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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
By Sara Laks

Why is it so important to be a conscious consumer and a responsible investor?

Here’s a reason for today:  The Island of Garbage swirling in the Pacific Ocean, also known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, North Pacific Gyre, Trash Vortex, and Plastic Graveyard.

This mass of plastic waste and debris is estimated by scientists to be anywhere from twice the size of Texas to twice the size of the continental U.S.  And the impacts for the environment and society are potentially just as colossal.

Captain Charles Moore, who discovered the patch in 1997, warns of the mounting implications of our floating pollution explaining:  “In the central North Pacific Gyre, pieces of plastic outweigh surface zooplankton by a factor of six to one,” according to a report based on Moore’s research.

“Ninety percent of Laysan albatross chick carcasses and regurgitated stomach contents contain plastics.  Fish and seabirds mistake plastic for food.  Plastic debris releases chemical additives and plasticizers into the ocean.  Plastic also adsorbs hydrophobic pollutants like PCBs and pesticides like DDT.  These pollutants bioaccumulate in the tissues of marine organisms, biomagnify up the food chain, and find their way into the foods we eat.”

So what does this mean for us investors and consumers?  It means that everything comes full circle.  Where we buy our goods from, where we invest our money, where we throw out our trash—it all matters.  The negative ramifications of not paying attention to the impacts our consumer and investor behavior produce are all too visible in places like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Even if you live thousands of miles away as waste works its way up through our food chain, the problem looms closer and closer to home.  No one can afford to ignore it.

One of the most powerful strategies for change as an individual is supporting companies that have the most environmentally conscious products and services.  The more the public becomes aware and shows support for green companies the more incentives there are to make a difference on a larger scale.

Why is it important to be a conscious consumer and investor?  For the simple reason that if we don’t pay attention now we will pay for it later.

Steve Schueth, President

steveschueth@firstaffirmative.com

Sara Laks, Assistant to the President

saralaks@firstaffirmative.com

Posted: September 4, 2009