The Widening Gyre Of Plastic: Made To Last Forever, Designed To Be Thrown Away

Jun 1, 2011 2:30 PM ET
Campaign: Ocean Aid

Joe Laur on Ocean Aid

Plastic is wonderful material. It has so many uses, infinitely malleable to fit almost any need. And soooo durable. Plastics last hundreds, even thousands of years. That is their strength. Our weakness is that we design too much plastic to be simply “thrown away” -wherever “away” is.

Plastics and oceans don’t go together. Water and oil don’t mix. But because of the way we design, use and dispose of plastic, a lot of it is ending up in our oceans, riding the seas for decades in ever widening gyres.   What’s a gyre?   An ocean gyre is a large system of rotating currents, related to large wind movements as the planet spins on its axis. It’s like drawing your hand through your bath water and watching the little swirls spin off each side, except these oceanic swirls are huge and the “hand” is the impact of the earth’s rotation on wind and water. There are 5 major gyres in the north and south Atlantic and Pacific, and in the Indian Ocean.   Like an eddy on a river, stuff accumulates in these gyres and gets “stuck“in the currents there. If it’s durable material, like plastics, it can stay in the gyre indefinitely, and that’s a problem.   Continue reading about the gyre of plastic.....


About Ocean Aid

Ocean Aid is a campaign created to raise awareness about the pollution collecting in our oceans and inspire community action to keep our oceans clean. Founded by eco-expert, Anthony Zolezzi, Ocean Aid uses new technology, social media and group collaboration to educate about the importance of oceans as our life support system.

About Greenopolis

Greenopolis LLC, is a subsidiary of Waste Management. is the first interactive community that connects the online conversation about recycling and resource management with opportunities to track the products that consumers use and recycle through recycling kiosks located in public venues and other on the go locations. Through Greenopolis, environmentally responsible individuals can earn rewards for recycling and resource-conscious companies can better understand the lifecycle of their products. “Rethink. Recycle. Reward. Closing the Loop Together.” For more information:


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