Eight million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans every year. Currents in the Pacific bring much of that garbage up to beaches along the Alaska coastline. In 2002, a group of volunteers began cleaning up this debris, and in 2006 this work evolved into a project known as the Gulf of Alaska Keeper (GoAK). To date, GoAK “has removed over 3 million pounds of toxic plastic debris from over 1,500 miles of critical and sensitive coastal habitat.” In many locations, the debris has been accumulating for decades. The items GoAK removes from these coastline habitats aren’t just sent to landfills, they are all sorted, counted, logged, and weighed. In 2007, GoAK also started looking into the origin of the trash, which accumulates from all over the world, and is exacerbated by natural events such as the tsunami in Japan. We are all responsible. We all use plastic. We can all take action on a personal, local, regional, and national level to reduce the amount of waste and litter ended up in these environments.

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  • chris

    "We're all part of the problem; we're all part of the solution. And you have to start somewhere." Inspiring example, I feel heartened!

  • Harish M. Dalal

    It is heartwarming to see so many people willing to stay away from their family and donate their time to clean planet earth for the rest of us. Feels like Christ's soldiers are walking the earth and the cleanup of our sins continues.

  • Maria MMaduro

    The main problem are the manufacturers of food and consumer items, for not being responsible in establishingto a recycle program on all the containers of items they sell. The governments are also not responsible enough in not demanding for all manufacturer to dispose in a responsible way of all the non degradable waste they create. When this is addressed and taken care of, from the top up, then the consumers will follow.

  • Anita Ricka

    My gratitude to these "saints" is beyound words. I also would like for us - the inhabitants on this amazing planet, Mother Earth - to realize that every little thing we do - affects everything else. Personally I am a tree hugger, literally and figuratively and an obsessive recycler. Please tell me that what you pick up up there is recycles. Please, please please. I feel so blessed that you are doing this work. I'd like to join when i retire.....

  • Paul

    volunteers and donations. this is inspiring. this is very worthwhile for the environment. but we still have thick plastic wrap on most hardware items , and plastic bottles are increasing despite what we know.

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  • Find out more about Gulf of Alaska Keepers and how you can support them in their critical work.
  • Write to and call your local, state, or national representatives to push for legislation against plastics, and to encourage discussion about environmental awareness, sustainable practices, and education.
  • Make a personal pledge to reduce your own plastic use. Reuse items you already have in your home, recycle those you can, and consider switching to alternatives such as reusable wrap made from beeswax, cotton, and resin, or glass mason jars.

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