Pacific Plastic

Today is Earth Day. Perfect time to do the “3 days of lights out” on the tank. It’s a also a good time to think about the impact we, as individuals, have on the world around us. At home, we try to be as prudent as possible in regards to the environment, but when it comes down to it, we’re just as culpable in some way or another as our neighbors, down the street, on another coast, or across the pond.

On the drive back from lunch last week I was listening to The Story on NPR, one of my favorite radio programs. The story was told by Captain Charles Moore, who, in 1997 was dumbfounded by what he saw on a trip across the Pacific. I also found myself in disbelief listening to Moore give the report of his original findings compared to now, 10 years later…

According to research done by the group with whom Captain Moore works with, pieces of plastic in the Pacific Gyre outnumber the zooplankton by 6:1. Eighty percent of this plastic in the ocean, an estimated 100 million tons, comes directly from us, our waste…

Podcast of the story from

Captain Charles Moore was sailing the Pacific in 1997 when he came across a large patch of plastic trash. His discovery shocked him, and compelled him to do research on the amount of trash in the ocean.

His recent findings are alarming: much of of the world’s plastic waste has ended up off the western coast of the United States and the eastern coast of the Philippines. One floating garbage heap contains 3.5 million tons of junk, 80 percent of which is plastic.

Captain Moore talks to Dick about the problems plastic waste causes for marine and plant life, and why it’s crucial to change the way we use plastic now.