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The Story of the Plastic Whale

In the wake of a dead whale that basically died starving because it mistook dozens of plastic bags for food, scientists are calling for a world movement to stop the littering of the oceans, according to This plastic-filled whale isn’t an anomaly; rather, it’s representative of what’s happening in all our oceans, and a harbinger of the total demise of marine environments, if we ignore the plastic whales.

It’s macabre, but true: The ocean may soon contain more plastic than fish. Staggering amounts of plastic waste, from water bottles and plastic bags to tiny microbeads and microfibers, are entering waterways worldwide. In 2015, researchers calculated that 275 million metric tons of plastic waste were generated in 192 coastal countries, with anywhere from 5 million to nearly 13 million metric tons of it entering the ocean.

Worse still, they estimated that unless waste management practices are improved, the amount of plastic entering oceans by 2025 may double. The only way to stop this is to begin with every human being making a choice not to purchase or use plastic products, and to make a definitive effort not to litter with the plastic that you do get. If you think this doesn’t apply to you, know that 80 percent of ocean plastic comes from land, and the U.S. is one of the top waste-generating countries.

Even the clothes we wear, with their synthetic microfibers, are polluting ocean food supplies. Synthetic microfibers make up 85 percent of shoreline debris worldwide, and have been found in both table salt and fish sold for human consumption. These fibers soak up toxins like a sponge, concentrating PCBs, pesticides and oil in ever higher amounts as you move up the food chain.

To help stop this, think about becoming a “minimalist” in the way you live. Buy less. Wear your clothes longer. Curb your consumption of food and other nonfood commodities. Choose reusable over single-use products. Bring your own mug for coffee. Avoid dispensable utensils. Opt for non-disposable razors, diapers and towels, and buy wooden toys over plastic. Avoid processed foods, which are usually packaged in plastics (and not good for you anyway). And always remember to recycle.
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