Speed Reads

why we can't have nice things

This remote island in the South Pacific is cluttered with more than 17 tons of trash

Humans' trash has even taken over a remote, uninhabited island in the South Pacific. A study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that even though Henderson Island takes about 13 days to reach when traveling by ship from New Zealand and is rarely visited by even scientists, it is home to nearly 18 tons of manmade trash. That's "the highest density of debris reported anywhere in the world," NPR reported.

The trash is swept to the island by ocean currents, where it resides alongside nesting sea turtles and petrels, an endangered bird species. Popular Science reported that "every square meter of the beach gets around 27 new pieces of junk added to its collection every day." "What's happened on Henderson Island shows there's no escaping plastic pollution even in the most distant parts of our oceans," lead study author Jennifer Lavers said in a statement. "Far from being the pristine 'deserted island' that people might imagine of such a remote place, Henderson Island is a shocking but typical example of how plastic debris is affecting the environment on a global scale."

Striking as the island's amount of trash may be, it's a tiny percentage of the world's total garbage. The researchers noted that Henderson Island's trash pile accounts "for only 1.98 seconds' worth of the annual global production of plastic."