Great Pacific Garbage Patch

by Lindsey Carberry

What is It?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a patch of trash, garbage, plastic, etc. sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, estimated to be either as large as Texas to as large as two of continental America.

It's also referred to as the Pacific Trash Gyre, Pacific Trash Vortex, or Pacific Garbage Patch.

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Causes

The main cause of the great pacific garbage patch is the lack of recycling. While 75% of waste is recyclable, only 30% actually gets recycled.The average person generates about 4 pounds of trash every day, and 1.5 tons a year. That adds up to 200 million tons of garbage each year in only America.

Litter from beaches and other coastal places often gets pulled away into the sea because of ocean currents.

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Solutions

There hasn't been any good solution to this problem. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is so big (estimated to be larger than the United States) any attempt would waste time. Plus, some of the plastic has broken down into small pieces of plastic, called micro-plastics. These would be hard to clean up because of how small they are.


One thing we could do to slow down the creation of more garbage patches is to reuse, reduce, and recycle. Stricter laws could be put on littering, which would over time decrease the amount of garbage being put in landfills or becoming litter.

Why It's Global

Trash in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch affects all animals that live in the oceans. Micro-plastics can be found everywhere. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch hurts sea-life incredibly. Fish often mistake micro-plastics for food, and end up hurting themselves. They can also act as sponge pollutants. Rings from six-packs and fishing line get stuck on sea creatures, and some suffocate.

Garbage often ends up on the beaches of Hawaii and other coastal areas. This discourages beach-goers, and can hurt beach businesses.