“Mommyo, why are you taking pictures of a soap bottle?”

Normally I don’t like to talk about commercial products on my blog, but while we wandered through our local supermarket the other day, The Six-Year-Old found something that is just too good of an idea to keep to ourselves.

Perhaps you have heard of the giant vortex of plastic mucking up the Eastern Pacific Ocean (and by giant I mean twice the size of Texas). National Geographic ran an interesting article on it in 2009, complete with pictures of some of the debris.

A fishing net floats in the Eastern Pacific Garbage dump. (Source: National Geographic)

A fishing net floats in the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch. (Source: National Geographic)

The depressing thing is that while this garbage dump is massive, it’s not the largest one out there. The garbage patch off South America’s coast may be even bigger.

Plastic in the environment sticks around for hundreds of years, and doesn’t decompose so much as get broken up in lots of little pieces over time. Some of the ocean’s plastic is still big enough to be used as transport carriers for invasive species hitching a ride to other ports, but most of it is small enough to be eaten by marine life for lunch.

The confetti-sized plastic particles make cleaning the garbage dump tricky. Any net that can scoop up plastic confetti is going to scoop up lots of marine life as well.

Fortunately, we can come at this problem from another angle. Researchers estimate that 80% of the plastic in the world’s oceans comes from debris left by people visiting the beach. Cleaning up our beaches could go a long way toward cleaning up our oceans.

Which brings me to that photogenic soap bottle.

method's submarine grey bottle is made of 100% recycled plastic, including 10% recycled ocean plastic. C'mon other cleaning product companies, give us more ugly grey environmentally friendly bottles. This idea is simply brilliant! (Photo: Shala Howell)

method’s submarine grey bottle is made of 100% recycled plastic, including 10% recycled ocean plastic. C’mon other cleaning product companies, give us more ugly grey environmentally friendly bottles. This idea is simply brilliant! (Photo: Shala Howell)

method has introduced a dish and hand soap that they package in a bottle made of recycled ocean plastic. method employees collect the plastic for the bottles from beaches in their local area. True, the bottle is an ugly grey, but the little nubbles on the side give it a steampunk submarine feel.

I like it. With one pump I’m cleaning my hands, my dishes, AND the world’s oceans. It’s the trifecta of cleaning.

I just have to be sure to recycle the plastic bottle again when I’m done.

Great find, The Six-Year-Old!

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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