Plastic Islands–Our Oceans are Us January 23, 2010

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. “
Margaret Mead

“This picture is a close up small of plastic suspended in the ocean”

See NYT article listed in the permalink for more images and information

January 23, 2010


In a short while I will be off to my local farmers market to buy some very good bread and goat cheese, both of which, I know will not be wrapped in plastic.  This has been a hard week for me, plastically speaking.   I have been working in an elementary school with some lovely fifth graders.  Smart kids–and interesting.  It has been engaging to work and talk with them. They are interested in the world and we have worked well together.

Once again, as I talked with them, I realized the ubiquitousness of plastic.  “Where does plastic come from?”, I asked each class.  And these kids, so willing to answer questions just looked at me—-I got answers like–trees, or plastic comes from plastic—

We got around to figuring out that plastic comes from petroleum, but what I was reminded of again, is that plastic is an integral part of our everyday lives.  If you spend a minute in almost any school cafeteria you will see that.  Plastic silverware wrapped in plastic, Styrofoam soup cups, mustard, ketchup, etc in those disposable packets.

Just last year, I knew this, but was ignoring it. None of this is going to change anytime soon.  My job here, right now, is to observe.  Last week, I ate my hot dogs without mustard and did not complain.

What I did do was show the students the pictures I had downloaded from the NYTimes article of Nov.9, 2009, by Lindsay Hoshaw,  showing the pictures of the islands of plastic our oceans are collecting.  “the ships make the waste”, the kids say and that is partially true, but what I realized or have been thinking about since Oprah talked about it on her show on Earth Day, 2009, is this.  All that trash by the side of the road, all of those plastic bags floating down the road, all of those Styrofoam cups rolling around–go to our streams, which go to our rivers which goes to our oceans.  It is simple.

The next time you take a walk, anywhere, if you bother to look around a bit, I am almost sure that very quickly you will see some of that shinny clear plastic that covered a straw, or a plastic toy from a fast food chain, or a piece of candy.  Just look and you will see it.

It is there.  What do you see?

If you have gotten this far, thanks for listening to me.  I have posted the links to the NYTimes article by Lindsay Hoshaw.  At a lunch the other day someone told me that the Captain of the ship in the article was on the Daily Show, or maybe the Colbert Report.  Next post I promise to chase down that link for you.

My Saturday is a Sunny one, reader, I hope yours is as well.

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