Mired in Gyres: Signs of a Throw-Away Culture


The recent search for Malaysia Flight 370 has illuminated another (what should be) global concern, about something that has been quietly lurking and growing out of sight and out of the collective mind for years. After the repeated reports of masses of mystery objects floating in the open ocean, one can’t help but wonder what they are and how they all got there. There is a great blog post from March 31st by Joshua Keating/ Slate.com that introduces this phenomenon: Searching the Plastic Seas.

Far more serious and insidious than the big pieces that can be seen from high above, is the infinite flood of tiny pieces of plastic that swirl in enormous garbage patches in the ocean, called gyres. These are areas where plastic wastes are swept up and concentrated by large ocean currents. In the North Pacific, there is one that is estimated to be the size of Texas! However, it is hard to fully comprehend the size of these vast areas because we can’t define them clearly from satellites or any other arial views.

If you have 7 minutes to spare, this TED video talk presentation on the Seas of Plastic by Charles Moore will blow your mind, and give a very interesting visual introduction to what it is, what it means, and how it effects all of us. Please make the time to see it. Here is a quicker text and visual overview from 5gyres.org.

Many of us are from a generation that never had to learn to save or re-use things. And there is such an abundance of things available to our every whim. If something is broken, whatever it is, we just buy a new one. Convenience trumps everything, even common sense at times. But, it is certainly hard to pass on all of the many conveniences and easy living of modern life. Where do we begin in changing the ways of a “Throw Away” culture?

by Cora Rivard, N.D.

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