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Friday, June 2, 2017

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Where is 'away'? Every piece of plastic, every piece of glass, every aluminum can you don't recycle gets thrown 'away'. But where is it?

A disturbing article in Popular Science shows us very graphically just where away is, and what kind of impact our disposable lifestyle has on the world, the world you and I have to live in.

Please scroll down for some eye-opening excerpts.

Thanks for reading,

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A remote island in the South Pacific is covered in 18 tons of our trash

Henderson Island has long been regarded as one of the most remote and pristine islands in the world, but trash washing up on shore is turning it into a landfill.

Hidden in the South Pacific, 3000 miles from anywhere, this UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Pitcairns is "one of the most pristine islands left in the world, never inhabited by humans, rarely visited even for research purposes," says Jennifer Lavers.

After she and her colleagues disembarked on Henderson Island in May 2015 to do some ecology research, they didn't see another ship until they got picked up at the end of August. But even though humans rarely touch the island, our fingerprints are all over it: during their stay, Lavers and her fellow researchers found that this remote island is home not only to endangered petrels and nesting sea turtles, but approximately 37,661,395 pieces of manmade trash.

By their calculations, Henderson is littered with at least 17.6 tons of (mostly plastic) trash-and every square meter of the beach gets around 27 new pieces of junk added to its collection every day.

David Barnes, a marine ecologist who studies plastic pollution at the British Antarctic Survey, calls this number 'pretty scary.' "In less than a century, plastic has made a world of difference in so many ways. We may spend centuries undoing some of the very serious problems, even if we start now," he says.

"Remote studies like this help us to understand rates of accumulation, composition, and fate of plastic pollution," says Barnes. Although the amount of trash that gets deposited varies from coastline to coastline, Lavers and Bond hope that doing more beach surveys will help to plug in some of the missing pieces of the plastics puzzle. Plus, these studies are cheaper than trawling through the garbage patches in the ocean.

"The human footprint is everywhere," says Lavers, "and it runs deeper than most of us imagine."

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