We’re surrounded by plastic–eating from it, drinking from it, and wearing it. But unlike other materials, it doesn’t biodegrade. In fact, every piece of plastic that was ever created, still exists in some capacity. Filmmaker Angela Sun shows us where all that plastic goes when she journeys to the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Does the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, known to be two times the size of Texas, actually exist? Sun journeyed from Honolulu to Midway Atoll to find out. Getting there is no easy feat–only one government plane journeys there every few weeks to deliver supplies. The island, which today houses a research facility, is most famous for its important role in World War II.
Midway should be an untouched paradise, but as a result of waste coming from North America and Asia, upwards of 10,000 pounds of plastic washes up on its shores annually. The island is filled with towers of plastic waste and the dead birds that perished after ingesting it.
“EVERY single piece of plastic that has ever been created since the 19th century is still SOMEWHERE on our planet. So if it never goes away, where does it go?”
But the plastic eyesore is only a small piece of the puzzle because Midway is also home to 70 percent of the world’s Laysan Albatross breeding population–regal seabirds that live long lives and choose one mate. But many of them are dying at the hands of debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirl of trash that seems invisible because it’s found just below the surface.
The world’s sea creatures are also getting swept up in the nearly 640,000 tons of discarded plastic fishing nets that sink to the ocean’s floor and destroy coral reefs in their path. While macro pieces of plastic may seem the most daunting, it’s the micro pieces that present the largest problem because they get ingested by fish and make their way up the food chain into our bodies.
In the end, we ingest plastic and the toxins that make it up. BPA, DDT, PCBs, known human carcinogens that flow through our bloodstream whether we ingest them in fish or they leach into us via sales receipts, water bottles, or single use plastic bags.
This movie explores the lobbying machine behind the plastic industry and their role in ensuring that we’re not truly aware of plastic’s harm to our health and the health of the planet.
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Image: Plastic Paradise