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Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain's Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  401 ratings  ·  75 reviews
A prominent seafaring environmentalist and researcher shares his shocking discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean, and inspires a fundamental rethinking of the Plastic Age and a growing global health crisis. In the summer of 1997, Charles Moore set sail from Honolulu with the sole intention of returning home after competing in a trans-Pacific ...more
Hardcover, 358 pages
Published October 27th 2011 by Avery Publishing Group
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Book Him Danno
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
You can argue about the environment, whether the crisis is manmade or natural, and what we should do about it until you are blue in the face. The problem most of the green movement is faith based and is actually volatile to true science. But trash is an exception. Trash is clearly a man-made object, and as humans we are terrible at disposing of it in a consistent, efficient, and clean manner. Any walk about your community or even a local nature area will demonstrate how we fail at this, with ...more
Kerry Shoji
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was both enlightening and scary. Well written and presented. Given all the scientific information, it was not a difficult read and presented the facts in laymen terms. It brought home the point the vastness of the plastics in the gyre, its harm to seaflife and human life and the urgency to take action to prevent further marine debris from being generated and the clean-up of the growing gyre.
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
All the plastics ever manufactured, still exists. Plastics absorb & concentrates toxins. Ultimately billions of tons of plastic finds its way into our ocean and is consumed by marine life. As horrifying as this is, it gets worse. Plastic bits eventually blanket the ocean floor in a type of plastic sand, creating a barrier to the natural oceanic carbon sink which naturally absorbs 25% of the carbon in our atmosphere. In other words, plastics accelerate global warming, with no chance of ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm doing an average here -- 2 stars for writing style, 4 stars for topic/nature of the book.

The first third of the book was quite hard for me to get into -- I thought there was a lot of extra info that didn't need to be in the book (did not care about boat details and all the "salty sailor" lingo). And his writing style grated on my nerves -- he constantly fluctuated between present tense and past tense. It made it tough to read.

But, overall, super important topic, and it inspired a lot of
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: raindog-s-books
This is a fascinating, if not depressing, book about the pollution of our oceans by plastic products. It seems there's no end to man's ability to muck up perfectly pristine environments. The book is a bit heavy on the side of factoids, but I suppose Captain Moore would rather err on the side of overkill than let us think things aren't truly dire beneath the waves and filtering through our fishy food chain. If we are what we eat, then in no time we, too, will be made of plastic! What a pleasant ...more
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Oh my gosh! What a book! It is very upsetting to read of our destruction of the oceans with plastics. There was one spot in the book where I had to turn away for awhile until I could continue reading. I highly recommend this and also recommend learning to say no to plastic.
Jacquelyn Casazza
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While this was a dense read, it’s critical to the understanding of the plastic problem. The book raises many important questions and blows apart myths we have about plastics. I found the information about the development of the industry itself fascinating as well as questions like - why don’t we put more pressure on producers to be responsible? Why is it the consumer who must so diligently wash plastics (I do) to be recycled - when in reality so little of our plastics are actually recycled? We ...more
Nov 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, non-fiction
This is my first one star rating this year. I don't have many of these low ratings, plus this one even landed on my DNF pile which is very rare for me. I was more than half way through and I just couldn't do it any more. It was so dry and the beginning was filled with so much minutia that I kept saying to myself, "I'll just give it 30 more minutes." Then I'd repeat that time and time again. Finally when I started answering back, "Why do you want to?" I had to let it go.

I think this is a much
Lorraine Akemann
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm giving this book five stars because it's not often that you read a book that changes your course of action. This one did. The author was well written, well referenced, and well intentioned.
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who cares about this planet
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it's definitely on my re-read list. I quite like Charles Moore's style. He's one of those scientists I'd love to meet.

Here are some of this things that really stood out to me:

"But this story has never been only about plastics. It's about an epic shift from austerity and frugality to abundance and profligacy" (97).

*"You may think it's wrong to knock large corporations for their green efforts. You may think they will lead the way to a greener way of life. And
Feisty Harriet
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: environment
3.5 stars. Stop buying single-use plastic, stop ruining the planet. And here are hundreds of pages of first-hand experience and research and proof, just in case you need it. For being published almost 10 years ago (2011), it is REMARKABLY current.
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Polly by: Angela Olsen
Charles Moore, like the sea captain he is, masterfully reels in readers; spinning a yarn of thirteen years of personal experiences into a shared quest for truth about the state of the Earth's Oceans. More gripping than the Odyssey, Charles walks with readers along beaches,through ancient still waters and across the silent parts of the planet.
What does a carpenter do with his childhood love of the ocean, and some inheritance in his pocket? He builds a boat, get's a captains license, and asks
Taran Hewitt
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have just read the paperback edition (pub 2012) and it was an extraordinarily interesting read. Captain "Charlie" has done some really first class research into not only the plastic that has collected in the East Pacific Gyre, but also into the history and use of plastics over the last fifty or so years. The book provides a fascinating insight into the way American society (in particular) has become fixated on a world that is dominated by the throwaway attitudes that have developed from the ...more
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well that was disturbing. It's one thing to know we have a plastics problem, it's another to have so clearly spelled out by someone who's spent decades chasing it around the ocean. I'm certainly even more motivated to reduce my household plastic use now. The only thing I can fault him for is briefly stepping far beyond the consensus and the evidence to assert that autism and autoimmune disorders are caused by our environmental contamination. The fact is we don't know that, and I was a little ...more
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Factoid: Over the course of two years of plastics production, the weight of those plastics equals the collective weight of every man, woman, and child on this planet.

