Dear Captain Charles Moore:

{ Monday, February 18, 2008 }

As I sit writing this letter to you, I'm drinking club soda out of a plastic bottle and thinking that if it weren't for reading about your work, I might never confront the question: is it worth it?

Some of my friends who read this may never have heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It sounds unbelievable the first time you hear about it: a continent twice the size of Texas, composed of floating plastics -- 3.5 million tons of plastic chunks, threads, artifacts, and eensy weensy particles caught in a rotating plastic gumbo.

That's plastic, which doesn't biodegrade but instead breaks down into ingestible particles. And y'know, no matter how much I love bottled fizzy drinks, there's no way around this: Plastic is poison.

For my part, I can refuse to throw plastic into the closest available trashcan. When I do use it, I can pack it home and recycle it. I don't always do that now, but I will. I can buy fewer things packaged in plastic. And I can tell my friends I'm doing this because of the Pacific Garbage Patch.

I really don't want to be part of your work going to waste. I don't want to be part of the poison.

Thank you for starting the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. And who were you when you did this? A woodworker and chemist who grew up sailing. So many things you could have done with your opportunities! (You were on a yacht race, yes? when you first saw the Garbage Patch.) But what did you do? You volunteered, volunteered, volunteered. You contributed resources where you saw a need. You threw yourself into study of the problems. You made this your work.

Focus, focus, focus. Act, act, act.

Thank you, Mr. Moore. The people who work in ocean conservancy are a phenomenon yourselves. You do all this work although you know there's no chance of seeing the problems go away in your lifetime. A best hope is to see changing behaviors that may one day result in cleaner resources for a future generation.

Thank you for believing in a long future. Thank you for your optimism.

I wish for you that the Algalita Board of Directors always has intelligent arguments when they disagree and that, apart from accolades, you are able to see success in your lifetime by a measure of your choosing.

Ann Elizabeth

Oceans and Plastics Links

The Algalita Marine Research Foundation (there's not a link to be skipped! What a great site)
How Stuff Works: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
From Greenpeace, Plastic Debris in the World's Oceans (this is a PDF)

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