Thursday, August 7, 2008

What I Learned at the Baltimore Aquarium: Take 2

Besides seeing amazing frogs and looking at rays swimming gracefully in floor-to-ceiling windows (here is a little video of the rays):

I also learned about the huge piles of plastic trash that are floating around the ocean, killing marine life. Contained by the ocean's natural currents, these piles are almost like huge islands of plastic trash. The largest of these garbage swills is known as the Pacific Gyre, or:

It is roughly the size of (hello!) Texas, containing approximately 3.5 million tons of trash. Shoes (those jelly shoes end up somewhere!), toys, bags, pacifers, wrappers, toothbrushes, and bottles too numerous to count are only part of what can be found in this accidental dump floating midway between Hawaii and San Francisco.

Even though there are dozens of marine life and aquatic organizations working to do something about the plastic gunk, amazingly, there is no effort underway to clean the mess.

Things you can do right here in DC to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean:

Use less plastic!!!!
  • less plastic shopping bags (use a reusable bag for carrying),
  • less plastic sandwich bags (use a reusable wrap),
  • less plastic bottled water bottles (use a SIGG water bottle and filter your own water),
  • let your vegetables co-mingle (don't put each vegetable in its own plastic bag; I usually just throw the vegetables in the cart/basket - nothing will happen to your vegetables if they co-mingle and the talented check out people understand to weigh all the peaches together. They are smart like that.)
Pick up the trash!
  • If you see plastic trash in the street, don't just walk by, silently cursing your neighbors . . . pick that sh*t up! and throw it in the trash or your recycling bin (if the plastic can be recycled). No, it is not that gross - just wash your hands before you put them in your mouth again. What? You don't put your hands in your mouth? Well, then you have even less to worry about.
  • Why? Because a major way that plastic trash gets out to the ocean is through municipal (yes, urban) sewers. Besides, when trash collects in catch basins, it can cause the sewer system to overflow. Read more about overflow here.


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