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Is the Pacific now “plastic soup”?

A little over six months ago, Ben Lecomte dove into the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Japan, in hopes of becoming the first person to swim the width of the ocean — from Japan to San Francisco, California. But the potential athletic record wasn’t his only motivation. He also wanted to bring awareness to the great Pacific garbage patch (GPGP), a vast area of floating plastic pollution.

On Monday, December 10th, Lecomte swam ashore in Oahu, Hawaii. He landed thousands of miles short of his original destination, but bad weather had damaged his guide boat beyond repair. While he made an incredible attempt, no one has yet to swim the full distance of the Pacific Ocean.

Lecomte’s work of sounding the alarm about plastic pollution, however, is stronger than ever. “Today, The Swim as a world record attempt has stopped, but The Swim as a platform keeps on living because it has always been the most important goal of the expedition,” he wrote.

Through entries in his logbook, Lecomte shared his experiences. It’s surprising to learn that he started the journey thinking the GPGP might be a “myth”; no airplane or ship captain had ever reported seeing it. But in his final days at sea, he wrote that he has experienced it more as a “plastic soup, where small pieces of plastic called microplastics gather with current, wind and wave conditions. In these areas, our net tows produced hundreds of plastic pieces within half an hour.”

The thought of a seemingly endless “plastic soup” is distressing. But like Lecomte, individuals can take action. Further, this collective action doesn’t require being out to sea for six months. It can be as simple as eliminating single-serve bottled water from our daily lives.

Consider this pollution-free alternative: fill a reusable bottle with crisp, clean water from the Coway Aquamega 100. The triple-filter system purifies drinking water right at home, directly from the kitchen tap. It reduces common contaminants by up to 99.9 percent and provides an unlimited supply of thirst-quenching water. With its stylish design, the Coway Aquamega 100 is a refreshing sight, too.