Imagine, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the size of India, Europe, and Mexico combined. Luta was not even large enough to be on geographical maps when I was a child and our neighboring island of Guam was just a dot on the globe.
To think that about 90% of the trash floating in our oceans is made of plastic and that there are about 46,000 pieces of plastic for every square mile of ocean, is just heart wrenching.
The fish that come from the same oceans our ancestors used to navigate under the stars, are now also feeding on microplastics left behind from human pollution and waste. The fish are not able to digest plastics and end up sick or starving.
The turtles which our ancestors have respected are now being caught in thousands of plastic 6-pack rings from thousands of parties held all over the world, without a trace in thought about the wasteful packaging that comes with mass production to put the rather strenuous life of the human-being, quite at ease.
In the last 10 years, the world has produced more plastic than the entire last century and about 50% of the plastic we use, we use just once and toss it away. From what I’ve read, the average American throws away about 185 lbs of plastic each year and it takes between 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade. We throw away way more than our own lifetime can recycle properly.
Plastic and garbage cover about 40% of the world’s ocean and 80% of pollution entering the ocean come from land. The world was not prepared to protect our planet, not when plastic pieces in the ocean outnumber precious sea life 6 to 1. Not when hermit crabs are now using plastic cups and Lego pieces as shells because there are thousands of more plastics on the beaches than seashells.
When I think of my home island of Luta, it is so small and precious. It remains fairly untouched by western civilization and as a CHamoru with love for my island, I hope that the island remains that way.
If even the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is thousands of times bigger than my little island called Luta, what will that mean for the island’s future in the Pacific Ocean?