On the Midway Atoll, halfway between America and Asia, in one of the most remote places on Earth, the Pacific Garbage Patch washes ashore. Broken bits of plastic, rubber slippers and bottle caps are strewn across the landscape. But most startling is where else they are found. In the bodies of dead albatrosses.
The Pacific Garbage Patch is nature’s largest garbage dump–millions of tons of floating garbage swirl in the Pacific Ocean, caught in the currents, plaguing sea life and birds and acting as an ugly reminder of our disposable lifestyle.
Jon Jarvis, Superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, recently banned the sale of plastic water bottles in the Park. At Crystal Mountain, we have eliminated bottled soda and water in many of our restaurants.
Just think about the waste. A single bottle of water must first be manufactured, then shipped and refrigerated. Each one of these steps takes energy and materials. A thirsty consumer buys this bottle of water for $2, drinks it in a few minutes and throws it away. Or recycles it. That empty bottle must be collected, hauled and shipped somewhere else–either to a garbage dump or to a recycling center. Even if this bottle ends up as Patagonia fleece, it’s still a gargantuan waste of time, money, energy and materials.
Or it could end up inside a baby albatross.
That’s what the Midway Project team found a few days ago while filming their feature-length documentary “Midway”. Inside a dead baby albatross were several pieces of plastic. In just the first few days of its life, the bird ate the human equivalent of three credit cards.
According to their website:
The MIDWAY media project is a powerful visual journey into the heart of an astonishingly symbolic environmental tragedy. On one of the remotest islands on our planet, tens of thousands of baby albatrosses lie dead on the ground, their bodies filled with plastic from the Pacific Garbage Patch. Returning to the island over several years, our team is witnessing the cycles of life and death of these birds as a multi-layered metaphor for our times. With photographer Chris Jordan as our guide, we walk through the fire of horror and grief, facing the immensity of this tragedy—and our own complicity—head on. And in this process, we find an unexpected route to a transformational experience of beauty, acceptance, and understanding.