22 June 2017 - We go to the beach to see its natural beauty. If we're lucky, maybe we'll see a dolphin flopping off in the distance, or a whale exploding plumes of vapor above the surface. We never go to the beach to see trash, and yet it's always there. Obviously, the garbage is full of stuff people don't want, like old toothbrushes, flossers, cigarette lighters, shopping bags, popped balloons ... I could go on and on. As you know, most of this junk is made of plastic.
Since most of the disposable plastic can't get recycled it just sits in landfills, releasing toxins. Tons of it journeys down our waterways, into the depths of the oceans or pushed onto the beaches — and most sadly, stuck in the bodies of just about everything that lives on our planet.
Join me exclusively on MNN as I reflect about the impact that human behavior has on our fellow Earthlings. As you can tell, this piece is about the immense problem that's bleeding into our oceans: disposable plastic.
Let's take a quick trip to Midway Atoll, which is located between North America and Asia — in other words, an island in the middle of nowhere. Just a few dozen people live there, and yet the tiny patch of land is completely littered with human-produced garbage.
The garbage that's strewn about is not new — it takes quite a long time to reach Midway via the ocean currents. While the plastic is floating around in the ocean, it accumulates algae particles on it, and this algae confuses seabirds, like the Laysan albatross, into thinking the plastic is food. For instance, small lighters are often confused for squid bodies.