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Alarming photos of the uninhabited island that's home to 37 million pieces of trash

Lavers said it's impossible to wipe Henderson clean. She hopes people are more mindful about their plastics use and disposal to keep more islands from the same fate.

Lavers said it's impossible to wipe Henderson clean. She hopes people are more mindful about their plastics use and disposal to keep more islands from the same fate.

"If we've learned anything from international strategies [on climate change], it's that global environmental agreements take a long time to negotiate and even longer to implement," Lavers said. "In the meantime, we as individuals can do a lot — and we need to. Fast."

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Three and a half months later, Lavers' team counted 53,000 pieces of human-made debris. By their calculations, Henderson's 14 square miles contains more than 37 million pieces of trash.

Three and a half months later, Lavers' team counted 53,000 pieces of human-made debris. By their calculations, Henderson's 14 square miles contains more than 37 million pieces of trash.

According to The Atlantic, Henderson might have the highest density of plastic debris reported anywhere in the world. Lavers estimates at least 3,750 new pieces of litter wash up daily.

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They counted, weighed, and sorted the debris by type, color, and country of origin, in rare cases where this was possible. Most items were too small and broken to be examined.

They counted, weighed, and sorted the debris by type, color, and country of origin, in rare cases where this was possible. Most items were too small and broken to be examined.
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The team selected five sites to sample debris from. They used measuring tapes to mark the perimeters of every site and mesh disks to sift through the sand at each location.

The team selected five sites to sample debris from. They used measuring tapes to mark the perimeters of every site and mesh disks to sift through the sand at each location.
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In an interview with The Atlantic, Lavers described storms that sent coconuts and trees whirling onto their tents. Sharp rocks sliced open their shoes, which they bound with rope.

In an interview with The Atlantic, Lavers described storms that sent coconuts and trees whirling onto their tents. Sharp rocks sliced open their shoes, which they bound with rope.

Source: The Atlantic

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She also learned that "one clearly should not [bring] coconut milk when coming to a tropical island," she said. While they had food to last, the conditions of island life were unpleasant.

She also learned that "one clearly should not [bring] coconut milk when coming to a tropical island," she said. While they had food to last, the conditions of island life were unpleasant.
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"A few months into the 3.5-month expedition, our team of seven realized we had all really had just about enough of tinned chicken," Lavers said. They had two barrels left over.

"A few months into the 3.5-month expedition, our team of seven realized we had all really had just about enough of tinned chicken," Lavers said. They had two barrels left over.
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They brought canned foods like corn and beans for sustenance.

They brought canned foods like corn and beans for sustenance.
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Because there is no freshwater on Henderson, Lavers and her team spent two days ferrying water from the freight ship to the island. "I hurt in places I didn't even know existed," Lavers said.

Because there is no freshwater on Henderson, Lavers and her team spent two days ferrying water from the freight ship to the island. "I hurt in places I didn't even know existed," Lavers said.

They also set up tents in the forest and tarps to collect rainwater.

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The trash situation was far worse than she expected. Debris blanketed the beaches.

The trash situation was far worse than she expected. Debris blanketed the beaches.

According to Lavers, major currents carry bits of plastic across oceans. When a shoreline interrupts a current's path, the junk settles there. These materials are made brittle by radiation from the sun and easily break when they crash against hard objects like sand and rocks.

Lavers and her expedition team set out to count all the trash on the island.

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When she arrived, it felt "a bit like being the first to land on the moon," Lavers told Business Insider. It became immediately clear that something on Henderson was awry.

When she arrived, it felt "a bit like being the first to land on the moon," Lavers told Business Insider. It became immediately clear that something on Henderson was awry.
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Few humans have set foot on the island, which lies halfway between New Zealand and South America, 71 miles away from the nearest settlement. To get there, Lavers joined a freight ship traveling from New Zealand and asked it to change course for Henderson.

Few humans have set foot on the island, which lies halfway between New Zealand and South America, 71 miles away from the nearest settlement. To get there, Lavers joined a freight ship traveling from New Zealand and asked it to change course for Henderson.
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Jennifer Lavers first saw Henderson Island in Google Street View. She's been documenting islands-turned-junkyards for years. Henderson was the epitome of the phenomenon.

Jennifer Lavers first saw Henderson Island in Google Street View. She's been documenting islands-turned-junkyards for years. Henderson was the epitome of the phenomenon.
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