While many extoll the benefits and virtues of recycling, we have become a nation of complacent recyclers.
Each week we sort the things that can be recycled from the things that cannot, and roll our bins out to the street where they are collected and further sorted before being hauled off to commercial recycling facilities. We pat ourselves on the back for doing something for the environment.
Too frequently, however, we simply forget or we place our plastic in the wrong container. Perhaps on the way to a recycling facility, a plastic bottle slips out of the can or a storm knocks over the bin. That plastic bottle will begin a long, and unfortunately uninterrupted journey to its final destination — a swirling gyre of garbage in the middle of the ocean, part of 8 million tons of plastic that makes its way into our oceans each year.
We are beginning to understand just how disastrous these floating garbage patches –some twice the size of Texas — are to the global ecosystem and consequentially, our own health.
The overlooked connection is happening in our own backyards. Plastics are funneled toward major bodies of water by an immense system of urban storm drains, small ditches and creeks, and eventually rivers, before being emptied into the world’s oceans.