Great Pacific Garbage Patch

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Feb 22, 2023, 12:42

The world is struggling with the overuse of plastic and its disposal. Much of it ends up in our oceans, polluting our water bodies and posing a grave danger to wildlife. Since we consume seafood, the pollutants make their way into our food chain, causing health risks.

Definition of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a large swatch of floating plastic in the Pacific Ocean. The massive size of the patch and the density of plastic waste are major environmental concerns.

Formation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Garbage patches are formed in all oceans as disposing of plastic waste in the ocean has been a practice for decades now. The ocean currents move these patches, and a large amount is collected as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It was first discovered in 1997 and has been a cause of grave concern since then.

Causes of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The debris found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made of large and small pieces of plastic. The large pieces of plastic float on the surface of the ocean. When large animals like dolphins and whales swim, they get entangled in the debris.

Effects of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The smaller parts of the plastic sink into the ocean floor and some of it floats in the water column. Sea creatures mistake this for food and consume plastic, eventually killing them.

The debris patches from the ocean enter the human food chain through seafood consumption. Since the sea creatures consume plastic and we consume the sea creatures, plastic pollution enters our bodies.

Apart from impacting our health through our food, the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch also impacts the environment. When exposed to sunlight, plastic garbage releases greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming. Given the massive size of this garbage patch, it is a significant threat.

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Prevention of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Owing to the increasing media focus on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, efforts are on to remove the garbage before it hits the sea. While these efforts continue, it is critical to take measures not to pollute the oceans.

Recycling plastic is an effective way to avoid letting plastic waste into the environment. More importantly, it is critical to reduce the production and use of plastic, especially single-use plastic.

The world is waking up to the amount of damage we are creating for the environment through a poor waste management system. Governments must take clean-up drives and levy plastic taxes to solve this problem.

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Individuals must become responsible in their use of plastics. Reducing the use of plastic, switching to sustainable options, and responsible disposal will go a long way.

Without a concerted effort by everyone, the planet is in grave danger. Hopefully, the measures taken to solve the problem will make our oceans clean again.

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FAQs on Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Q1: When was the Great Pacific Garbage Patch discovered?

Scientists discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 1997.

Q2: How did the Great Pacific Garbage Patch come into prominence?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch gained popularity through a series of articles written by Ken Weiss in the Los Angeles Times in 2006.

Q3: What can plastic taxes do to solve the Great Pacific Garbage Patch problem?

A plastic tax can limit plastic production and encourage best practices of waste management, reducing the size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Q4: Where is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch located?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California.

Q5: How big is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the size of Texas.