Today, more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic, with a combined mass of more than 250,000 tons, are floating in our oceans.
Despite plastic production increasing twentyfold across the last half century, just 5% of plastics are recycled effectively, while 40% end up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems such as the world’s oceans.
Every year at least 8m tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean — which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. This is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050.
These photos demonstrate just how globally pervasive and horrifying the problem really is.
Volunteers try to clear a dam which is filled with discarded plastic bottles and other garbage, near the town of Krichim, Bulgaria:
A diver grimaces as he prepares to jump into the sea covered with plastic rubbish near Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras:
A beachful of tiny plastic pellets, known as ‘nurdles’, is found at Tregantle Cove in Newquay, UK:
A crab uses a piece of plastic debris for shelter on Henderson Island in the Pitcairns:
A father and son on a makeshift boat paddle through garbage as they collect plastic bottles that they can sell in junkshops in Manila:
Marine debris in Hawaii as seen from below…
…and as if in homage to the above, artist @messymsxi collected over 20,000 pieces of plastic for this amazing installation called ‘Plastic Ocean’ in the Singapore Art Museum:
A scavenger collects plastic cups for recycling in a waterway covered with rubbish near Pluit dam in Jakarta:
Surfer Dede Surinaya surfs a remote yet garbage-covered bay in Java:
“The amount of plastic-to-sand ratio at Kamilo Beach (Hawaii) is shocking, even to me,” says artist Sophie Thomas. “In my half hour walk along the coastline I picked up 18 toothbrushes alone.”
If we do nothing, the ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans.
If you’d like to be part of the solution, one super-easy way is to move away from using a plastic toothbrush.
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