Garbage Island

Garbage Island

2008, Environment  -   93 Comments
Ratings: 7.03/10 from 174 users.

Garbage IslandVice sails to the North Pacific Gyre, collecting point for all of the ocean's flotsam and home of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: a mythical, Texas-sized island made entirely of our trash.

As long as it's existed, the middle of the Gyre has been a naturally occurring point of accumulation for all the drifting trash in its half of the ocean. Once upon a time, flotsam circled into the middle of the Gyre and (because up until the past century everything in the world was biodegradable) was broken down into a nutrient-rich stew perfect for fish and smaller invertebrates to chow on.

The problem with plastic is, unless you hammer it with enough pressure to make a diamond, it never fully disintegrates. Over time plastic will photodegrade all the way down to the individual polymers, but those little guys are still in it for the long haul. This means that except for the slim handful of plastics designed specifically to biodegrade, every synthetic molecule ever made still exists.

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93 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Steven Francis

    I wanted to show this to my Middle School students and had to stop the “Documentary???” Due to the potty mouth reporter on the boat. I am not against a curse word or two, However this guy dropped a “F” bomb every 5 secs. On the documentary.

  2. Kirsten

    The underlying message of this documentary is important for everyone to see but....
    What is with the awkward make out scene?? This is an environmental documentary, why do we care about who picked up who on their trip out to sea? And the guy constantly dropping the f-bomb made it hard to watch. These 3 VICE children (because they act like children for the majority of the film) came across incredibly ignorant and immature. Huge thumbs down.

  3. Buttsalle

    I like how the comment by "Josie" implies that normal people relate to idiot behaviour. They should make a documentary about that.

  4. Sue

    This would have been a great documentary to show my students so they would be informed of this travesty. However, I cannot show this to my middle school students because of the language.

  5. John

    67 min documentary about a boat ride to hawaii, never did see a"Garbage Island" or anything close to it.. complete waste of my time

  6. amy Lateran

    Why complain/whine about the garbage in the ocean when the garbage coming out of their mouths was just as disgusting. It was hard for us to tolerate too. At least the ocean garbage is silent.

  7. Ariel

    At about 4 minutes, the captain says there is no red/orange plastic bits because fish and birds eat it thinking it's shrimp. Shrimp only becomes that colour after being cooked.. doubt the "shrimp" are cooked before the aforementioned animals consume it... Just saying.

  8. burton

    The bespectacled, hipster doofus nerd with the extremely punchable face and who can't seem to get through a sentence without uttering the F word made what should've been a serious documentary into one that I could barely get through.

    1. Steven Francis

      I tried showing this to my middle school students and had to stop due to this idiot reporter who could not control his language!

  9. yy

    just a bunch of immature idiots. I didn't learn anything about the Gyre at all

  10. John M.

    20 minutes watching, still no island of plastic...boring....stopped watching. Poorly done!

  11. mdc86

    This is an interesting topic but the way this documentary has been done is ridiculously crappy. There have been so many non-related (e.g. the kiss between the guy and girl from vice - so cheesy and unnecessary) scenes that should have been left out to pave way for more substantial content. There are ways to make documentaries less boring and more relatable but this isn't one of them. I seriously hope someone would do a better job of exposing this garbage island in a more professional and educated way.

  12. Brett Stich


  13. Brett Stich

    lol this is actually the worst documentary i've ever seen, and i've watched one about barney the purple dinosaur

  14. Lawstudent

    I'm writing a legal paper on floating debris and was considering using this as a citable source ... until I watched it.

  15. Leahh

    This idea is a great one to document but this guys mouth is just as toxic as the waste he is documenting. He is not a serious reporter and who can respect that?

  16. Danny wood

    in middle of ocean and come up with not one but like plastic pieces frack u and all gore!!!!

  17. lpen7

    I was really interested in watching this, until I did. Felt like watching a groups bad vacation video! I'm not particularly offended by "f-bombs" but their constant, often gratuitous, use makes the makers seem uneducated & unprofessional. Production in general was poor but could have been easily tolerated had the substance been there. I suppose research or a different doc is in order for me.

