BP Oil Geyser Capped; What About the Plastic Leak?

plastic island in the ocean
Plastic Garbage Patch

Hearing that BP finally has gained some control of the geyser that has been pouring millions of gallons of oil and other toxic chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico for almost 3 full months is very good news.  Whether this temporary cap will hold up under the pressure and not cause more leaking in the deep well or the ocean sub-floor is yet to be known.  Still, this is progress in a disaster that has very little success for far too long.

Watching the devastation that the oil leak has caused to wildlife, aquatic life, and beaches as well as the fishermen, tourism and people who’s livelihood is dependent on the gulf has been heart-wrenching.  Cleaning up the effects of the oil leak will without a doubt, take decades – if it’s ever even possible to fully clean it up – which I doubt.

The BP oil leak has been labelled the worst environmental disaster in US history.  But the fact is, there is an ongoing environmental disaster that potentially has as great an impact on the world’s oceans, and it appears that no one has done much to gain control over it yet.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a floating island of plastic debris that has been collecting in the Pacific Ocean.  It is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and stretches from the coast of California to Japan.  It contains bits and pieces of plastic trash that has either been dumped or floated into the ocean from streams and rivers.  The toxins poison sea life, birds, and mammals. Fish and birds get caught in the tangled plastic net and die.

Plastic (made from oil) does not break down naturally.  It’s durability means that it is not biodegradable and will likely last for hundreds of years.  Plastic contains chemicals such as artificial estrogen that leach into water, increasing risk of cancers and other diseases.

We can reduce our usage of plastics by using cloth bags, growing our own produce, or purchasing produce from local farmers markets, which reduces pollution and packaging.  Recycling plastics, cardboard, and metals and shopping at consignment shops also helps reduce waste.  Using organic lawn and garden products reduces the runoff of toxic chemicals into our waterways.

The world is one, large environmental system and we are all connected through that system.  The thought that a floating island twice the size of Texas exists because of our waste is very disturbing.  Imagine that island covered in a slimy layer of black oil, trapping sea birds, turtles, fish, and whales in a poisonous net, strangling the life out of them.

Let’s hope the cap on the oil geyser is a success.  Let’s also hope that we can figure out a way to put a cap on the toxic leak of plastic and chemical runoff flowing into our oceans too.

7 thoughts on “BP Oil Geyser Capped; What About the Plastic Leak?”

  1. Its a shame that something that is so helpful can be so bad for the environment too. I am doing a little to help, I have several cloth bags I take to the grocery with me. But, I seldom take them into places like Family Dollar, Dollar General, Lowe’s, etc. even though they are in the car. Will have to add another “gear” to my thinking and do better. We rely so much on plastics that I wonder what we will do when we finally run out of oil.

  2. Deep Middle also posted about birds and plastic. Getting trapped in nets is only a part of the problem. Birds EAT the plastic, then die, leaving a bird shaped heap of our plastic garbage.

  3. It is incredible how much plastic has become a part of our daily lives – from medical devices to cars and take out food containers. It’s hard to imagine life without plastic, but we can all do our part to recycle and make sure that it doesn’t end up in waterways and garbage dumps. We have to start somewhere, right?

  4. I was going to say I wrote about this last month, but I see I was beat to the punch here. It is terrifying what we are doing, and no one thinks about it–no one knows–and even when they know they interpret that passing of knowledge as zealous preaching by eco nuts, and there’s no way one person can physically need to do what needs to be done or even make a dent. It’s pathetic. I am a misanthrope, so we are all pathetic. At our house we bring cloth bags to the grocery store, including little mesh ones for the veggie aisle that the check out clerks marvel at.

  5. Yes, southeastern Minnesota is not known for tourism but there are plenty of beautiful places to visit including caves, trout streams, and little villages that spring to life in the summertime. I hope you and your wife make it for a visit sometime soon.

  6. I try to use cloth bags as much as possible too. Shortly after I wrote this post, I started trying to reduce the amount of plastic that I use and it is truly incredible how dependent we are on plastic – it’s in so many things that we use every day. It is so sad what we humans have done and continue to do to this planet. At least if we do what we can to stop the destruction, it helps a little – even if just to make those around a little more aware. Getting the word out in posts might make someone else start to think about it too. Thanks for your comment.

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