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Plastic Soup

Did you know that there is an enormous soup of plastic litter that floats somewhere between California and Hawaii?

You are at the beach and decide to roll up a message, put it in a bottle, and throw it out to sea hoping it will reach land.

Please don’t follow through with that thought. The bottle will most definitely make its way to the middle of the Pacific Ocean and possibly become lunch for marine life.

In the ocean, the plastic waste which has so carelessly been discarded by humans accumulates in a “massive, slow rotating whirlpool”, also known as a “gyre”.

There are 5 gyres: North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic and Indian Ocean Gyre. The most famous and researched gyre, is the North Pacific Gyre or The Great Garbage Patch.

So just how big is this “soup of plastic” in the North Pacific you might ask? Some experts state it is twice the size of Texas. While others argue it is approximately the size of the U.S – 3.8 million square miles. Some even insist it could be twice that size. No matter, it is still a gathering point of a vast amount of ocean trash. And, that is only information for 1 gyre, there are 4 more.

Take a look around you – I am sure most of what you will see is plastic, made from petrochemicals such as crude oil and natural gas. Plastic has been made to last forever. However, we dispose of it almost as fast as it is produced and it does not fully decompose in the environment. Much of this plastic eventually ends up in the ocean, if it has not been recovered for recycling.

Toys, plastic bags, plastic bottles, pacifiers, and toothbrushes, all trash that we have created on land runs into our oceans by means of storm drains and watersheds. The trash can fall off of garbage trucks, over-flows from trash cans or may be it was thoughtlessly tossed away.

Once the plastic debris and trash make its way to the ocean, the sunlight and waves eventually break up the trash into smaller and smaller pieces, but it never completely dissolves.

Now, where the problem truly lies is that marine life mistakes all these little pieces of plastic for food. Birds, mammals, sea life are dying of starvation and dehydration with their stomachs full of plastics which came from plastic bags, plastic bottles etc; the fish are absorbing the toxins at such an alarming rate that soon they will no longer be safe for human consumption.

A teenage sea turtle was recently found dead with 317 pieces of plastic inside its stomach. It is believed the ingested plastic is what lead to the sea turtles death. Disgusting! This is just one example of the millions of sea creatures that are affected by the sea of plastic.

“The pesticides that you spray on your dandelions run off into the oceans and end up in the food chain, which ends up back in our plates. It’s a closed system. Everything’s connected. We’re all connected with the planet in very fundamental ways.”~Fabien Cousteau, you know Jaques Cousteau’s grandson

So there you have it. Everything we are doing or not doing is impacting the world we live in. The ocean is a beautiful thing and if we are not careful it will become an even bigger trash can. Imagine a world without marine life- no fish, no sea turtles, no whales, no dolphins. I believe that if we keep trashing the planet and our oceans we will be left with nothing.

Next time you think it’s a great idea to leave your plastic bag at the beach. Please think of the helpless sea creatures that just maybe, will think it’s a nice light snack.

Sources: 5 GyresGreat Garbage Patch and Oprah-Green Articles

photo credit: Kevin Krejci via photopin cc

Reader Interactions


  1. Harry says

    Great post! The 5 Gyres crew just finished sailing through the last of the 5 gyres in the world. All 5 are garbage patches. Plastic bits swirling in every single one (though the North Pacific is the worst, followed by the North Atlantic). It’s just shocking that we’ve done this in 2 generations. Thanks for your blog & your outreach & your basically being freaking rad.

  2. Kathy says

    Hopped over to follow back. Love your blog, tweeted the plastic soup. I’ve had older friends (70’s) tell me that they don’t believe it’s true. Of Course they would say that…it was their generation that made the messes we now have to clean up. Hope all our countries get together to clean up the plastic soup! We have lost 85% of the reefs and wild oysters are functionally extinct. Wonder what it will take to get people to clean up our precious oceans…also I wonder if it’s too late.

  3. Saving Your Green says

    Hi thanks for following my blog Saving Your Green via the Bee Friendly Friday Hop! I thought I would hop back and follow you too! I don’t know too much about being green but I sure can save some green! 🙂 Surprisingly they often go hand and hand.

  4. Jessica K says

    Thank you for posting this! People just don’t know what their trash does to other living beings. I also liked your quote about corn fed beef. Have you seen Food Inc.? I have, and it changed the way I look at all of my food. If you haven’t ever been to this blog, check out http://www.100daysofrealfood.com lots of info and recipes for eating all natural, non processed foods! Thanks for stopping my Mom 4 Real and commenting! Following back, and can’t wait to read more!


  5. Luana says

    Awesome post! Yes I’ve seen the plastics and other “soupy” ingredients in our oceans here on Maui. Our beaches here are just not what they used to be and its very heartbreaking.

    btw, thank you for visiting my blog! I’m following you via GFC


    • Good Girl Gone Green says

      I think I just watched a short video clip about how parts of the shore in Hawaii have turn into garbage dumps…from all the trash coming in from the ocean. Is that possible? I wish people would be more considerate!

  6. Laura says

    It is always amazing to me that people think their one little bit will not have an effect on the environment, yet how quickly it builds up to destroy our water and lands.

  7. Monica says

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    This was a very informative post! I’ve heard of the garbage patch before, and being as I love animals, think it’s horrible. People are very inconsiderate these days the planet. Hopefully we can teach future generations to be more responsible.

  8. Frugal in WV says

    Great post, the bird picture is disturbing! I try to reduce our plastic consumption by buying few prepackaged food products. It’s a work in progress though, because I do use plastic produce bags and plastic milk jugs, still working on those. Thought provoking post!

  9. Lisa says

    Following your blog from today (via blog frog)..trying to live green, particularly after watching Food, Inc. Great posts. As a decorator I also believe (very much) in green design.

  10. lisa says

    This post is a great reminder of thinking twice before doing something. All of those messages in a bottle were looked at as something fun to do/try and I’m sure nobody even really thought about the impact it would have on the ocean and the species that call the ocean their home.

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