There’s a swirling gyre of plastic in the Pacific Ocean, and it’s getting bigger every year. Despite being called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex, it’s not an oceanic landfill as you might expect – the patch is made up mostly of very small pieces of disposable plastic trapped by ocean gyres, and the plastic can be so small that even if you drove a boat through the very heart of this patch, you might never realize it was there.
It can be hard to fathom the problem of plastic in the world’s oceans. They are such vast places, and the disposable plastic we toss away is so small, it’s difficult to visualize the more than 8 million tons that end up in aquatic ecosystems every year. Art commissioned by the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida was designed to help us see just what is ending up in the oceans, and to get us thinking about the ways we can reduce disposable plastic consumption.
A new initiative is trying to clean the ocean by curing a century’s old social addiction: our unceasing use of plastic.