  18. Robert England

    He said the F word 3 times in one sentence in the first 2 minutes... Would be nice if CHILDREN could watch this since it concerns them even more than us.

  19. Travis Sichel

    Encountered an island of trash couples days off the coast of Brazil. 99% of it was actually floating a good foot underwater. But I hopped off the boat and walked along it and it totally sustained my body weight! pretty sure it was a good meter thick.

    Took us hours to get boat out of it as we were stuck. I imagine it was a good 100 meters wide but who knows. we hit the edge quite by accident.

  20. Hazmatte

    Someone please remake this film sans the incredibly annoying, narcissistic, unenthused and seemingly uneducated people.

  21. Francois

    1 hour of stupid people on a boat and 7 mins of documentary. I forgot there is 30 sec of romance...It's more like a bad vacation home video

  22. Josie

    Who cares about the language used. It's supposed to be relatable. "Normal" people experiencing extraordinary things that show the disastrous effect we have on our planet. There are enough documentaries with straight laced experts, scientists and political representatives and it's fantastic. We need those, but we also need all sorts of perspectives at this point to show that this issue is truly affecting everyone. You can be a bunch of kids on a boat and see how monstrous the affects of plastic are. Agreed, there could have been more stats.

    1. Shane013a

      I believe we've had enough stats about things that are killing all. We just need to STOP. Stop using plastic in every way we can until we don't anymore. Stop letting ourselves believe the lies we are fed about 'safe levels' of things such as fallout. Just STOP.

  23. Preshod cole

    I find it funny how people can watch something so disturbing, and only feel the need to write about the f*cking curse words being used, just shows how most probably wont do anything but watch and recommend to friends, that's why they need it holsum

    1. Robert England

      The word is 'Wholesome' and this subject matter concerns young children far more than adults, It would be nice if they could watch it that's all.

  24. BanishedJester

    Why do we have a name for everyone? Hipsters, goths, democrats, republicans...
    I think we should discard this label language and refer to only people or men, women, boys and girls.

    The documentary was alright. The language was sloppy for a doc and it is sad that these young men and women have to see what their predecessors have left for us. Does this not make a statement against what is called and honest living? If you grow and use nature to furnish our goods we find less accumulation of waste. It simply composts. But if you work in industry what are you doing? Are you not another cog in the murder machine spitting out more consumer trash for the next generation to deal with? Are not drug makers who use petrochemicals and other synthetics just dumping more poison into our biosphere for later cleanup and removal? Or rather you and I are the filters. Cannabis plastics go away. But our companies don't use them. Huh?

  25. Eduardo leal

    Does any one if there's a subtitle version in spanish of this documentary, I would love to show it to my environmental impact class here at the University of Guadalajara

  26. Kate Valleri

    The concept of this doco was brilliant, and just what I'd like to show to my students. However, after watching the first twenty minutes, I can't help but agree with the comments below. Terribly produced, narcissistic and painful to watch. An embarrassing representation of today's youth.

  27. Michael Oconnor

    I do not understand why he has to swear all the time. I mean, sure everyone swears; But this is a documentary for the public to see. The public includes younger viewers who may be interested in learning about pollution. If he shut up for five minutes, and actually did some real research he might have made a good, educational documentary. The only ones doing any work were the captain and his assistants. The crew vice sent in seemed like a bunch of college dropouts. I learned more about how big of a loser that Morton guy was. Hes scared of water, and gets sick at the thought of anything out of his comfort zone, such as a fish being filleted or a boat rocking. Why did they send such a seemingly uneducated baby to research pollution. I enjoyed what I saw, but the Vice crew did nothing to make the documentary good. The bearded fellow wasn't bad. He did not do much, but he wasn't detrimental to the film.

