Where Plastic Bottle Caps End Up

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Plastic wasn't meant to be eaten

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.

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10 responses »

  1. This is really sad; we need to re-evaluate a lot things we do, in our society, if we don’t want to see things like this anymore. Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:))

    • I’ve been thinking about the Pacific Gyre recently, wondering it it had gotten bigger, how it was affecting sea life. Then a friend of mine sent me the trailer for this film. Funny how that works out.

  2. Very educational and horrifying. I stopped buying plastic water bottles a long time ago for health reasons. This is yet another reason why we need to create change in our consumerism as a society.

  3. I guess I have never understood why people have to buy bottles of water, when we were growing up we drank water from the tap, I still do. I also avoid using plastic shopping bags as much as possible, if I have saved the life of just 1 baby albatross then it has been worthwhile.

    It is shocking what humans have done to the planet we profess to love so much!!

    Great post, even better Blog!!

  4. There is a convenience for buying bottled water however, as responsible citizens, there are plenty of good alternatives. Also, as a point in economics, we complain about four dollar a gallon gas yet we pay over five dollars a gallon for bottled water. Over the course of a year the savings by eliminating purchasing bottled water could easily buy a “Season Pass” at Crystal……

  5. Kim, Why buy water when it comes out of the tap for free??? The water in the tap is more controled and safer by far than bottled water. By the way, there is no bottled water in your mother’s home.

  6. The picture of the Albatross would make the most effective ad for Brita and other filtering devices. It’s unbelievable where our waste ends up throughout the world.

  7. Hi, Kim, (We met recently at the Diva Week West gathering at Big Sky.)

    One of the most wonderful and inspiring places I have ever visited was the Royal Albatross rookery in Dunedin, New Zealand (near the southern tip of the South Island). It is the only place in the world, on a mainland, where one can see Royal Albatross gather and nest. The presentation there was funny, endearing and affirming. Thus, this was especially disturbing and shocking to me.

    We personally avoid using bottled water, preferring to carry our own in reusable containers (we have even been know to drink out of the hose!), and I have posted this on Fb in the hopes of convincing others that merely recycling is not a cure-all! Thank you for making this available!

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