A thousand miles off the coast of California floats the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mass of plastic trash whose exact size is unknown but some experts say is bigger than Texas. Where does it come from? Some of it can be traced back to the U.S. Only 7% of the plastic Americans consume gets recycled. The bulk is thrown into landfills or, worse, into our rivers, lakes, and oceans, where fish consume toxins that attach to the plastic. Then we consume the fish. Not good.
Back in the mid-zeroes, I remember reading a lot of stories about a buildup of trash in the Pacific Ocean so massive that it had formed a floating island of waste the size of Texas. Its colorful nickname was the Great Eastern Garbage Patch, and what was even more mind-boggling than the purported scale was that pretty much the only places you could dig up any substantial info about it were in minor oceanographic and environmental publications. You also couldn't find a photo of it to save your life. It was like Garbage Brigadoon.