Plastic Plastic Everywhere: The 5 Gyres Project

If you have been following my writings here at Care2 or on my blog you’ve most certainly heard about the plastic mass that is floating out in the North Pacific Gyre. The gyre, one of several in the world, is a vortex of currents swirling inwards that lies between California and Japan. Like a toilet bowl that never flushes, it’s filled with plastic debris from man made items. So much so that from the first time it was studied until now, it has grown from the size of the state of Texas to twice the size of the continental United States!

How do I know this? Simple, my friends, Dr. Marcus Erikson and Anna Cummins, along with a bevy of other scientists, have traversed it, not once, but several times, in order to study what is actually happening out there. And what they found is truly disturbing. While the plastic soup is not concentrated, meaning you wouldn’t be able to see it from the air, once you get in the water, it can’t be missed. Thousands of tiny confetti-like pieces of plastic, filling otherwise pristine waters, waiting to be ingested.

And that’s just what happens. Petroleum based plastics break down, never completely, but over time getting smaller and smaller. As they do, fish and birds eat them and carry them forward. Some of the animals die. Some live on. And some are eaten by larger animals. As bigger fish eat smaller fish, the plastic particles and the myriad cancer-causing PCBs that they attract from unburnt fuel that falls on our oceans, move up the foodchain, and eventually onto our plates. As if Mercury wasn’t enough to worry about right?

As I mentioned, the North Pacific is only one of the Gyres in our seas, so Marcus and Anna and their colleagues have set out on the 5 Gyres project, a series of voyages to study the other 5 major gyres in the world, mostly in the North and South Atlantic. Presently they are studying the area between the US Virgin Islands, crossing the Sargasso Sea, and then ending in the Azores. Along the way they will collect samples, document debris and movement patterns, and report on what they are finding. They will also be stopping to speak with local officials on how to deal with this problem and make people aware of what they are finding.

In August they will be traversing the South Atlantic, from Rio De Janeiro to Cape Town South Africa, an area that has been left relatively undocumented. Then they will embark on a North American Speaking tour, traveling over 2000 miles by bicycle, in order to bring attention to what we are doing to our oceans.

While I think its important for everyone out there to understand this problem that we are creating, I think it’s more important to offer some ideas on how we can fix this problem. The simplest way to start is by not buying plastic. I know that seems ridiculously simple, and in many ways, impossible, but keep in mind, cutting your plastic consumption in half is better than not cutting it down at all.

Head to the store and see if you can do your shopping without buying any single use “disposable” packaging. If you’re like most Americans, that’ll be tough. Having said that, once you are aware, start buying what you can that uses no, or at least non-plastic recyclable/compostable packaging. But don’t stop there. When you get home, fire off a letter or email to the makers of the products you are no longer buying and tell them you stopped buying from them because of their packaging and will be happy to start again once they step up and fix the problem they are creating. Your message might not have an impact, but trust me, 100,000 of them will and you can be a part of that.

Want to step it up? Start writing to your representatives and tell them about the gyres. Ask them about considering legislation where manufacturers have to consider the endlife of their packaging. Why should we pay with our taxes to deal with packaging we don’t want in the first place?

Finally, if you are really gung ho, start leaving your packaging in the store at the counter–tell them you don’t want it and they need to deal with it. Again, one person is a nuisance, but 10,000 is a call from the store to the manufacturer and the message will get through.

There are certainly other ideas, but knowledge is the first step. Check out the 5gyres site for more ideas on what you can do, to donate to the cause and follow their exploits, and to spread the word.

Thanks for reading.




Sancho Gracia P.

A great testimony I must share to all cancer patients in the world. My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 primary liver cancer in
March 2013. The doctor told us there was not much to be done since the tumor was 7 inches covering his lower lobe and also had
spread to his lymph nodes. We decided to go home and called hospice which gave us morphine for pain. Ed hated the morphine which
made him vomit and also affected his mind. After one week at home we decided to do what we have done for many years, rely on
ourselves.We were only in Hospital for 3 days with severe Pain. The cancer had blocked his bile duct, after that we choose a
Naturopath doctor and have not had conventional treatments. one day i came across the use of cannabis oil for treatment of cancer
and i saw a post on how a cancer patient was cured with cannabis oil. I urgently needed help and i contacted the email :( to get the cannabis oil, i was given instructional guide on how to use it. After taking a gram
of oil per day. Within a couple of weeks his pain and swollen stomach disappeared and with it came hope and a good quality of
life. We never saw an ocologist and only have done a blood test after the first diagnose CT scan. His tumor marker went from over
6000 to normal and he is feeling well. We don’t know how this is going to play out, but enjoy every day and give thanks. As i am
writing this post, my husband is free from liver cancer and the doctor confirme

Josh Townsend
Josh Townsend6 years ago

I wish we could just cast a net and scoop it right up

Maria S.
Maria S6 years ago

I was very sadden to watch this video. Thanks for sharing.

Valerie G.
Valerie G6 years ago

Saw this on Oprah...Sometimes I just fell so helpless... I try my best, but it feels like nothing changes...
Anyway, thank you Dave...

Grace A.
Grace Adams7 years ago

PLEASE somebody buy one of the "everything to oil" pressure cooker mini oil refinery contraptions for each of the gyres and set them to work turning that plastic into something between crude oil and number 2 diesel.

John D.
Past Member 7 years ago

This video is very disturbing, but I want to relate another way that shows how bad plastic is for the environment. On Big Pine Key, Florida (in the Florida Keys), there is an old rock quarry called the Blue Hole, which is the home to one or more alligators. In April of 2008, we found our 9' male gator floating dead. The necropsy determined that he died from swallowing a 2"x3" plastic toy turtle. Alligators love to eat turtles, and he was able to swallow it whole, but it became lodged at the opening from his stomach to his intestines. He died a very slow, painful death from a major blockage.

plastic spring

Jennifer Blan
Jennifer M7 years ago

"Give people the facts, and they'll choose to do the right thing."
The sad thing is that it's not always true. I live in Texas. I try to tell people about these things. I show them videos and photos and stories about the horrible things we're doing to animals and the planet. Most of them don't care at all. They still eat meat 4 times a day and use plastic everything. It's horrible. It makes me really start to dislike people. How could they not care??

Francine P.
Francine P7 years ago

Thank you for this article and Lilah's comment.Awareness, ideas and encouragement really help me to change my habits.
it takes effort, but I am getting better every day.

Sara D.
Sara D7 years ago

This is really sad.

Linda Mills
Linda Mills7 years ago

everyone, please sign & share:
than you so much