least, cut the rings that connect six packs apart before disposing, in order not to strange sea creatures and birds... but as you wisely point out, best not to buy plastic in the first place!

  2. 'strange' should read 'strangle'

  3. and one more thing, if the 'prove you're not a robot' glyphs get any harder to read, my commenting days will be over!

  4. Oh crap, I didn't realise I had them on here still... I hate them too! Thanks for your comments, Dee, I feel like I've only just woken up to the whole plastic problem, like you I've always snipped six-pack rings, and tried to avoid buying too much packaging, but the size of the problem is quite frightening..

  5. I love the photo of all the plastic you have gathered up off the beach from the rotten storms, the colours reminded me of contemporary modern artwork so full of colours and so shouting aloud toox

  6. Hi Faith! Glad you like it, the colours are great aren't they? At some point I really want to make some artwork with these pieces to capture that chaos of colour and random shapes.


I love reading your comments, thank you for taking the time to write ♥


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