Why Is There A Big Patch Of Garbage In The Pacific Ocean?

But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

By Vermont Public Radio

Why Is There A Big Patch Of Garbage In The Pacific Ocean?

Friday, 15 February

Why is there a big patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean? Four-year-old Leon has heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and he wants to know what the deal is. So we speak with someone who's actually been there! Teen Vogue News and Politics Editor Alli Maloney visited the garbage patch last year for a series called Plastic Planet. But in this episode we'll also explore how young people are becoming activists, trying to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced, waste that sometimes goes into the ocean. Anika Ballent, with the non-profit Algalita, shares what kids can and have been doing.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

"Why is there a big patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean?" - Leon, 4, Minneapolis, MN

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area in the middle of the ocean between California/Mexico and Hawaii where there's a high concenration of plastic waste. The Garbage Patch is a really big spot: 1.6 million square kilometers, almost 618,000 square miles.

This part of the Pacific Ocean is known as the North Pacific Gyre. A gyre is like a very slow moving whirlpool where ocean currents circulate. As these water currents swirl around, they collect all of this ocean trash into a concentrated location. There are three big garbage patches and the most famous one is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

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