We’ve reached a new low, folks. And in a very literal sense. Plastic pollution in our oceans is not a revelation and it’s not a problem with a simple solution. Using plastics is tough to avoid or escape in a developed world, but it is certainly good to get a little bit of perspective if you want motivation to make small changes.
So here’s your bit of perspective: A recent study revealed that a plastic bag is now the deepest-known piece of trash in the world. It’s the same kind of plastic bag you’d walk out of a grocery store with once and never use again. And it was found floating, or maybe just sitting, at a depth of 36,000 feet inside the Mariana Trench. To be a little more clear, the recorded deepest part of the ocean is the Challenger Deep, also in the Mariana Trench, at 36,070 feet below sea level. So basically, our trash has now officially found its way into the deepest part of Earth.
Scientists figured this out by studying 30 years of records from the Deep-Sea Debris Database, which is a collection of photos and videos taken from 5,010 dives. Of all the debris they could classify, plastic was the most common and plastic bags in particular, just like the one found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, were the most prevalent. The researchers determined that 89 percent of the plastic they found in these photos was single-use.
Of course, griping about this stuff is one thing and we all contribute to the problem(s) in one way or another. It does take a lot of attention to cut back on when an where plastic use creeps into our daily lives. NatGeo is running a helpful campaign aimed at helping us all make small, consistent changes that can lessen our footprint.