May 21, 2014

The Throwaway Phenomenon

Characterized by the 5 Gyres team as a dangerous cycle of careless consumption, disposal, and contamination, the “throwaway mentality” of today’s consumers is becoming increasingly prevalent and destructive.

Photo taken from 5gyres.org

Once discarded this plastic waste aggregates into immense oceanic whirlpools referred to as “gyres,” and five major ones having been identified worldwide. These slow currents allow hazardous plastic pollution to continue circulating, trapping oceanic contaminants and pollutants, and endangering both marine wildlife and humans. Marine animals are likely to consume this contaminated plastic debris, passing toxic waste on to human consumers of seafood.

In order to combat this large-scale environmental problem, the 5 Gyres Team is working to research the oceanic gyres, educate the public on recycling efforts, inspire legislation on plastic manufacturing and waste, and implement solutions to the plastic pollution problem plaguing the world’s oceans. With the goal of urging our society toward a more sustainable future, the dynamic staff of 5 Gyres collects and analyzes ocean samples, develops curriculum and solutions kits for use in schools, and generally fights the lack of concern surrounding this pressing issue of public health.

To learn more about the problem and possible solutions, click HERE.

To get involved with the 5 Gyres initiative, click HERE.

 


November 27, 2011

Don’t Buy This Jacket

Happy (American) Thanksgiving, everybody.  Hope yours was as full of football and fine food as mine was.  I had a Hungry-Man Salisbury Steak TV dinner and spotted 3 ships, so mine was fantastic. (And I rinsed and recycled the tray.  So there!)

I nearly spit out my Sanka when I saw this ad in the New York Times the next day, a.k.a. Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year in the U.S.A., from Patagonia, the fancy eco-conscious clothing company that makes outdoor gear:

Pretty funny, huh?  Or pretty sassy.

They explain why on their company website:

The test of our sincerity (or our hypocrisy) will be if everything we sell is useful, multifunctional where possible, long lasting, beautiful but not in thrall to fashion. We’re not yet entirely there. Not every product meets all these criteria. Our Common Threads Initiative will serve as a framework to advance us toward these goals.

Fair enough!

Back to my ship-spotting nook.


November 27, 2011

Christopher Jordan: “Midway”

Much of artist Christopher Jordan’s artwork deals with consumption, sustainability, and the environment. His series of photos from the Midway Atoll islands (in the Pacific Ocean, about 1000 miles north of Hawaii) took my breath away:

From “Midway: Message from the Gyre,” Christopher Jordan (2009-current)

Maybe you’ve heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the giant “landfill” in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Well, the Midway Atoll is located near its apex and is a longtime wildlife refuge where albatrosses go to mate and feed their young.

This photo essay is like an environmental autopsy of the baby albatrosses that die after their parents try to forage the Pacific Ocean for food, and come back with only detritus to feed their young.   These haunting images won the prestigious French Prix Pictet  in March 2011.

Jordan and several collaborators are producing a documentary film about this phenomenon, too, called simply MIDWAY.  The filmmakers write:

The islands are literally covered with plastic garbage, illustrating on several levels the interconnectedness and interdependence of the systems on our finite planet [...]

And so it is here, sitting halfway between the consumers of North America and the consumers of Asia, that we get to stop and consider some of the unintentional consequences of growth, and the responsibilities that we have for our planet.

 


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