What say we turn the flotilla garbage island into a real estate opportunity...? Maybe unrealistic, but fun as a thought exercise.
Other options include covering the thing with solar panels, perhaps coupled to compactors. I saw one of these solar-powered compactors at a park recently and seem to recall a sarcastic comment on Treehugger about them (initial, lazy search unfruitful). Separation is a big part of any effective recycling solution I've seen in action, so I'm inclined to follow-suit about the whole idea of smushing everything together. Mixture / cross-contamination of waste streams is a reflection of our linear mind set in the context of problem-solving. On that note, perhaps the solar panels could run pumps to suck in and clean the water of flotsam. I have no idea how that would work without having a negative impact on marine life, but it feels like a step in the right direction. If you've got a white paper, let me know.
Until then, this seems like an opportunity to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. While it would be optimal to separate & recycle/reuse all these materials, if we allow that goal to prevent us from cleaning it up while we can, each day that passes is another day when carcinogenic chemicals leach into our shared water supply: boo.
Homogeneity: not so good in the context of monocrops, maybe good in the context of waste streams...? It's important to have a homogenous mix when recycling -- that's why we do the whole numbering thing -- if we're going to melt plastics (or glass, or metals, etc.) down and re-form containers or other goods with them, those chemists need us to help them out - make sure it's the same material we're using to reconstitute that was used in the original fabrication. The Pacific garbage patch is such a disaster, though, I'd hate to see solutions, partial or otherwise, stagnate just because we couldn't settle on the best thing. It's triage time, baby; we need progress on the disasters - they are the big fires to put out. I doubt you could find a more vocal advocate of well-designed systems as long-term solutions, but I'm also an advocate of attacking on multiple fronts. There's not a whole lot of cohesion on the green front, anyway.
Note: Check out Cradle to Cradle and the idea of parking lots for 'wastes': recharacterized as "materials for which we have yet to devise sensical recycling methods"
I was struck by the percentage of ocean litter made up by cigarette butts. Here's a link to an article including some interesting statistics & useful graphs regarding ocean litter. Cigarette butts. Next time you see someone toss one thoughtlessly on the ground, consider suggesting that they pick it up. Two suggestions:
- Enforce littering laws
- Institute a feebate for cigarettes: $0.25 per butt? Would people throw quarters on the ground without thinking about it? What kind of cleanup efforts could be sparked if every butt you saw on the ground was worth a quarter? A dollar?
Captain Moore from Algalita Foundation's 7 minute TED talk - Great summary about the problem. Visit GyreSticker.com today!