After reading nearly a hundred articles about garbage patches and islands I was missing the positive view. The healthy question for this disaster is; how can we solve it?

The answer is simple and does not require your effort but healthy thinking. So far, I found three answers:

  1. The first solution is biodegradable plastic. Imagine you have something with the properties of plastic but does not have the long lasting property. By the time some accidental piece is lost in nature reaches a gyre, it is completely decomposed in solely organic materials.
  2. Solutions that remove plastic. All efforts that consider manual or semi-manual collecting trash are good because of their positive spirit. Everything counts! However, the undo the high volume of plastic trash every year, something not to labor and capital intensive is needed. One solution I received is a fungus that decomposes plastic like fungus can do in nature. For more information read this article.
  3. You. The problem is the behavior of us, the people. Which is also the answer, the people are the solution. That results in the key question; what can you do?
  1. Spread the word that plastic is not good and discuss by using facts. The more people are aware the more chance on change.
  2. Start talking about bio-degradable plastic whenever you see the opportunity. Especially on internet and areas where people buy. Feel free to ask in stores if the plastic is bio-degradable or if they have a biodegradable alternative.

But there is more you can do. The Garbage Patch is only an example out of many issues on this planet. Therefore I would like to go beyond the issue of garbage patches. Because if you care about this planet and want to to pass on the best for future generations, the change in behavior is more sophisticated. The following more general actions will benefit every one, including you:

  • Use your intelligence; you are smart enough to understand what is sustainable
  • Refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Refuse plastic as much as you can. Less is more. Less stuff is more happiness, truly!
  • Reduce your need for plastic items by choosing for sustainable alternatives
  • Reuse plastic once you have plastic items
  • Recycle plastic. All major countries are recycling plastic. Actually your community will receive money for recycling plastic instead of paying for waste. It is not uncommon that the traditional method is more beneficial for public officials; please be aware!

It is always great news if scientist are finding new solutions. When it are two people and they are young it makes the future only brighter. Please take a little of your time to enjoy below video.

Like many TED talks it shows in an entertaining way how people got to some point.

Some interesting parts of the video:

  • Plastic destructs eco systems
  • The ocean has become a plastic soup. There is no place in the ocean where you cannot find waste
  • Plastics have difficult constructions which makes them difficult to biograde
  • Phthalates are part of plastic and easily are de-attached from plastic
  • Therefore phthalates, which are in many plastic items, get easily into eco systems including human bodies
Other interesting developments are in the area of recycling. Scientist and countries discover how they can make profit out of waste. It would be great if all waste will be hunted in the future for its recycle value. In that case plastic would be recycled more. And at the same time less to litter into the open space and eventuelly the Ocean gyres.


Man invents machine to convert plastic into oil

From United Nations University (sad to see that videos like this hardly gets hits)

Artist solution:

This article (Portuguese) is about the Germany system of recycling trash. The article informs:

  • About the colours of the trash cans you see on the streets;
  • By 2015 recycling will be mandatory; the law has been approved by the Parliament;
  • In Europe, recycling business is a Gold Mine business;
  • The big companies such as Alba ( german); Aurubis ( German- increase of 35% on profit with is around €13,3billions), Boliden AB ( Sweden- €4.5billion as business profit ) and Umicore
  • German financial times posted: “the trash recyclers are the modern alchemist”

This article (Portuguese) informes:

  • Rio de Janeiro recycling companies are far from perfect and has not yet picked up the business – can make million/ billions;
  • Eurstat ( Statistics and Data Institute of the European Union) informs that the European countries recycled ( aluminium, glass, metals, paper, plastic, wood) more than 60% since 2009;
  • Most efficient countries: Belgica is the top country with 79,07% of consumed trash recycled; Netherlands comes next with 74,86%; Germany = 73,43%; Tcheck Republic = 68,83% ; Italy =63,97%
  • Less efficient countries: Greek = 43,82%; Romenia =40,47%
  • Americas: USA shows a increase of 46,3% and Canada increased 47%
  • Portugal eradicated the big trashes in a period of 10 years with an invest of €1.6billion and has been applying the rules from the EU.
  • Germany was the pioneer country to implement a model of recycling; in 1972 the Parliament passed a law related to recycling

There are also other areas that make great progress. To get inspired I will give a few examples:

Your involvement is highly appreciated. Therefore, please post your ideas below. What do you think; what would be good solutions for the issue of garbage patches?

