I lived in Casablanca, Morocco for exactly 2½ years, from September 2000 to March 2003. My long-time fiancé was teaching English, and I was already a full-time freelancer. After a year, we went up to Gibraltar to get married, in large part because I had to keep leaving the country to renew my visa every three months. We were in Morocco on 9/11, and we left Morocco – coincidentally – the day before the war in Iraq began. (About a month later, several bombs exploded at places we’d been to: a restaurant near our apartment which we loved, and the Spanish cultural center.) Morocco is a beautiful, diverse country filled with extraordinarily generous people.

Plastic is taking over

I guess this is old news, but somehow it completely passed me by. 40% of the world’s oceans is covered in garbage – primarily plastic – concentrated in 5 enormous gyres, or vortexes. I can’t even wrap my head around the staggering amount of garbage this represents. There’s a stretch of land between Casablanca and Rabat, Morocco, that is just covered in plastic bags as far as the eye can see. It’s the place where Plastic Bags Go To Die, or so I thought. Apparently, it’s just a stopover on their way to join their brethren in the oceans.

Plastic bags are absolutely everywhere. In both Morocco and Costa Rica, they’re stacked high in shops, and it’s not uncommon to walk out of a store with $10 worth of groceries in 3 or 4 bags. Even though we bring bags with us, the baggers always seem to be trying to give us more bags, as if to make us feel we got our money’s worth. In the US, the “paper or plastic?” debate was never really resolved. Even our local natural foods store offerred both – though at least they were usually reused.

I don’t know. It’s not as if I have some amazing insights to share on this subject, but I just couldn’t bear to ignore it. Here’s more info, if you’re interested.

The Plastic Sea
Our Oceans Are Turning Into Plastic… Are We?
North Pacific Subtropical Gyre Garbage Map