The Pacific garbage patch isn’t alone. That swirling mass of refuse between Hawaii and California has a sibling in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Associated Press.

The miles-wide patch of small, nearly invisible plastic is a serious threat to seabirds, fish and marine mammals, officials say. They speculate that up to 80 percent of the rubbish is generated on land, reaching the ocean through rivers and streams on the densely populated East Coast of the mainland United States. The phenomenon is most pronounced between Washington, D.C. and Cuba, one research team says.

The news seems to confirm scientists’ suspicions that the so-called “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” identified a decade ago, is not unique. Instead, both garbage patches are symptoms of man’s impact on nature around the globe. Another research team to study the trash in the North Atlantic, between Bermuda and Portugal, has already announced plans to travel through the South Atlantic and the South Pacific for similar projects.

Because the oceans can’t easily be cleaned, the only way we can solve this problem is to stop the problem at the source: on land. The tiny island state of Hawaii produces countless tons of solid waste, most of which ends up being burned, in landfills, or on barges. But you know not all of that ends up in garbage cans — a lot of it ends up in the ocean that we all depend on so heavily.

What should we be doing here in Hawaii to stop plastic garbage from entering the ocean? How are you doing your part?

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