Thirty-eight million pieces of trash found on uninhabited island

A group of researchers decided to take a trip to a small remote island located in the Pacific Ocean, and what they discovered upon arrival is both mesmerizingly beautiful and frightening. The researchers were shocked to find an estimated thirty-eight million pieces of trash, mostly plastic, filling the sandy beaches of Henderson Island, which has been designated a World Heritage site largely because of its bird life. The island has now been labeled as having the highest density of plastic debris in the world, which is quite surprising considering how remote the island is and how little humans come into contact with the landmass. The main reason for the huge amount of trash that washes up on the island’s shores every day is because of how close it is to a vortex of ocean currents called the South Pacific gyre. The vortex tends to collect floating trash, which then ends up on Henderson island due to it being right on the edge of the currents. A research scientist named Jennifer Lavers and her team stayed on the island for over three months to conduct studies, and they estimated the weight of the trash to total 17.6 tons, or 35,200 lbs. Lavers claims to have cut down on her plastic use after the trip. “We need to drastically rethink our relationship with plastic,” said Lavers. “It’s something that’s designed to last forever, but is often only used for a few fleeting moments and then tossed away.”

The amount of plastic that washed up on this tiny remote island shows the growing problems with what people do with plastic after they are done using it. Plastic is meant to be recycled so it can be used over and over again; however many people leave their plastic pieces of trash in whatever spot is most convenient for them, including oceans and lakes. At least two species of sea birds living on Henderson Island are at risk from eating plastic debris, and that number will only rise given the amount of different and diverse species living on the minute island. Henderson Island should serve as a warning bell telling us that we need to definitely increase how much we recycle and to treat the land with more respect.

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