Ocean pollution a growing problem in the northern Pacific and one that could change life on our planet within the next 20 years.


This NOAA map from 2010 shows the currents that helped create the Pacific garbage patch.


I remember the first time I felt it; I was paddling out on my surfboard and noticed a mushy, plastic-like substance sliding through my fingers. That’s what started my obsession with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The patch is located between Hawaii and California in the northern Pacific Ocean, where millions of small bits of plastic have gathered in a vortex of ocean currents known as a gyre.

As someone with experience raising awareness for worthy causes, I paired my professional skills with my personal passion for the ocean, creating the award-winning documentary “Aqua Seafoam Shame,” which spotlights the mess in the ocean that has garnered precious little media attention. (The entire documentary was shot using my iPhone.)

Fifteen years ago The Patch was the size of Texas, but now it’s the size of the continental United States. Plastic in the ocean has far-reaching implications that, if not addressed within 20 years, could change life on this planet. To date, 177 species of sea life are known to ingest plastic; other species feed on those creatures, extending the chain of damage.

People eat the seafood that eats plastic, and the planet gets its rain from the oceans, which are being polluted at an exponential rate. We use significantly more of our planet’s surface as a dump than for growing food; this has to change.

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Veronica Grey is an award-winning author and filmmaker and the recipient of the 2011 New Media award from the Pare Lorentz Film Festival.

Here are five tips to begin addressing plastics pollution:

  1. Americans buy 2 million bottles of water every five minutes; ditch plastic bottles and use glass or recyclable cans.

  2. Carry a cost-effective canvas bag instead getting disposable plastic bags at the grocery store. We waste 10 billion plastic bags every week!

  3. Don't line your trash cans with plastic bags. Use paper bags or nothing.

  4. Skip the lid on your to-go drinks. The paper cup is normally recyclable but the lid usually isn't.

  5. Remember that each and every time you flush; it all ends up in the ocean. Be mindful of what you toss in your toilet!

Veronica Grey is the director of “Aqua Seafoam Shame,” a critically acclaimed documentary exploring the diagnosis that 25 percent of the planet's surface is now a landfill due to the Pacific garbage patch and plastics.