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November 8, 2009

Over a month ago sheer curiosity led me to Honuguide’s Ecolounge event at Indigo. Man am I glad I went. Not so much for the “event”, but for the presentation I witnessed.

Joel Paschal used to work in Hawaii for a government funded organization. They received grants to sail into the Hawaiian Leeward Islands – a small, scattered chain stretching out northwest of the main Hawaiian archipelago – and clean the reefs and atolls. He showed us pictures of beaches humans have rarely if ever set foot on that are completely covered in garbage – the handiwork of sea dumping and the currents. Baby albatross, such as the one pictured above, are fed bits of refuse floating in the ocean by their parents, who skim it from the surface along with organic matter. Their stomachs can handle the organic matter, but not plastic. (The photo above was taken by a phenomenal photographer and activist named Chris Jordan.)

Joel shared with us some of the measurements they had taken of the units of plastic per square meter of ocean. I now forget the precise number, but they already greatly outnumber units of organic matter. When the government shut down his program, he was forced to return to California, where he conceived of the idea of building a raft made from junk and sailing it to Hawaii to raise awareness of what we are doing to our oceans. His journey is chronicled here.

There’s a real world out there we’re destroying. We need to start living smarter.

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