The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is greater than we ever thought. And by greater, I mean worse.
According to research published last month, it’s “increasing exponentially and at a faster rate than in surrounding waters.” The slurry of trash and seawater loosely held together by Pacific currents spans 617,762 square miles, roughly twice the size of Texas. So yes, this garbage patch could mess with Texas and probably win.
The growing patch of garbage is chock full of all sort of things, chief among them plastic. An estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of it weigh in at 80,000 tons, according to the Ocean Cleanup Foundation. Of that, 46 percent comes from discarded fishing nets alone.
But what ends up in the patch doesn’t stay there. The foundation also notes that sea turtles living in the region have a diet that consists of up to 74 percent plastic (no, that’s not missing a decimal). Other animals also consume plastic as it breaks down into smaller pieces. Those animals in turn get eaten by bigger animals. And because plastic is forever, it eventually works it way up the food chain and can even end up on our plates. Basically, we’re eating the plastic we don’t dispose of properly so think of that next time you go to grab a straw or ask for a plastic bag.