Le 7ème continent : un fléau planétaire
Le 7ème continent : un fléau planétaire

The 7th continent: a planetary plague

Faced with the climate emergency that we are all now facing, it seemed essential for Le Vent à la Française to contribute to informing and raising awareness about its challenges. Today, we wanted to raise the issue of the North Pacific garbage patch, more commonly known as the 7th continent. Indeed, it does exist, but it is not to please the planet or its inhabitants.

Still too little publicized, this growing phenomenon must be approached for the simple fact of understanding the impact of human production and consumption. The Vent team wishes to put words on these appearances, with the aim of prevention in all benevolence. Well aware that we are not exemplary since it is impossible to have a 0 impact, however the change is up to us.

Although strange, this phenomenon conceived by our own consumer society, deserves our full attention because it continues to expand and develop. Lovers of nature and the oceans, it seemed impossible to us to remain impassive. For this, we wanted to clarify the subject for you by evoking the consequences of our 8 million tonnes of plastic dumped at sea.


The 7th continent, a plastic monster


His appearance


To understand the appearance of this phenomenon, we must go back to 1997, when the navigator Charles Moore found himself by the greatest chance in a long and slow subtropical whirlpool in the North Pacific. At this moment, in addition to having the fear of seeing his boat submerged, the latter sees himself surrounded and submerged in a vast quantity of bottles, bags and other pockets, or even toys or plastic elements of daily life.

This is what he will later call “the Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, namely, in French, the largest area of ​​garbage in the Pacific. This sad discovery is today truly decried, censured, even denied. Following this unexpected event, he decides to go back there to assess the seriousness of the situation. It was 1 year later, 1998, that he went to the scene again to take samples. These are quite shocking since he already mentions the presence of 3 million tons of plastic waste at the time.


Waste in the Oceans


The myth of the plastic “continent”


Very often compared to the image of a territory and a continent , the vortex of waste is similar in our imagination to a vast patch of waste and rubbish. Indeed, to raise awareness and objectively translate the seriousness of the situation, scientists have chosen this comparison to warn the general public, but it does not really represent the truth.

This image is therefore only used to visualize the extent of the damage to tend more easily to a collective awareness. Thus, for you to better understand, you should know that this vortex of plastic is equivalent to the size of ⅓ of the United States, that is to say 6 times France. Although we have the image of a compact pile of plastic waste, the reality is quite different since it looks more like a “plastic soup”.

François Galgani, oceanographer and waste researcher at Ifremer, explains that this continent of plastic is made up of a large number of scattered macro-waste and a variety of small fragments. These infinities of micro-plastics are generally less than 5 millimeters and gravitate in suspension, from the surface to 30 meters in depth, if not more.


Some alarming figures


For you to understand the importance of a general awareness, you should know that in the 1950s, the production of plastic was around 1.5 million tonnes. While today, the use of plastic is unfortunately booming, since there are 300 million tons. The problem concerns 30 million of these, because this is the number that can be found each year on the coasts and in the oceans.

The situation is far from improving and that is why we speak to you with an open heart about our fears, towards the future of the planet. In 40 years, the Pacific Ocean has been polluted with a worrying number of plastic waste, having multiplied by 100. It is precisely this phenomenon that we now call the 7th continent, which is decimating many turtles , seabirds and many other species that are currently extinct or endangered.

Charles Moore also estimated that the amount of plastic in the water, in some places, is much greater than that of plankton, yet being one of the essential and elementary links of life in the oceans. Up to 10 times greater, scientists call these micro-plastics “plastic plankton” since they are very often absorbed by marine fauna, causing their loss.


Waste collection



Solutions to tackle plastic pollution


According to Marcus Eriksen, the director of research and education at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation is keen to set the record straight, that there is nothing we can do now except not do more. of badness. Thus, the main thing is to shake up your consumption habits to avoid all the factors that could harm the planet and indirectly affect us, the inhabitants.

Many actors have taken many actions to reduce the accumulation of plastic in the oceans. We are particularly thinking of the Maersk Launcher ship and the mission orchestrated by the Ocean Cleanup Foundation , inaugurated on September 8, 2018. The concept is based on placing a very large trap (600 meters deep) at the rear of the ship. length), aimed at capturing polluting waste and litter to help reduce the tons of plastics located in the Pacific Ocean. The NGO aims to collect the plastic floating on the surface that the boat will lift, and this will then be recycled.

Other initiatives aim to tackle the problem at its source, by learning how to act better on a daily basis. This is precisely the role of the Plastic Odyssey project being very committed against plastic pollution at sea. Very active, it is at the origin of numerous expeditions and has developed a system of floating barriers whose mission is to retain and capture plastic waste.

As for us, the Vent à la Française team wishes to contribute every day on its own scale, by taking care of the planet and more particularly the oceans. We could not remain passive in the face of the gravity of the figures: in 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than marine fauna, causing the loss of a large number of species present, which will be forced to feed on plastic and of rubbish.

Thus, we have a project in progress that we have chosen to call “ Contre-Courant ”, in the image of this action. The idea is based on the fact of creating bracelets from the recovery of this pollution. They will therefore be entirely made from recycled nylon, from used fishing lines recovered from seas and oceans around the world. It is clear that marine ecosystems rely on us, so let's give them back the beauty they bring to our environment.

So let's take charge of our future and let's all be agents of change together!