When people discovered big floating patches of waste plastic in oceans, they wanted to clean it up. Jambeck agrees that the famous giant garbage patch in the Pacific is a nightmare. But upon seeing it, her thought was: Wait a minute. Let's find out where it's coming from.

    If you leave the tap on and bathwater floods your home, bailing water isn't the first thing you do, she points out. You shut off the faucet.

    "What we can do is keep plastic from going in the ocean in the first place," she says.

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