We’ve written a few times about our world’s addiction to plastic and the disastrous effects this addiction is having on ecosystems everywhere. A new film called Midway is tackling the subject with a new perspective. They directed their attention to the poisoning of the albatross with plastic pollution on Midway Island (where 70% of the world’s albatross live). In their own words Midway “explores the interconnectedness of species, as the albatross on Midway as a mirror of our humanity.”
Most of the plastic that is carelessly discarded by humans eventually finds it’s way into the nearest waterway and eventually finds it’s way out to sea. Huge circular ocean currents called the gyres suck the plastic in and break them down to bite size pieces for fish and birds. Right now there is an estimated 100 million tons of plastic in the north Pacific plastic gyre, which is roughly about the size of Texas.
We know that this plastic never decomposes or biodegrades, but instead it just breaks into very tiny pieces. So why isn’t this plastic being recycled and reused? The main problem is education. People don’t think twice about taking a single use plastic cup and straw from a fast food restaurant, using it for 5 minutes, and tossing it on the side of the road. We take a trip to the grocery store and bring home 10 or more plastic bags that were used for 10 minutes before being thrown away. These items get washed out to the gyres where they are seen as food to fish and birds. We of course end up consuming some of these fish…so we are actually eating our own plastic waste.
There is some hope. A genius Dutch teenager invented some technology to use the currents to our advantage to passively collect the plastic from the ocean for recycling. His name is Boyan Slat, and his company is The Ocean Cleanup. We are also finding creative ways to replace plastic and styrofoam with organic materials that can easy break down when disposed of. Right now, a company called Ecovative is producing a 100% biodegradable styrofoam replacement that is made out of mushrooms. We have created this mess, and it is our innovative and creative thinkers that are giving us hope.
Take a few minutes to watch the trailer for Midway. Share it with your friends on social media. Become aware of biggest environmental cleanup in history, and try to find a way to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Keep all of this information in the back of your mind every time you pick up a piece of plastic that is mean to be “disposable”. Realize that when you throw something away, there really is no “away”.