Can we get plastic out of the ocean already? From drones to filters to artificial islands. Innovators are working to cut the threat thousands of tons of trash pose to marine ecosystems. Basically we need to get plastic out of the oceans!

Anja Krieger
Freelance journalist


February 1, 2016 — A few palm trees stand strong in the salty breeze. Located on the southern tip of the Pacific island chain of Hawaii, Kamilo Beach. It’s is an isolated stretch of black volcanic shoreline in the middle of nowhere. Just a few hundred yards from shore. Yes humpback whales rise up from the depths. All colorful fish fill the reefs and rare sea turtles swim in to nest on the beach. As I’ve written before:

New York Response

In response to the cuts of $17 million the New York State Parks department, the Alliance For New York State Parks called for the a “Pennies for Parks” program.  This program is a one cent fee charged to consumers for disposable grocery store plastic bags.

A poll conducted in December, 2010 showed 73 percent of New Yorkers support the penny surcharge. Especially  if the generated funds were dedicated to keeping state parks open and well maintained.

Pennies for Parks

In announcing the “Pennies for Parks” campaign, Kulleseid explained that the one cent fee is expected to generate $60 million a year, while reducing the number of bags that end up in landfills.  He also stressed that the fee would be avoidable if shoppers turned to reusable bags.

The December, 2010 survey of 1,000 registered New York State voters was conducted by Buffalo pollster Barry Zeplowitz and Associates.

As part of the survey, voters were asked their feelings regarding a charge on plastic bags used by grocery stores.  Because inevitably and want to stop plastic. Again because plastic must out of the oceans and waterways.

So specifically, the question read, “If the amount charged was one penny per bag, and you knew it would raise $60 million annually to keep state parks open and well maintained for your use, would you support such a charge?” The response was 73 percent favorable (35 percent strongly) and 24 percent unfavorable (11 percent strongly). Because New Yorkers want plastic out of the oceans!

We need to get plastic out of the oceans

But even in this remote place, garbage washes ashore each day. “We find a lot of toothbrushes and combs, plastic bottles and caps, over and over,” says Megan Lamson, a marine biologist working for a local non-governmental organization, the Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund.

Old Hawaiian sayings have described the bay as a place where people went looking for loved ones if they got lost at sea.

In conclusion, it’s an all too familiar sight around the world. Since the early 1970s, researchers have collected plastic from beaches and oceans around the globe. At the 9-mile (14-kilometer) stretch of coastline around South Point alone.  In addition, they’ve collected about 15 to 20 tons (14 to 18 metric tons) of trash wash up each year.

“Here on Hawaiian beaches, we have debris from all around the North Pacific,” Nikolai Maximenko, an oceanographer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, explains. Some pieces come from Asia, others from the West Coast of North America, and, Maximenko adds, “of course we have local products, too.”

Finally and for the entire story on how to get plastic out of the oceans at Ensia.