59 thoughts on “Solutions

  1. the ted talk on the bacteria breaking the plastic is genius. First you could break down the plastic then put the plastic in the machine that the man made and turn the plastic into oil.

    • Yes i am with you to but ,i am sitting here and thinking if there are solutions already Why have they not apply them ?? Can some tell me ?

      • Great question! We have 200 years of investment in a fossil fuel society from governments and companies (lets say all of us). This is hard to change, even if we all want to. Unfortunately the fossil fuel industry (incl plastics) uses very low ethical standards to keep profits high and their power/license to operate. The current rate of energy technology change puts us today to a similar situation as the Apple 2 computer. In the same speed energy technology will go disrupt to the level of a Iphone 6 device (compared to Apple 2). For plastics there is still a lot to do, but I think we cannot afford to keep this part behind.

  2. It’s scary to think things of this magnitude exist yet I am just learning of them at 30 years of age! Increasing media coverage would be a helpful start, awareness is key I think, to obtain a large clean up effort, not once but continuously. In a perfect world I would hope the majority of debris is biodegradable and poses little threat to Marine life, plastics being the concern. In the little knowledge I have of this problem at this time, it’s hard for me to come up with a solid idea I would want to put my name on. I’m thinking awareness, a environmental group dedicated to lobbying for funds to get a good think tank going on a real action plan. A multi-national effort will be needed realistically.

  3. I am interested to know whether more biological organisms have been discovered to break down other plastics besides polyurethane, like pvc or even the plasticizes, like phthalates . Can governments import P microspora and start using it in their countries existing landfills yet?

  4. Together with my classmates we’re doing a project about the problems faced by Eastern Pacific green turtles and the main problem is pollution because of human ignorance. One example is the big Pacific garbage patch.

    We have many solutins to avoid such pollution between them we include educating youngsters towards their carbon footprint and we would like to know your options that could help us with this solution.

    • That is really great to read! Awareness is a great thing in the current state of things. The next step is change of the current state. Try something that is realistic; for example ban (free) plastic bags with a local law. I have seen it with my own eyes for Netherlands this year (17M people). It works with not hassle or complains. One law and lowered tons of plastic in one day.

  5. I know you mention here that manual labor is ineffective as a long term solution, but are you aware of any labor-based projects to at least help reduce yearly accumulation? I’d love to volunteer with something like that, so I’m curious if there are any volunteer groups out there.

    • The first version was written in January 2012 and a lot has been updated over the years. The last update was June 20, 2014.

    • We all benefit from plastics. I think people’s consumption is sick. If we all live a but more moderate we can make a huge difference. In the mean time technology is progressing and all plastics will be replaced by bio-degradable plastics.

  6. Some of the more wealthy environmentalists should put up to start an environmental reality show. They could make boats of people sort through the garbage and get points based on how much of each kind of recyclable. That helps recycle things and could help fund itself through adds and such, and hopefully start a trend of environmentally friendly reality shows.
    Make people’s apathy, love of reality tv shows, and urge to help by phoning it in work for the environment!

  7. This Is so disgusting its not funny man humans are monsters to the environment
    And this is not the only issue in the world caused by humans man we are so mean to the world

  8. What would be the most beneficial and possible solution, I’m doing a class project and would like to know what is really possibly and what to help with in the future.

  9. Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the late 19 and plans a research trip there in July, estimates that altogether the globe’s garbage patches contain 200 million tons of floating debris.

  10. My 6th grade class is trying to make a difference in the garbage patch too. Can you tell me some things about a plastic eating fungus?

    • my class is trying to make a diffrence too i really hope that we do!!!!!! The teacher is letting us send letters to important people like the president and the mayor or anyone else important!!!!!! #excited

  11. i love this website it makes me think more about what my teacher is trying to tell us

  12. What would you say to the people who outright, deny/ignore climate change and its effects?
    And how do you feel about some of those people being in charge of the change we need?

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