Our Plastic Ocean

Sea anemones colonize a shard of plastic found in the Pacific Garbage Patch

The world’s oceans are overflowing with plastic. Every year, around eight millions tons of plastic is unceremoniously dumped into our oceans (Lauren Parker, National Geographic, 2015). Plastic is an everyday part of life on earth, and I challenge you to spend a day where you don’t encounter it. It’s in our face washes and our utensils, we wrap it around the food we eat; and it is now one of the most common pollutants of ocean waters worldwide. Corralled by winds, tides and currents, plastic particles converge with other trash in our oceans to form large swirling accumulation zones or ‘garbage patches’. These zones are known to Oceanographers as gyres, and together, they comprise as much as 40 percent of the planet’s ocean surface — roughly 25 percent of the entire earth. For a size comparison, that’s about the size of the continents of Africa and Australia combined.

Tackling the removal of these patches is a formidable challenge, the largest of which is located in the Pacific Ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as it is known, is often said to be twice the size of Texas. NOAA has estimated that cleaning up a mere less than one percent of the North Pacific patch, would take at least 68 ships working 10 hours straight each day, for a year. (Lauren Parker, National Geographic, 2013). Artist and scientist Bonnie Monteleone, along with her team at the Plastic Ocean Project, have decided to take on this daunting challenge by innovating ways to “mine” for plastics of all sizes, and encouraging public outreach through art.

Sea anemones colonize a shard of plastic found in the Pacific Garbage Patch

The Plastic Ocean Project has worked to bring awareness to the growing pandemic of marine plastics across the country by turning it into art and —> Read More