Researchers are finding that ocean currents carry plastic pollution -- cigarette lighters, plastic bags and other trash -- from the world's coastlines to the middle of its oceans. Two experts answer your questions on the impact of plastic ocean pollution.
Aside from recycling, what can I do to help solve this problem? What did people use before everything was packed in plastic? I feel like everything I buy comes in plastic, so even if I recycle, I'm still contributing to the problem.
Charles Moore responds:
We need to reduce our use of plastics, especially single use throwaways. We need to design products for ease of recycling in a "cradle to cradle" system. We also need to substitute biodegradable plastics in many applications.
Holly Bamford responds
Thank you for the efforts to help reduce the marine debris problem in our oceans. In addition to recycling, you can also make educated consumer choices about the products that you buy. Many products on the shelves today are made from recycled materials already, and even though they are still plastic, they are not adding to the growing number of new plastic material being made. Purchasing reusable items such as cloth or canvas bags, or even bags made from recycled plastic bottles, can also help reduce debris.
One challenge that we pose to people when they ask what they can do is to think about how much trash you produce each day. Is there a way that you can cut back on it? Perhaps bringing your own container to restaurants for leftovers to reduce the use of Styrofoam containers, or simply bringing a travel mug with you when you visit your favorite coffee shop.
Participate in local beach or community cleanups. Tell your friends what you are doing and encourage them to do the same. These seemingly small steps can go a long way towards reducing and ultimately preventing marine debris.