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The Trash Vortex

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Plastic is a very useful material — both durable and convenient — but these two qualities also lead to pollution on land and in the ocean. Did you know that 10% of the 100 million metric tons of plastic produced each year ends up in the sea?

Plastic bags, bottles and containers, packing, traffic cones, vehicle tires and toothbrushes all wind up on the shores of islands and in the trash vortex in the Northern Pacific Ocean.

“The trash vortex is an area the size of Texas,” says the Greenpeace website, “an estimated six kilos of plastic for every kilo of natural plankton, along with other slow degrading garbage — swirls slowly around like a clock, choked with dead fish, marine mammals, and birds who get snared.” What’s more, scientists recently discovered a similar garbage patch in the Atlantic Ocean.

Many of the plastics inside the vortex will not break down for many generations because they were not recycled properly. Explore the route the trash makes from the ocean currents and learn more about the damage to the ocean’s ecosystem below and don’t miss our behind the scenes pictures from our trip to see researchers looking at the Atlantic Garbage Patch.

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Americans sure must be thirsty. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, the United States gulped down about 7.5 billion gallons in 2005 alone. That's about 26 one-gallon milk jugs per person! But that's good news, right? After all, bottled water is healthy...or is it?

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In areas where good quality municipal water is not available, bottled water offers a healthy, convenient solution, but the demand for bottled water has expanded to regions with easy access to safe drinking water, creating an unnecessary drain on natural resources.

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Most water bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which comes from crude oil. Making enough bottles to meet our demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 100,000 U.S. cars for a year! That's not even counting the fuel used to ship those bottles to your local grocery store.

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You don't have to be a high-profile actor or politician to make a difference. Read on for easy ways you can help reduce the consumption of bottled water.

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1. Many schools have a student environmental group. Join and make decisions that will make your school greener. Don't have an environment club at your school? Start one.

2. Talk to your coaches about using reusable water bottles during team practices. Or better yet, buy non-disposable bottles and hand them out to your team.

3. There are many businesses that will print your school logo on water bottles. Order some and sell them at home games and pep rallies.

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Find out more about drinking water at these sites:

Bottledwater.org/

Drinktap.org

EPA.gov

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Tourists in L.A. are experiencing more than the usual sightseeing.

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Some recycling tips.

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Do you ever wonder if you're doing enough to protect Mother Earth? Maybe you recycle ...

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