Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, an island has been forming, but don’t start packing your bags for a tropical adventure yet; this island isn’t one you would like to visit. Some call it Garbage Island, but it’s most widely known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch; an island larger than the state of Texas made entirely out of floating garbage. While improper waste management definitely has something to do with the formation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it is clear that our current standard procedures for disposing of waste are lacking.
When we clean our homes, and vacuum our carpets, we hardly ever think about where the dust and bits of plastics we clean up go. Sometimes we try to be a little greener and make sure the plastic bottles and cups go to the recycling bin, maybe even ask the carpet cleaners if they use environmentally safe chemicals and methods, but by the time the garbage leaves our property we no longer care what happens to it and where it goes. Most cleaning services do their responsibility for the environment and make sure those that can be recycled goes on to be recycled, unfortunately that might not be enough and the problem lies elsewhere.
The problem lies in how we handle plastics; a study done some time ago stated that only 10% of the plastics used and produced ever makes it to the ocean as waste, a number that would seem to be acceptable to many. The thing is though; the garbage patch is made of 80% plastic, which doesn’t make sense at first until you recall that plastics take about Five hundred years to degrade. That 10% doesn’t seem that much at first, but since we don’t wait five hundred years before disposing of our water bottles, it builds up pretty fast, considering that we just invented plastic the previous century.
What Harm Does Garbage Island Pose To Us?
Have you ever thought where the plastic bottles or cups lying on the carpet floor go after your mom sentence you to clean up for an unauthorized party you had while they were gone? Well, they actually travel farther then you probably ever will, to islands where your parents can only dream of going to for a vacation because of the large bill the carpet cleaners left.
You might think: “Alright so there’s a bunch of plastic bottles floating around the ocean, so what? At most, it is an eye sore that washes up on shores in the Pacific.” And you’re partly right; it is an eyesore that washes up on shores, the thing is though, it isn’t just a few bottles on the sand; one island in Hawaii experience more than six feet of garbage washing into its shores from that garbage patch. And currently, islands in the Philippines and Korea are experiencing foreign garbage slowly washing up on their shores, in time the garbage patch will slowly grow, and more and more islands will experience the same thing.
Another problem is when plastics do degrade. Plastics does not biodegrade, at least current plastics and the majority of plastics found in the Great Pacific Garbage patch; but they do photo degrade. When plastics degrade the don’t return into the properties they are made of, they just turn into smaller and smaller versions of itself, which doesn’t seem so bad until you discover what they do to the environment.
Today in our oceans, if you look closely you will see little specs floating on the water, gently dancing in the current. These are called Mermaid Tears, and while it would be wonderful in a way if I told you that these are the tears of mermaids shed due to the destruction of their home, they are not. Mermaid tears are the degraded form of plastic, and though you might think this is a good thing at first, the terrible truth of mermaid tears makes them unworthy of their name.
Mermaid tears attracts chemicals and oils spilled by ships and chemical plants, couple that with the fact that they also attract Plankton, the stuffed fish eats, makes them a hazard not only to one species but all of the animals in the food chain, which if I am mistaken, is the whole animal kingdom (including humans).
So think about the harm those little pieces of confetti and plastic you vacuum from your carpets could do to the environment. It’s actually quite amazing how something as simple as carpet cleaning could actually affect the environment in the long term.
How To Stop This
It is unfortunate but cleaning up the garbage in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not possible, and could be harmful to the environment with current conventional means. What we can do for now is to stop the plastic from the source.
Apart from a reform with our waste management and recycling methods, cleaning our homes would need to be changed as well. Standards of cleaning and the reduction of waste and reuse of all reusable material at home would be essential. Only with this and the elimination of the complacency of allowing even a fraction of a percent of plastics entering the ocean, can we slowly eliminate the danger that garbage island poses to the world?
Choosing A Responsible Cleaning Service
While Carpet cleaning would seem like the last thing you would need to worry about when it comes to environmental causes, each and every individual will need to be evaluated in their part of cleaning up the world.
Knowing that your carpet cleaner does all they can to reduce waste and sorting out recyclables and such should be important when choosing which service to patronize. It is your responsibility to a client or employer to know that those working for you are following the same environmental rules and guidelines as you to ensure a better tomorrow. Remember, if you are fortunate enough to be able to afford cleaning services, you are also leaving them to become examples for your children in the future. Teaching your kids to hire responsibly and only allowing adults that could show and teach them proper actions, are a few ways to preserve the environment of tomorrow.