Plastic bags in the Mariana Trench


Swamp Rabbit and I were working a “food truck festival,” an event where humans gather in a big outdoor space for the sole purpose of pigging out. A news story from a few weeks back came to mind as I watched them:

An American man completed the deepest-ever solo underwater dive May 1. But when he reached the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, he found that another representative of the human world had gotten there first: plastic.

Victor Vescovo said he found a plastic bag and candy wrappers on the sea floor, some 35,853 feet below the surface…

Vescovo isn’t the first to find plastic at the bottom of the ocean’s deepest trench. A 2018 paper documented at least 3,000 pieces of litter in the trench, including a plastic bag at 36,000 feet below sea level. At least eight million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year, and, if this continues, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

Food festival attendees eventually become satiated and waddle away, but not before leaving in their wake a ton of plastic containers and other garbage, most of which ends up in landfills or in the oceans.

“Why are we here?” I asked the rabbit as we watched a human hippo gobble greasy fries topped with radioactive-looking cheese melt.

The question probably didn’t sound as philosophical as I’d intended. “We’re here to tell the peeps to use clean energy and save the planet,” Swamp Rabbit said. “It’s a mission, remember?”

But the hippo had freaked me out. I remembered an obscure Ed Sanders record from the 1970s with a title for the ages : Beer Cans On the Moon.

“It’s too late, rabbit. Everywhere we go, our trash is already there. The next frontier is outer space.”

I told him humans are hopeless, they don’t change. They fret about climate change but denude the forests. They clog the highways with cars and foul the water with plastic. They leave plastic everywhere, even on the North Pole.

“You got no room to talk,” Swamp Rabbit said. “You don’t drink nothing but that water from the Alps in them big plastic bottles.”

I told him I drink bottled water to protect myself, tap water is full of toxins. When they come up with a biodegradable substitute for plastic, I’ll switch to it right away.

“That’s lame, Odd Man,” he said. “You’re screwing up the planet with your plastic empties.”

He was getting under my skin. “What do you care about the planet?” I said. “You stumble around drinking whiskey most days.”

“At least whiskey don’t come in plastic bottles,” he replied.

He grinned at me, waiting for a comeback, but I didn’t have one.

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2 Responses to Plastic bags in the Mariana Trench

  1. Myra says:

    Get yourself a water filter and a stainless steel bottle, or just use Swamp Rabbit’s used whiskey bottles, and you too can ditch plastic bottles. Just sayin’.

  2. oddmanout215 says:

    Filters don’t catch the worst pollutants. I’ll stick to bottled water, though I wish my brand was available in returnable glass bottles. (Returnable bottles — what a concept!) Maybe I’ll solve the problem by switching to whiskey.

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