  28. Nakor4Twunny

    The dolphins were cute. :D

  29. UnderfoundGreebies

    There should be a warning about the explicit dialogue, My 5 year old daughter got a "F" word about thirty seconds in....THANKS ALOT

  30. apaulocreed

    And as I watched the end,seeing the bold boy expressing his outrage before he returns to his cozy upperclass background&the girl smiling with a bottle of beer on the beach they're both bitching about...I pat myself on the back for being wise enough to constantly skip forward&summarize it to a 12 minute experience=Phwew!!!

  31. James Robert Edwards

    Sickening; and very well made documentarfy

  32. Patricia

    It´s so sad to see how these hipsters suffered so.

    1. Sarcastic_Drew

      Take thy mainstream from out my heart, and take thy flannel from off my door!' Quoth the hipster, `Nevermore.'

  33. Patricia

    Hipsters are funny.
    It´s so ironic.

  34. Mark Waller

    There are two types of people. Those who mindlessly consume without thinking about the consequences, and the others. Which are you?

  35. max0680

    this documentary has a good message in it we should take seriously, but it was produced by a bunch of wannabe enviromentalists. the guy thinks he is a bada** with his frequent cussing. he behaves like a braindead i*iot.

  36. Lindsey Rice

    The documentary is not about the characters. What we have is one hell of a visualization of the sum that stems from our non-nonchalant use of plastic. These are atrocious actions that are irredeemable are killing the very last resource that mankind will have, water. As George Carlin says, "Mother Earth is fine, its the HUMANS that are ******!"

  37. Sol Ruiz

    Too much plastic and too many "like, like" in this video. The guy is r*tarded, and the girl is a bimbo. Who sent these people out to do any research!

  38. McKenzie

    I understand that there's always going to be a sense of judgement towards the so called "cool hipsters" from California, and yes the do excessively swear. Look at the actual point of the documentary and look around the necessary stuff that is blinding you from the main point. The idea of this documentary is the journey these guys take to find this island made of trash and their reaction since they are obviously the ones filming and at there experiencing it.
    Stop judging and being blind and open your minds to the pollution that is covering this planet and do something about it.

  39. biskits86913

    This documentary sucks! Iv seen a few vice docs and they are all fairly bad. No facts and analysis, just footage and opinion with the odd quote on screen.......pshhh

  40. biskits86913

    this guy is a knob

  41. Steve Thompson

    The narrator in this film is a 20 something braindead i*iot whose sole descriptive vocabulary consists of " fkng" this and "sht" that. I think he thinks he's cool. He makes this unwatchable.

  42. Matt van den Ham

    When I was growing up the school system and the media really stressed that 'we shouldn't pollute or litter because some things like wrappers and plastic bottles aren't biodegradable' and by law can write you a ticket. Yes I understand that it's a good practice to teach children to keep their environment clean, but ticketing citizens for 'polluting' is ridiculous, it should be up to the manufacturer's to make biodegradable products!! And where do you think all the garbage goes?? it just gets buried in the ground.

    With all the laws surrounding the environment in the public sector, how can the Government be so ignorant to such things? The public needs to wake up to the use of harmful plastics to our environment. We should only be using plastics for things that are intended to last a lifetime, not water bottles etc.

  43. Irvine Ali

    32yrs ago Carl Sagan warned of both garbage and plastic waste especially in the area of Hawaii, but what is the answer, in the case of plastic waste what do we do with it, I agree with what OCmackdaddy says but it's not the total answer.

  44. OCmackdaddy

    I don't know why there are so many haters on the language used on this doco. And sure they're not scientific professionals but they are making a point and getting out there to create some awareness for the cause that they believe in!!! GOOD F*CKING JOB VICE !
    I think this was a good doco because ultimately it makes you think about the fact that there is a whole lot of crap floating around in the ocean - as a direct cause of human consumption and globalisation. This crap is disrupting the flow of the natural environment around us, so what are we going to do about it? We can all make a small difference, buy a green shopping bag for $1, re-use a plastic coffee cup in cafe's. Get off your ass and buy some fresh fruit and veg and prepare your own meals at home....Quite frankly though, this is one small example of how humans are impacting on the natural environment, and its sad that we have little or no power in influencing the big players - mining/oil companies / mass corporations and governments!?!?!?

