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This is what our ocean trash looks like

January 09 2013 | Water, Plastics,

Have you ever wondered what our trash looks like in the ocean?

Maybe not... you may have already seen enough of it first-hand.

Well... humor me... here is more of it.

To make this interesting think of this as a "ocean trash around the world" show and tell.

I should start by thanking our pals at 5Gyres as they were the ones who created these samples. Check them out here. Follow them on Twitter @5Gyres.

This first bottle is from Easter Island's high tide line.

You may not know exactly where Easter Island is, so it's worth clicking here to see its location on a map.

The plastic in the bottle is from the high tide line on local beaches. The inferred point is that the plastic below the high tide line is still in the ocean. One thing I've learned first hand from visiting beaches far, far from the major continents is that there is plastic on every single one of them.

This next bottle is from the North Atlantic Gyre.

Click here to see where all the gyres are. As you'll notice, there are five major gyres on the planet (thus 5Gyres name).

5Gyres collected this trash from the ocean. Specifically they collected it from the Saragasso Sea.

You may notice the plant-like element in the bottle, that's saragasso (essentially seaweed).

This sample offers a simple reminder that our plastic trash, even when it breaks into smaller pieces, does not exist in the ocean by itself. It's mixed in with all the other animal and plant life that is supposed to be in our oceans.

When you read about 1,000,000 sea birds dying every year from ingesting plastic this bottle should give you a simple visual example of why that happens.

The simple truth is that 4% of single-use plastics are recycled, everything else is elsewhere. Ending up in the ocean is one of the options for plastic.

We are working hard to minimize plastic trash from entering the oceans. In the last few years we've won 55 fights that directly limit the use of single-use plastics.

Last we have a sample from a shipping disaster last year.

In July of 2012 an estimated 150 tons of plastic nurdle pellets were dumped into the ocean near Hong Kong.

This waste entered the ocean during a storm where six cargo containers were swept into the sea. The next morning "plastic white snow" started washing up on local shores."

Plastic nurdles, like the ones in the bottle to the left, are used to create plastics. They look a lot like fish eggs so it shouldn't be a surprise to learn that animals eat these plastic nurdles and then we eat those animals. We are at the beginning stages of understanding what that means... what it means for our plastic trash to work it's way up the food chain and into our bodies.

Three samples, from three different regions of the planet.

Rise above plastics, learn more about how to here.

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