Pacific Garbage Patch: There's a what?
As shocking as it sounds, yes, there is an island the size of Texas floating somewhere between California and Hawaii, and it's made entirely out of plastic bags and other "trash."
This floating island of trash is also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex, and it grows each day whenever people use plastic bags and other items they don't bother to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
The picture above shows the carcass of a bird which has decomposed, but the plastics ingested by the bird are still intact! I suppose gastrointestinal hydrochloric acid and other digestive enzymes are just not strong enough to break down all that trash spewed into the environment by humans.
Inevitably, some of the plastic bags end up in the ocean, killing birds and suffocating seas turtles and other marine life. Ever watched "Finding Nemo"? Instead of happy-go-lucky sea turtles with Australian accents surfing the warm currents, imagine those same cool surfer dude turtles gagging and suffocating, with their heads wrapped in a plastic bag they can't remove with their flippers, and then dying the slow agonizing death of drowning as they sink lifelessly into the ocean depths.
Melodramatic imagination aside, factually, plastic bags kill more than 100,000 sea turtles and other marine animals each year because they mistake them for food. A floating plastic bag looks just like a jelly fish, which turtles love to eat.
It is estimated that each square mile of ocean contains some 46,000 bits of plastic and a plastic bag in the environment won't decompose for more than 1,000 years. This means that the trash we throw away might be picked up by our grandchildren, just without the "grandpa/grandma wuz here" written all over it.
Plastic bags are made from crude oil. It takes 430,000 gallons of crude oil to produce 100 million plastic bags. Think that's a big number? Think again. The U.S. goes through 380 billion of them a year. Some European countries have already banned the use of plastic bags, but for some odd reason, the U.S. is lagging behind such eco-friendly measures.
Paper bags are no better. More than 14 million trees are felled each year to make paper grocery bags. Manufacturing these paper bags are also an energy intensive enterprise not at all reflected in the really cheap prices of paper bags.
Plastic bags are not only an eyesore, they are quickly becoming an ecological hazard. So, please help protect and sustain the environment by using reusable canvas bags whenever you shop for groceries. Whenever possible, reduce, reuse, and recycle.