Boaters stumble on massive Caribbean gyre of plastic garbage

This is horrible…but I’m curious why a flotilla of marine skimmers can’t collect the trash like we do during oil spills?

Surely we have the technology and wouldn’t the concentration of debris be an ideal place to start?


I often wonder if there is economic value in the garbage: the organic material as compost, the plastic as recyclable, if it could be sorted …or ground up first and then sorted …or sorted electro-visually or something. I am totally making this up. If ground up finely enough, metals could be magnetically or centrifugally removed. I mean, it’s a mine of free raw materials, isn’t it?


And put it where?


At least we will be safe from the Kaiju when they attack…

1 Like

Probably some mix of surface tension and wind (the former might be made worse by surface pollutants). It’s a very still day, which helps.

Reminds me a lot of duckweed, which is natural, if not always a sign of a healthy body of water.

It’s not just the big bits that are a problem.

1 Like

The small ones, at any rate.

We just need someone to invest in it and put people to work. We could even call it “disruptive.”

Maybe the tech broids could take a break from destroying bodegas and disrupt pollution instead?

1 Like

Yeah, you’d probably want to be careful just jumpin in like that…


One can choose to withdraw one’s own consent.
Withdraw from participating in this particular objectionable madness.
Chart your own course.
Maybe it’s a little harder because not every solution here is so immediately obtained easily (unless Amazon has it–hell, does anyone actually buy stuff from brick-and-mortar anymore, besides goofy ol’ rebellious me?).

Fight the power, @nixiebunny. Do not be seduced by the quick easy plastic-y solutions to life’s needs when there are viable alternatives. I am not talking about medical equipment, contact lenses, safety glass, and the myriad other things that have no suitable consumer alternatives to plastic.

Stick it to the… oil man. Take your power back. You’re smart. I feel dumb even writing the following. Perhaps yer not the man I’m preachin’ to but for what it’s worth:

How many people here know the joys of merino wool? You can get a red beanie that–though it lacks the Team Zissou Life Aquatic imprimatur–is so damn comfy and soft you’ll want to wear it every day until your last day on this planet. Yes, proper merino wool is that good. You’ll want to clutch it like a teddy bear when you’re having a bad day. Merino wool is practically medicinal. I do not overstate. (And when you’re done with such a hat, it composts fine if the moths don’t eat if first.)

  • and and well dammit ok I did have to go and mention Amazon:

  • Please, everyone, for the love of Jah: just stop with the fricken bottled water thing already. It’s mostly stupid, mostly barely-filtered municipal water supply water, and unless you live right along the southern half of the Mississippi River or you live in Flint, Michigan, tap water is likely not going to kill you. Really. Fiji water, Gerolsteiner, Perrier etc. have beyond-obscene carbon footprints. If you hate the taste of chlorine in your water, try the Brita Sport bottle which is made of dang plastic but averts the bottled-water-treadmill. If your water is bad where you live, you can collect rainwater, get a Berkey Filter or buy decent faucet filter, then fill up portable vessels at home. You can get reverse-osmosis filtered water at some of the larger grocery stores, bring your own (glass) jugs. America, c’mon and get your shit together. If you need to bring a water bottle some place, consider an old glass jelly jar, or, if you want to be all safe and tote something unbreakable (maybe your kids are as clumsy as mine) use these or any of the many clones thereof: . At secondhand stores I see these for $5. Plan ahead. Protip: every soda fountain in America is basically contractually required to use dechlorinated water in their fountain drinks because hey peeps–chlorine makes Coca Cola / 7-Up / Mountain Dew / et al taste like crap. You want filtered water? Find a soda fountain and press the “water” button to fill that jelly jar you brought from home.

  • I have (mostly successfully) bitten my tongue re: all the plastic crap that bOINGbOING sees fit to purvey in its amusing, mostly thoughtfully curated online store. Why o why the cheap plastic crap? Crap that breaks or wears out in no time, and then gets thrown away. Forget the phthalates for a minute. Forget the endocrine disrupters found in plastics. Forget bisphenol-A. Forget the offgassing of plastics unless you’re asthmatic or chronicially and seriously ill. Forget the polluted skies over Houston, Texas, where the plastics industry is mouth-to-teat next to the oil refineries, and all the other places on Earth where plastics are manufactured with even crappier environmental protection laws. Forget the typically avoidable buy-in to the Petroleum-archy for cheap plastic trifles that we very likely could live without. Forget all that. But remember this: cheap is expensive. Plastic crap is repeat business, something to buy and rebuy every time it breaks. And those damn externalities associated with plastics are exactly what you see in that video of the massive Carribean gyre of floating plastic garbage.

  • and and

Never give up your power.


Your power is your own power.
You own it.


“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” — Jane Goodall

ETA: verbs; nouns; how the hell do they work?



Oh and… bust people who do ocean dumping as “waste disposal.” I think most fishermen in the world can get support that idea, since it’s dumping that destroys aquatic biota. Don’t ask me how we get dumpers to pay. Press gangs for people caught trashing our oceans?

“All of that stuff was in a
human’s hand at one point or another,” Wilcox says. “The essence of the
solution is to provide incentives for people not to throw this stuff
away. It is the cheapest, simplest, and far most efficient solution to
the problem.”


Don’t be so sure…


Fine, but I can do all that and it won’t change the world’s mess more than .0000001%.

Laws prohibiting the manufacture of plastic crap will not be put into place as a result of me doing anything including screaming my head off.


But if you don’t, your .0000001% may be the one that damns us all. At this rate, somebody is going to push us past the species extinction tipping point.

People who have kids are the ones who can make the most difference, but we all have to give up plastic for superior materials everywhere we can. If any of us begs off because our individual contribution is too small, then we all lose.

@ChuckV, don’t worry, we have krypton cobalt - it’s full of mercury!

EDIT: It’s been a long time since I saw Godzilla .vs. the Smog Monster!

1 Like

At least stop tossing them on the ground. I never see pop or sports drink containers along walking trails, but the water bottles are everywhere. Is there some delusion that water bottles are more natural?


I wouldn’t worry about the fossil record. It’ll all be taken care of billions of years from now when our sun balloons out into a red giant and frizzle-frys the Earth.

1 Like

I see plenty of beer cans too. Those eventually degrade I suppose…

Me, I actually don’t think bottled water tastes as good as some tap water, or even well water. Well water, as irony as it can be, can be really good tasting after a hard workout (one presumes because your body is craving iron for recovery).

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.