Posts Tagged ‘flotsam and jetsam’

My walking partner, who just finished reading Pocketful of Names, by Joe Coomer, asked me this morning the difference between flotsam and jetsam.  I didn’t know, so I’ve just looked it up. Per Merriam-Webster:

  • Flotsam is “floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo; broadly: floating debris.”  Related to ‘float’.
  • Jetsam is “the part of a ship, its equipment, or its cargo that is cast overboard to lighten the load in time of distress and that sinks or is washed ashore.”  From ‘jettison’.

When I looked it up, one of the links was to the Wikipedia article on marine debris. All roads lead back to the North Pacific Gyre, don’t they?

You can go read it yourself, but I’m just going to quote a chilling sentence:

Though it was originally assumed that most oceanic marine waste stemmed directly from ocean dumping, it is now thought that around four fifths of the oceanic debris is from rubbish blown seaward from landfills, and washed seaward by storm drains.

This morning I was thinking about paper plates, and wondering if they degrade in landfills if they are coated with plastic.  IS that coating on the ‘soakproof’ type of plate made of plastic?  If so, does it become nurdles after the paper is gone back into the earth?

We always have some way of being complacent, don’t we?  I can pat myself on the back for using paper plates instead of plastic at a cookout, and for putting my trash in a Kansas landfill as opposed to a coastal landfill, but it’s really all bad.  I’m pretty sure my nurdles, flotsam, and jetsam are contributors to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Faintly related flotsam and jetsam roiling around in my brain:

  • I saw a sticker on a car yesterday that said “Plastic bags blow.”
  • One of those Wikipedia articles used the word ‘anthropogenic’.  Good word, too bad we  have to have it.
  • ‘Flotsam’ seems to be able to stand alone.  ‘Jetsam’ doesn’t.

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