Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Titanic Amount of Frightening Plastic Facts

I have a fascination with the Titanic, which I've actually written about before (See "Titanic & Plastic Almost Rhyme").

As I've mentioned before, I get about half way into the Leonardo di Caprio/Kate Winslett Movie, and realize how horribly awful the Titanic truly was.

The same thing sort of happened yesterday while I was watching the TEDx Great Garbage Patch live webcast event sponsored by Plastic Pollution Coalition.  I'm fascinated (as is evidence from this blog) by recycling, over-consumption, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and what we can do to help our planet and our environment.  Yet, when you watch speaker after speaker, experts in the environmental and health fields, talking of frightening statistics related to plastics, you start to realize how horrible our love affair with plastic and our disposable society is. 

The TEDx Great Garbage Patch event ran from 8:30 am--6:30 pm PST...which translates to 11:30--9:30 in my eastern standardized time zone.  I watched a good 80% of it.  After watching it, even though much of it I knew, I am changed.  The statistics were truly "Titanic" in size and proportion.  

The  biggies:
  • From Capt Charles Moore who first discovered the Pacific Garbage Patch:    In 1999, there were 6 pieces of plastic to every 1 piece of plankton in some parts of the ocean.  10 years later (2009), the numbers are now 36 pieces of plastic per 1 piece of plankton.  True exponential growth in a ten year time period.  What will 2019 hold??
  • From Fabien Cousteau, Jacques Cousteau's grandson:  95% of the world's life is in the ocean, 99% of the world's biodiversity is in the ocean.  The Garbage Patch is larger than perceived "2 Texases," but more like the size of Canada.
  • Less than 5% of plastic world wide gets recycled--and recycling isn't always what happens when you are recycling.  Much of that gets incinerated in other countries, releasing toxins into the air.
  • From Van Jones (author of "Green Collar Economy"):  The USA is 5% of the global population but responsible for 25% of the green house gases and 25% of the world's prisoners are here in the US.  There is a tie-in with poverty and pollution (in that most disposal sites are located where lower income families live, harming their lives more!!)  "Disposability is something our country believes in."
  • From Jeanne Rizzo, CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund:  93% of us are carrying the toxic plastic BPA (Bisphenol-A) in our body's system...less than 10% of breast cancer is strictly genetic, meaning environmental hazards of the Tupperware era are to blame.  1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer!
  • From Ken Cook, president and co-founder of Environmental Working Group:  Plastic Chemical pollution begins in the womb...and we don't know what does are too low to matter!
I could go on and on!  I think it's pretty safe to say that I am "grossed out" by plastic.  With the wealth of information from the multitude of speakers, I know this topic shall continue here in the GTG....

...To be continued!....
To see some of the shorts that were a part of the livestream yesterday, click the title above or go to
Pictures from and


  1. These facts and figures are brutal, How can we educate people effectively not to use plastics and not to dump garbage in sea and oceans.

  2. I hear ya...and I'm a-trying They are brutal, it was so eye-opening with the TEDx event. At times it feels like a "drop in the bucket" when trying to alert people. I think it "takes a village" so let's be the village!!