Depressing as hell . . . a must read, especially for those of us who want good, quality arguments for reducing/eliminating our addiction to oil and oil-based products, which of course plastic is. We need to stop using the ocean as a convenient dump, for a variety of reasons, not least our moral obligation to the future of all
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
My first exposure of this problem was when the Indonesian airplane went down and can't be found because of all the debris in the oceans. So I picked this up from the library to learn some more of the subject, and boy was I blown away!! How terrible we humans are in pursue of profit and ease. The question should not be of how big of a carbon footprint are you leaving behind, but how big of a PLASTIC one!! Wow.
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wow. Turned out to be a page turner/accessible book about a scientist turned activist's path to discovering the magnitude of plastic pollution in the ocean. Really changed my views on recycling, plastics in general and what the focus of my own environmental activism should be. It is getting a lot of attention in the environmental media, but I thought it was a very readable book.

One of the best books I've read this year. Found myself waking up early to read before the school day hustle!
Dawn Wynne
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Charles Moore is a pioneer discovering what is consider to be the garbage patches in our oceans. He clearly explains why plastic is so harmful and why our only solution is to eliminate our dependence on plastic. Recycling is not enough. A must read to truly understand this devastating epidemic we are faced with.
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment, 2012
Bottom line: There is no piece of plastic too small to have a devastating effect on ourselves and the environment, and our consumption (and disposal) of plastic is totally out of control. Highly recommended.
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was phenomenal. It was extremely informative talking about more than a plastic ocean and more than just his journey. Lots of great information and background history. all i can say is very interesting, enlightening, and inspiring. we gotta make changes.
Nov 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a MUST read. I am definitely going to make an effort to use a lot less plastic. I hope Plastic Ocean sparks a movement amongst consumers to protest the use of plastic.
Brian Umholtz
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a sobering account of the conditions of our oceans. Spoiler alert: we're screwed. The EPA has no teeth to affect change in regards to setting guidelines and best practices- it can only assess any damages chemicals have wrought and enforce punishment. Captain Moore lays out in this book what his organization is doing to both raise awareness and actually put a dent in the problem, but it's not as simple as it may seem before you read it. Boogeyman corporations aside, sometimes our worst ...more
Cynthia Lam
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Truly disturbing. My impression is that this is a problem that is bigger than climate change. It needs attention now! The answers are not simple. Instead of the 3 "Rs" the author proposes the 4 "Rs". Refuse, Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse (chapter 16, p 331). We are fouling our living space, food web, while the force of unregulated chemical industry keeps on making more and varied plastic products. Makes me wonder how much of the disease we've seen in our family is due to chemical contamination. Ye' ...more
Katy Koivastik
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
The disposables piper has arrived and now must be paid! This is a must read for anyone concerned with the health of the world’s oceans, rivers and marine life. The book is well-researched, well-presented and read with appropriate urgency by Mel Foster.

Possibly the most heart-breaking chapters concern “derelict fishing gear”, now made of plastic. Because it is impossible to know which fishermen are dumping their now less costly gear at sea (to make room for a larger catch), I am personally
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book stutters a bit at the outset, first laying down a bit of the author's past, and his trusty conveyance. It's a bit meandering; that section needs shaving.

Shortly after that, however, the book grows teeth, and the small and big pictures grow grimmer and grimmer and more devastating as he goes along.

We have really @#%$ed things up, is the most elegant way to put things.

What's inspiring is that this wasn't his path. He was simply a boat captain, but it became a calling, and he gains respect
Mike Renz
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
My profession makes me more aware of environmental problems than the average citizen. Yet this was a problem I had no grasp of. What I thought I knew about it, was largely inaccurate. What I learned from this book was alarming.

Plastic contamination of our surface waters, including the oceans and great lakes, is an existential threat. The public has little idea of the consequences. In this age of willful ignorance, its unlikely that we will have any meaningful regulatory action.

Plasticization of
Julia Leporace
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"For decades, plastics got a pass. The few dissenting voices that questioned the safety of plastics were ignored, muted, or marginalized. Later research opened my eyes to the fact that early skeptics were speaking out almost from the beginning, in the 1950s and sixties. Learning this fortified my growing conviction -now speaking as an activist- that unpleasant truths will not be acted on, let alone listened to, until the major moving parts in a culture are aligned for a paradigm shift."
Jun 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book may be me least favorite ever. Don't read it, I actually couldn't get past page 63 and I was able to present a whole project on less than a third of the book because it was so repetitive. It's an important topic, but I would recommend checking out some articles about plastic production instead, because this is 90% him talking about his company and buying boats and just random statistics for 300+ pages.
Mark Wheaton
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I understand logically that this is non-fiction but it has the same effect as reading a horror novel, particularly when one puts it down, checks the news and sees the current administration dismantling the EPA and deregulating heavy industry, that picks it back up to read in precise detail the damage all that is doing to the ocean and the land.
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great journey to read and gives you lots of thinking about your environment and plastic usage. I also enjoyed his learning and comments about how to make an impact by using a more scientific method, which I often see lacking in current activists ' movement for environment.
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