Andy Keller, inventor of the ChicoBag company and alias Bag Monster, is setting sail on a new journey that is meant to expose the harmful affect that plastic bag pollution has on the world’s oceans.

Keller, who is famous for dressing up in a monster costume made of 500 single-use bags, a number that represents the average American’s annual use, is a proponent for reusable bags. On March 24th, Keller and top marine researchers from the 5 Gyres Institute began their journey aboard the vessel called Sea Dragon. They will be traveling to the South Pacific Gyre to collect water and marine life samples that will help to determine just how harmful plastic pollution is.

The 5 Gyres Institute is a nonprofit organization that has already done extensive research about the effects of plastic pollution, and is committed to raising awareness about this issue.

Plastic pollutes our oceans when it floats out to sea from land or is left by fishing boats and gear. Plastic products have been found in the stomachs of marine animals, meaning that not only is the plastic harming marine life, but the plastic is thus being integrated into our food chain.

The expedition is expected to last 16 days and will span from Valdivia, Chile to Easter Island.

Companies such as the ChicoBag company help to diminish the harmful effects of plastic by allowing consumers to buy reusable shopping bags and containers in hopes of reducing the use of single use plastic bags.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine Online, April 6, 2011