Opinion: The plastic junkyard in the middle of the Pacific Ocean sounds like a perfect vacation spot for lawmakers
A new study has found that there’s even more plastic accumulating in the Pacific Ocean than anyone thought — a whole lot more — and growing. But don’t expect this disclosure to prompt any serious large-scale plastic-reduction policies in the United States.
No matter how many studies show single-use plastic bottles, bags, lighters and whatnot clogging up the ocean in alarming numbers, state legislatures can’t even pass a simple ban on plastic grocery bags. California is the sole exception. Good for us.
Perhaps the nation’s lawmakers might change their tune after taking a little sea voyage. No, not a tour of the bay while wearing a pair of cement shoes, but a pleasure cruise from California to Hawaii with stops to take in the sights along the way: namely, the 79,000 tons of discarded plastic that makes up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s an area roughly twice — twice! — the size of Texas that is home to too much old fishing line, unidentifiable chunks of colorful plastic, broken-up Styrofoam and microplastic to get your mind around.
A junket, if you will, into the heart of a gigantic plastic junkyard.
If I were a wealthy environmentalist, I might put together a junket for state legislators. Organizations hoping to get favorable treatment for certain industries or support for particular policies frequently underwrite junkets to exotic locales. Why not one to educate legislators about where all those grocery bags, polystyrene takeout containers, straws and utensils they aren’t banning end up?
It doesn’t have to be complete bummer of a trip with scientists droning on about the danger of discarded plastic. There could also be amazing food and world-class entertainment, along with informative dissections of sea birds that died with their stomachs full of plastic, a showing of an infamous (and excruciating) video of marine biologists removing a plastic straw from the nose of a sea turtle, and exciting trawling games in which teams compete to pull up the strangest plastic things in their nets.
If that doesn’t make legislators want to rush home and draw up comprehensive single-use plastic reduction plans for their city and state, then I don’t know what will.
Follow me @marielgarzaLAT
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