Most of our modern daily lives and its conveniences rest on the ubiquitous use of plastic. Unfortunately, this product that seemingly made our lives easier has become a major environmental issue, and a threat to the health and well being of the oceans and countless marine creatures.
Every piece of plastic ever made is still on the planet. A plastic sandwich bag takes 50 years to break down. A polystyrene cup has a projected lifetime of 500 years before degrading into small pieces. Plastic toys, plates, and bottle caps can last for centuries.
Project Kaisei (Japanese for “Ocean Planet”) was started by Mary Crowley, founder and director of Ocean Voyages Institute, in an effort to not just talk about the trash in the ocean, but to actually clean it up. Project Kaisei’s focus is on cleaning up the North Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Gyre, the poster child for man-made pollution, is the world’s largest ecosystem and the world’s largest trash dump. Plastics, sludge, and non-biodegradable debris continue to accumulate at this point so that now researchers estimate the pollution to cover thousands of square miles of open ocean.