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Expert: Massive Garbage Patches of Plastic Destroying Oceans

November 14, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Plastic is everywhere today: plastic bags from the grocery store, clothing store, pharmacy; plastic bottles for water; and now, there are five huge, Texas-sized, garbage patches in the world's oceans, consisting of discarded plastic.

Captain Charles Moore, who is credited with discovering one of those massive garbage patches in the North Pacific between California and Hawaii, says the majority of the trash comes from plastic bags and wrappings, and while they can't pinpoint exactly where in the world most of it is coming from, it is an enormous problem.

"It's got to the point where this global throw-away lifestyle has had an effect on the world ocean and it's turned it into what I call a plastic soup. Now we're up against a lot of problems associated with that; not intended, but unintended, consequences of living in the plastic age."

Moore, the founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, says the garbage patches are located in the North and South Atlantic, North and South Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, and there's lots of garbage floating in between. Not only is it unsightly, but Moore says sea creatures are eating the shards of plastic, and in turn, humans are eating those fish.

Tanner Council, a marine environmental advocate, says the majority of the trash his group finds every year is plastic bags, bottles and six-pack rings. He says one thing East Coast residents can do to help is to reduce use of plastic and to re-use it when possible.

"Using a reusable bag, or reusable grocery bags, are a big help. In a lot of cases if you go to the convenience store and you're just getting something small and they offer you a plastic bag, just say 'no,' conserve it. A reusable water bottle: it doesn't create any trash, it's yours, you can actually carry more water in it."

Moore says that while there are no easy solutions to cleaning the world's oceans, one thing we can do is become aware of the problem, and work to reduce the plastic that we throw away. He will be touring up and down the East coast to discuss the impact of plastic debris and his new book about the problem, "Plastic Ocean."

Les Coleman, Public News Service - FL