Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Our Oceans Are Turning Into A Plastic Soup

Ed Begley Jr.
Excerpt from:
Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them
By Ted Danson, Michael D'Orso

"Plastics have betrayed us like a cheating spouse. Early in the dating process, we were smitten, to be sure. He made everything so damn easy. From feeding us, to picking up the dry cleaning, even taking out the trash, he was eager to help at every turn. He was clearly well-to-do. He had earnings in the billions and employed workers by the millions. It was hard to not fall in love, and we soon became wed to this new way of life. Sure, he changed over the years. He was so controlling. He started inserting himself in every aspect of our lives, but the thought of divorcing seemed impossible. What about the kids? They loved him and the toys he provided with every happy meal. Some friends tried to warn us, but we accused them of being jealous. Of having their own agenda. When they wouldn't shut up about it, we simply stopped talking to them. And we found a way to justify it all, because we were simply in too deep. Until that day a few years back, when we drove down to the coast to take in the view, and there he was, caught in the act. The rain had flushed his lies out in the open and they sat there before us, as far as the eye could see. And we quickly learned that it wasn't just in our town. Of course, he had an explanation. It was a onetime thing. What we had witnessed wasn't his fault. It was because of the rain, or faulty storm drains. He promised he'd never do it again. But soon we couldn't ignore the facts. It wasn't restricted to the coast. He was cheating us everywhere. In out lakes, rivers, and streams. On land, and yes, even in our bloodstream. It turned out ... he was slowly poisoning us! We decided we'd get away to think things over. We went out in the middle of the ocean to clear our head. See if we could not think about him for a while. And, there he was. Caught worse than before. Out here he was known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and he was cheating on families in every corner of the globe. He was working this same scam everywhere. He had a gull in every port...choking on plastic debris. And, countless other sea birds, fish, and marine mammals. Clearly WE needed help as much as he did. So what were we to do? We formed support groups, like: www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org. And we slowly got some recovery in our lives and started to spread the word. We hope you'll do the same."

To many of us Midway Island is distant and is perhaps disconnected from our daily lives. However for my fellow BGI students, Cortez Island is much closer to home. It is where we were all introduced to the BGI culture at orientation and is an example of how global the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean has become.

Business can be part of the solution, Method a San Francisco based company that makes eco-friendly home cleaning products and personal care products is one example. Method Unveils Bottle Made of Ocean Litter. Recycling plastic is something many of us do every day, the reality is that recycling plastic is not as easy as  you might think. The future of ocean plastic recycling is one example. The staggering amounts of plastic that humans generate requires bold thinking and innovative technology. The good news is that progress is being made and the problems associated with a "throw away" mentality are beginning to get the attention they deserve. We can't clean up all of the plastic in the oceans, but we can stop adding more. Please do your part; avoid using single use plastic products and packaging, bring a reusable bag when you go shopping, look to buy drinks in glass bottles, pick up some plastic litter and dispose of it properly.


  1. Great information Ben,
    Loved the videos, very powerful stuff. In fact, I just spent the last hour watching related videos.
    Thank you for your blog, and the passion you bring to the subject.

  2. Ben,
    Thanks for this post. While we have a working knowledge of some of these problems (and solutions) here at BGI, i'm glad you're bringing it to a wider audience.

    Thanks for including a call to action, as well. We CAN make a difference, one small step at a time.


  3. Powerful post! Thank you. It's interesting. I think that many many years from now people will be looking back at our time and asking, "How could people have burned fossil fuels!" Oil makes our plastics. There are many vitally important things we could and do do with plastics. As your final video points out, plastics are very precious and valuable. The amount of waste of fossil resources and plastics is stunning. It's so important to change our throw-away paradigm!