Why We Need Plastic Alternatives

It turns out, you can learn things from the comics page….

In my daily perusal of gocomics.com, I learned something new. Zack Hill, by John Deering made reference to a plastic trash island floating in the Pacific ocean. I was skeptical. Of course, I am about most things.

One of the most pressing questions about its existance is: if it’s so big, why are there no photos? The Oyster Garter (no I’m not making it up) blog provides a good analysis (all links are courtesy of The Oyster Garter, the bongo trawl links don’t seem to work…).

The most common misconception is that the trash pile is like an island, or a dense pile like this one in San Diego Harbor. It’s not packed in as tight as that – it’s more like a dense collection of tiny floating pieces of plastic, most of which are not on the surface. A big container ship or naval vessel going through there would probably not notice much out of the ordinary – after all, there is some degree of plastic trash floating on the surface all over the world.

To really get a sense of how much plastic is in there, you have to do a trawl, which entails dragging a net with a bucket on the end behind your boat. Here’s a photo of a bongo trawl taken off of southern California. (Credit: Barbeau Lab, SIO) And here’s a photo of what a normal bongo trawl should produce – lots of zooplankton, a few invertebrates, and the occasional small fish.

The widespread pollution caused by our “throw-away” society and our lack of concern for the consequences of our actions are putting the planet – and all life on it – in peril. While there are no easy answers, the Green party commitment to Ecological Wisdom and Future Focus and Sustainability (two of the Ten Key Values) puts the party ahead of the curve in working to keep the Earth inhabitable for all species.

Humans have made a huge mess of the environment and we have the responsibility to stop, clean it up, and promote policies that preserve and protect our only Home for ourselves and future generations.


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