It can be tempting to leave your trash behind when you go to the beach. (I’ve never personally felt this temptation, but based on the number of cigarette butts I saw in the sand the last time I was seaside, it seems many people don’t mind.)
But did you know that plastic is actually ruining our oceans? Let’s start with how much plastic is out there. We use 8 percent of our oil reserves to create plastic, and the U.S. produced more plastic in 10 years than we did in all of the 20th century.
Every year, a staggering 6.4 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean. There’s at least 269,000 tons floating on the surface of the ocean and nearly 4 billion plastic microfibers in the deep sea. The arctic ocean is actually choking on billions of plastic bits.
Thirty-one mammal species have ingested plastic, and roughly a million birds die every year from plastic consumption or entanglement.
The problem is actually so bad that the North Pacific Ocean is known as the Pacific trash vortex. 80% of trash comes from land, while the other 20% comes from boaters, cargo ships and offshore oil rigs.
Because the vortex doesn’t technically belong to any country, no one is taking responsibility for cleaning it up. But there are small steps you can take to make this problem better. Learn about the global impact of recycling here.