Cleaning Up the Oceans' Plastic Soup

By Dianna Cohen

Ever since I was young, I've loved the ocean. I grew up in Southern California near the Pacific Ocean. Any excuse to jump in the water was good enough for me. In the course of my life, I've noticed increasing amounts of plastic pollution in the sea. Initially, I would gather what I was able to collect, tie it to my bikini, bring it out and find a garbage can on land. The problem is that I started seeing more and more.

In 2007, I heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and my first response was, "Oh my gosh! We have got to go out there and clean this thing up!," which I described in a TEDx Talk on Mission Blue in 2010.

We now know that the entire ocean has become a "plastic soup" and filled with particles so tiny that some describe it as "plastic smog."

With more than 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing more than 250,000 tons afloat at sea, we have a disaster on our hands.

Plastic pollution is an urgent problem, and unless we intend to live in a garbage dump, constantly exposing ourselves to the chemicals (which leach from plastics) and to eat seafood (which has also ingested these plastics), the time has arrived to address this issue.

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Dianna Cohen is CEO and Co-Founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition.