Global environmental challenges
Designers pitch ‘trashy’ island in Pacific
From time to time we are reminded there is a floating pool of plastic bottles, caps, and broken down debris roughly the size of Texas swirling in the Pacific Ocean.
There’s a collective disgust when it bobs back into view, like it did this week after the Guardian profiled a group of Dutch eco-architects and their ambitious design of a so-called Recycled Island made entirely of the trash now floating in the North Pacific, between Hawaii and San Francisco.
Most commentators acknowledge the award-winning architects‘ project, with costs still undetermined, is realistically never going to get off the drafting table.
But the project is winning accolades all over the blogosphere for its innovative infrastructure based on natural resources like solar and wave energy. The island even has its own agricultural region (See below).
The design is also winning points for resurrecting the issue of the garbage patch, an entirely preventable environmental disaster for birds and marine life who populate the same regions as our used water bottles, lighters, and plastic shopping bags, to name a few of the most commonly-found contents.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, first documented by Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in 1997, is not the only vortex of trash. There are five gyres now swirling in the world’s oceans, including in the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific and Indian Ocean, as detailed by 5 gyres.org.
The exact scope of the phenomenon in the Pacific is unclear, but last year a research team said they found plastic debris strewn across a 1,700-mile (2,700-km) stretch of open sea off the coast of California.
Images show an artist’s depiction of Recycled Island, courtesy of WHIM Architects. REUTERS/Handout