A Blue View: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Published January 02, 2013

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

January 1, 2013: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Listen to John discuss the serious impact the GPGP is having on our marine ecosystems.

Have you ever noticed a piece of trash or a plastic bottle carelessly discarded in the gutter? Someone may come along and pick it up. OR  perhaps it will make its way through the sewer into our streams and waterways, eventually ending up in our ocean.

Once there, it will follow the prevailing currents and either wash up on a beach or end up in one of the gyres that exist in each of our oceans. Gyres are large areas of calm water that are encircled by ocean currents formed by the earth’s wind patterns and rotation of the planet. Debris that drifts into these gyres stays there for years—pushed gently in a slow, spiral toward the center.

5 gyres

Approximately twice the size of Texas, the North Pacific Gyre, one of the more infamous, is commonly referred to as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch". This gyre is estimated to cover anywhere from 270,000 to 5,800,000 square miles of ocean.

Last year, we were happy to host our friends from 5 gyres during their "Last Straw Plastic Pollution" bike tour. They shared stories from their tour along the east coast to raise awareness about the GPGP and how we can lead plastic-free lives! 

Kick-start 2013 by reducing your plastic consumption: 

  • Forego the straw and the lid on your drink.
  • Bring your own reusable mug when you stop for coffee.
  • Stuff a trash bag in your pocket when you go for a walk and pick up the pieces of trash you see on the sidewalk, along the trail, or on the beach.
  • Choose products that come with less packaging.
  • Bring your reusable bags to all of the places you shop.
These are just a few easy tips. What other ways do you reduce your use of plastic at home? 
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