    1. andwhatda

      im sorry they make it seem like a joke and it makes me sick. i wasnt able to make it half way into this and would not recommend watching this to anybody.

    2. Bryan Rawlinson

      I'm no hipster, and I don't really like the language, but I completely agree with you. 45 comments on top, and 0 about the issue.

  45. Simon Gramstrup

    A documentary about how to take a serious subject and totally **** it up by turning it into a reality style 'road'-trip for a bunch of nobodies! :-/

    Don't bother watching this..

  46. prakash lamichhane's not only about using but about how and where it ends and its consequences?

  47. MrTemp0

    We are aware of the plastic situation but you forget that there is a price to pay for having nice things and modern technology and plastics is one of them.
    I see in your video you yourself are using plastics to hold some of your supplies in and other stuff that just would not be made without your so called evil plastics of the world.
    So you are hypocrites to suggest banning plastics whilst using them yourself.
    Would you be satisfied if we go back to the caveman era without all the new modern technology ?
    So make up your minds !
    Caveman or live and manage what we have now !

  48. seamus watson

    With all the crap we eat and the fact that most of our surfaces are covered in urine and feces, it's a wonder we haven't died off from disease. Its so depressing that there is no answer to this.

  49. seamus watson

    If we stop using these materials now and they never go away. What is the solution.


    you can actually just skip the first half, it just shows them getting ready for their trip. the second and last parts are the best, in terms of finding this "garbage island." people on this comment thread are complaining about the presenters in this "doc", but really, get over yourself. what i got from the show was that essentially, we are all living on "garbage island", by introducing compounds that are not biodegradable. and also that the debris is sometimes so small that it is changing the physical make up of our oceans. i'll agree that this is not a very serious doc, i think more screen time with the spanish scientist on board would have been nice, but the point was made. also, this whole thing could have been 20 minutes long, it didn't need to be over an hour.

  51. bluffst

    This was a wasted opportunity. A bunch of amateurs masquerading as a solution to the problem. And then to kill a fish - and at its carcass? And making a crass remark that they couldn't believe they were eating a fish that had been swimming in a filthy ocean. What does that say for their ethics? If these clowns spent 6 months on a Sea Shepherd ship they would get an education.

    1. seamus watson

      Yeah, I see your point. Typical city people. They would die in jail or some other longish confinement.

  52. rufusclyde

    This is not a documentary about garbage island. It is a reality show about some underdeveloped people travelling on a boat to garbage island. It was excruciating to watch.

  53. Sarcastic_Drew

    Do the dirty hipsters really need to cuss that much? LOL This docu is a joke. Waste of time to watch.

  54. ulickmcgee

    Its like totally garbage dude.

  55. Lithium

    It can't be polycarbonate plastic as they claim; it's density is higher than that of water and it would sink, not float.

    1. Shane Henrik Lamminparras

      Pretty interesting statement. I had originally though it was because it was salt water, thus more dense, but even then it doesn't work out. Perhaps these had air in them and so they floated?

  56. SilverBee

    I'm not going to continue watching. It's nice to see the boat and the various activities of the crew. But the pleasure is spoiled when someone can't refrain from saying what I'm going to call "bad words." I'm really not a person who makes a lot of an occasional word, but here I was watching the beautiful dolphins, imagining being there, and it's all spoiled, having to listen to the garbage coming out of that young man's mouth.

  57. John Krisfalusci

    Hahhahaa they ended up F*cking in the Engine room. Thats freakin EPIC!

    Oh yeah and VICE confirms there is no Texas sized garbage patch out there. LOL

  58. fhade

    So beautiful to see plastic provides a home for so many shell creatures.

    1. SilverBee

      It doesn't do much good for jellyfish, though.

  59. Atescoop

    Now I am so glad the nonrenewable oil is going to run out.Not glad that my children might starve to death, but at least I won't be around to see it.

  60. big_big_trees

    Big up for the VICE peeps!!! Good job on this.

