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Oprah Shines Light on Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Despite her recent gaffe with factory-farmed chicken and KFC, Oprah is great for one thing: bringing otherwise overlooked news to the masses. Sure, you and I might know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and wring our hands over the fish and birds that consume the nodules of plastic, but I’m sure that the average American does not.

That’s why I was pleased to hear that Oprah brought up the matter on her Earth Day episode.


Some highlights from the video:

  • In some places, the Great Garbage Patch is 90 feet deep
  • 90 percent of the 3.5 million tons is plastic. Think about how lightweight most plastic is; that’s a lot of water bottles.
  • In some places, there is 6 times as much plastic as there is plankton. Mmm…delicious food chain effects.

And other fun plastic facts:

  • There are actually 2 Garbage Patches: the Western and the Eastern. They commingle and stretch from the California coast to Japan.
  • Plastic debris kills more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals.
  • Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, but “photodegrades”. That is, it breaks down to microscopic pieces, entering the food chain at the lowest level. And we thought that we simply had to avoid buying plastic to avoid the creepy chemical effects!
  • The UN Environment Program estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean on Earth. That’s disgusting.

While I commend various cities and municipalities for their recent bans of BPA, perhaps we could all use a bit more restricting? Look at your plastic consumption. I’ll look at mine. And let’s see where we can cut back, shall we?


  1. Beth over at http://www.fakeplasticfish.com is asking for people to join her in tallying their plastic consumption for just one week to see how much they use and to find what they can cut back on. She wants you to email her your list to post it! I am a huge fan of Beth.

  2. When I saw that episode I wanted to cry. Just to think that we’ve created such a mess. And much of that stuff was put there just within the past couple of decades. To imagine that so few generations have made such a HUGE and negative impact on our planet. We truly need to repent.

    And Oprah needs to put the chicken down, along with the rest of us. LOL.

  3. I saw this…..and tried to find photos of this garbage patch and couldn’t. I wonder why??? should there be images of this on the internet?

  4. The Pacific Garbage Patch would be a huge tragedy, if it were TRUE! But it is a fallacy.
    Try looking for images of ‘the island’ in its entirety and you will only find close ups of floating garbage described as the Pacific Garbage Patch.
    If it was as large as they say it is, you should be able to go to Google Earth and see it on the satellite.
    No one has a specific location, but still being ‘the size of Texas’ you should be able to see it on Google Earth.

    I don’t say this to discredit the problems of pollution, because I DO care about our earth and the problems we are causing, but please don’t MAKE UP problems, because people are going to find out its not true and they are going to start to think there is nothing wrong with our environment and stop trying to help the situation.

    Here is my husband talking about the Patch on his blog: http://tysonxy.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/the-great-pacific-garbage-patchfact-or-fiction/

  5. Starless says:


    Try this link: http://algalita.org/documents/FAQs.pdf

    That would give you a bit more evidence to “refute”.

    Now, out of scientific courtesy I visited the posting by your husband. What stands out in his posting is the following statement:

    “There seems to be a lot of information supporting the existence of this floating heap of trash, however after a tiny bit of research the existence of this thing really falls into question.”

    Um, a tiny bit of research? Is that enough to assert that the existence of the plastic mess in the Pacific is a “fallacy”?

    If you think people are making this up, you could always take a cruise out there and see for yourself.

  6. Nestlé Waters North America agrees that more needs to be done to reduce plastic waste. That’s why we’ve reduced the plastic content of our bottles by 40% over the last 10 years. Our Eco-Shape bottles contain up to 30% less plastic than similar containers, and ultimately, we aim to produce a “next-generation” bottle made from recycled or renewable materials.

    We also believe that, if recycled, plastic is a valuable material that can be turned into a wide range of useful items, from toothbrushes to park benches. Unfortunately, recycling options in the U.S. are woefully inadequate, and as a result, millions of packages end up in the trash or in landfills. As a packaged goods company, Nestlé Waters believes we have a responsibility to make recycling easier and more comprehensive. In fact, we have committed to working with others to more than double current plastic beverage container recycling rates to 60% by 2018.

    Visit our Web site to learn more about these and other commitments: http://www.nestle-watersna.com/Menu/Corporate-Citizenship/Goals-Developing-Sustainale-Packaging-Solutions.htm.

    Lastly, I’d like to point that the “grab and go bottles” you describe do NOT contain Bisphenol-A. More information about plastic safety is available here: http://www.nestlewatersissues.com/index.php?p=16

    Thank you for the opportunity to contribute,

    Jane Lazgin
    Director, Corporate Communications
    Nestlé Waters North America

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