Chair made of plastic drinking straws.

Chair made of plastic drinking straws.

In the spirit of GoLo, my friend Carolynn Box has started a blog to catalogue her use of plastics. Her aim is to start paying attention to what she uses with the hope that this knowledge will lead to changes in her plastic use behavior. The products she’s focusing on are the daily throw-aways we all take for granted: Coffee cup lids, plastic bags, straws, and yogurt cups. It turns out that these flimsy carriers are ending up in our oceans and forming giant free-form islands in the sea. One of the five accumulations is the size of Texas, and researchers suspect that others might be even larger.

Scientists are trying to get a handle on the real size and impact these gyres have on ocean ecosystems. They’re also trying to get the word out and educate the public about this largely unknown and alarming issue. As part of these efforts, 5gyres.org recruits young activists and communicators like Box (a geologist by training who works for the San Francisco Bay Delta Commission and is active in coastal policy organizations) to spend months at sea observing, measuring, and cataloguing these floating masses of stuff that most of us never think about after we throw it in the trash.

I, for one, will be following Carolynn’s story, and hopefully thinking about how to reduce my own consumption of single-use plastics. Here’s What Carolynn has to say about her project:

I’m going on a 5gyres.org research boat in Jan 2011 to study the plastic debris in the South Atlantic Ocean. In order to prepare myself and better understand the problem, i am logging my use of single-use plastic for the next month. and then i will try to reduce my use of plastic.