This special edition of our show dives into an ocean of plastic, masses of waste accumulating on and around some remote islands in the Pacific
Synthetic plastic, the kind made by people, has been around since 1907, and scientists estimate that almost every piece of it made since then still exists. Why? It doesn't break down quickly in the environment.And researchers say that tons of plastic trash around the world find a way to leak into the ocean every year. It might be picked up on the coast and swept out to sea. It might find its way from streets to storm drains, carried by rivers to the ocean. And you're about to see its impact.
Before we get into the problem, though, what can be done about this? It's unlikely and probably unaffordable to take plastics out of the environment altogether. But on a personal scale, people can reduce the amount of plastics they use. Think water filter bottles or jugs instead of throwaway water bottles.Think reusable fabric shopping bags instead of plastic ones. Think reusable steel drink bottles instead of single use plastic cups.
And when it comes to the plastic you do use and need to throw away, think recycling every time. This will help keep the materials from slipping into the environment.
One image that's hard to forget about how plastic can impact the environment is what you can see in the stomach of a dead bird on a Pacific island.
Every time you throw away a piece of plastic, it can be felt here, in paradise.This is Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean, one of the most remote places on the planet but one of the hardest hit by pollution.
But it's too late for parts of it.
Your coffee cup, water bottle, toothbrush, they may all float miles to end up on the shores, inside these birds, the blubber of these seals, and the sand, and invisibly in the waves these dolphins call home.
And eventually, these plastics may well end up inside you.