Photo by The Green Bag Lady
Many of the people involved in researching this problem say it stems from our waste stream, the recycling cycle and our habits and behaviors. The plastic problem is inherent to the way we live, as Clive said about plastic, “we couldn’t hardly survive without it.” He believes the answer lies in compostable plastics and a plastic recycling system that doesn’t downgrade. He is involved in consulting for companies that are attempting to create plastics that can be remade thousands of times without degrading in quality. He believes that someday we will see a “closed-loop system” where plastics are not thrown away, but remade into something of equal or greater value. Plastic comes from oil after all, and oil is a finite resource – we can’t go on like this forever.
Every plastic bag, plastic bottle and plastic net has a likelihood of ending up in the environment and if it does, it will eventually make its way back into our food chain — plastic degrades into tiny pieces and fish consume them. As Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation says, “the ocean is downhill from everywhere.” Though my personal plastic research adventure has ended and I’ve regretfully said goodbye to the rest of the crew, I promise to return home and take the memory of this research with me. A new mantra for us all: single use plastic is not a singular problem – it is a far-reaching and destructive force that we’ve got to work together to eliminate.
Inhabitat Writer and Video Producer Brit Liggett was chosen by Electrolux to be a crew member on the latest 5 Gyres expedition. She is traveling along the southern coast of Chile helping the crew of the Sea Dragon study plastic pollution along the Chilean coastline. This post is sponsored by Electrolux