By 2050, there will be more pieces of plastic in the ocean than fish, according to CNN. There’s so much garbage floating around the world that ‘trash islands’ are becoming an environmental problem.
Take a look at some of the most polluted islands in the world.
It takes almost two weeks to get to Henderson Island by ship from New Zealand. It’s an isolated, six-mile long island in the South Pacific Ocean with a coral bed that’s raised above the ocean. There are species of plants and animals there that aren’t found anywhere else in the world.
The island is uninhabited, and yet humans have left their mark on it.
The island has an estimated 37 million pieces of trash on it, with about 27 new pieces added to the island everyday.
Henderson Island has the highest density of plastic garbage than anywhere else in the world.
And it’s not the only island dealing with a plastic problem.
A remote island between North America and Asia is home to the largest colony of Albatross in the world, with 1.5 million birds. But, the island that these birds call home is rapidly changing. NOAA has removed over 125 tons of trash from Midway island alone but this barely makes a dent in the amount of trash that has polluted the island.
On a daily basis, more and more garbage washes up on shore. The island is 1,300 miles from the nearest city, meaning that garbage has floated thousands of miles to get there. Food containers with Chinese writing on it, bottle caps with favorite American logos on them and strange items like mannequin heads and motorcycle helmets can all be found on the beach.
‘Garbage Patches’ all over the world
While you can actually set foot on the two islands mentioned above, there are several floating islands that are known as “garbage patches.”
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of floating debris that’s stuck in the circling tides of the Pacific Ocean known as The North Pacific Gyre.
Since the garbage is constantly moving, it’s hard to figure out its actually size, but experts estimate that the garbage patch is about nine miles deep and roughly twice the size of Texas.
There have been efforts to clean it up, but it’s not an easy fix. It takes days to travel to this remote location, and even if you can pull the garbage out of the ocean, where do you put it? Hauling it back to the mainland to dispose of it is a costly solution.
Plus, there are so many pieces of garbage that it would take years to collect it all.
Researchers found similar garbage patches in the Atlantic Ocean, with garbage that spans a swath of water that’s equivalent to the distance between Virginia and Cuba.
Garbage islands are also popping up in the Arctic Ocean.
A new solution
To curb the use of plastic, consumers have to take a new approach. Rather than buying single-use bottles, ask retailers to offer refill stations that allow you to bring in a refillable bottle and refill products like laundry detergent, soap and mouthwash.
You can stop contributing to the trash islands by refilling today. Sign the petition to encourage your local retailers to offer refill options.