    I live in LB where this trip started from. We were exposed to Capt Moore's discovery many moons ago. Sadly there hasn't been much in our consuming industry that has changed for us to curb our destructive ways. I just hope some day thing will change.

  61. TheDanishViking

    I actually think the movie got the message through in the end (and for some unexplainable reason I liked all the fun characters). At least it was a 100% honest documentary, right?
    (but yes, the dude needs to stop swearing; it doesnt really suit him - hey, maybe instead he should work on a more Woody Allen-like profile?.. just a suggestion)

  62. chard01

    ocean deep but crew so shallow outta soy milk what they need is arsenic

    1. Epicurus

      almost a close.

  63. Washichu Rehab

    Damn hipsters. I wanna watch a documentary, not watch them whinging about reality.

  64. Patrick Jones

    Amazing 3 weeks on a boat with food, company and fresh water how did you make it true mental fortitude. Damm environmental dorks...important message all the same.

  65. Laurence Vanhelsuwe

    There were too many wild, suspect numbers quoted by people who clearly don't know the difference between a million and a trillion. Maybe some hard (good) math could have improved the value of this docu's message. E.g. if calculations tell us that 5% of everything eaten in the ocean is plastic-derived, then we probably are heading for disaster, but if it's just 0.00001%, then it's all emotion driven by ignorance.

    1. dewflirt

      They might have gotten a little hysterical after a few weeks at sea but I don't think they were being over emotional, apart from the snotty kissing scene maybe. Didn't really need to see that while I was eating my ready meal ;)

    2. lakhotason

      I do like the way Kline8 tried to put it. " young people acting like idiots"? When you say young people the acting like idiots is understood.

    3. dewflirt

      It was the snot that put me off, dont like slimy things at all :/

    4. lakhotason

      Fish are slimy but not snotty although some can be snooty.

  66. dewflirt

    Well, that brightened up my evening :/ I guess when we run out of oil we can invent a way to filter plastic from the sea and make oil. Or maybe we could let the fish to do it for us ... If Captain Birdseye hasn't trawled them into extinction by then. At least fishfingers come in packaged in cardboard, what a bonus!

    1. lakhotason

      I didn't know fish had fingers.

    2. dewflirt

      Maybe not now, but soon and in an ocean near you! ;)

    3. lakhotason

      But they do call small fish fingerlings.

    4. dewflirt

      You're pulling my leg again lak! Naughty boy! :)

  67. Kline8

    Thomas was intolerable---his constant cussing, and use of the word 'like' along with his complete lack of any kind of insight can only make me wonder why he would be included in this project. His frequent smirking is unproffessional to say the least. This movie is important, but it could use some solid editing---I would reccomend eliminating clips of Thomas (most of them) and Meridith as well--(who doesn't seem to be adding anything either except her constant sycophantic giggle)… Jake at least seems to be doing some work. Don't let the important statement of this film be overshadowed by these young people acting like idiots.

  68. iamadingdong2

    Interesting and informative documentary, but the cussing was way overdone. Points they were emphasising could have been done without so much use of the "f" word.

    1. Far Spam

      those mofos think its cool to f*cking swearing so much cos they are so f*cking upset!
      what a bunch of a holes

  69. Far Spam

    boring environmentalist bullsh*t!
    I hate these self absorbed self riotous idiots.
    if they had the power to wipe humans out and just live on their own in a utopia garden of eden with talking animals they f*cking would!

    1. Dave McLeod

      So we should infer that the eco freaks aren't human. Maybe a quick look in the mirror is order to question thy own humanity is in order. But introspection is so gay.

    2. lakhotason

      Exactly. Why would we want to live in utopia when we can wallow in our own filth? Damn environmentalists just don't understand the value of filth.

    3. Yavanna

      the best part of you was left running down your father's leg.

    4. SilverBee

      You have revealed the depth of your ignorance.

  70. Rick Kiriakidis

    This documentary made me so depressed. Its not surprising though, we treat each other like garbage why should we treat the planet any differently? I want to crawl under a rock and not come out.