By: Dianna Parker
One rubber chicken, 117 mattresses, 4,159 candles, and 689,274 utensils. What do all of these things have in common?
They’re all marine debris collected last September at the Ocean Conservancy’s 2012 International Coastal Cleanup®, sponsored in part by the NOAA Marine Debris Program.
The numbers are in: more than 550,000 volunteers came together to collect 10 million pounds of marine debris. In the United States, volunteers found enough bottles that, when stacked end to end, equal the height of 1,000 Empire State Buildings. That’s a lot of trash on our beaches and in our waterways!
This litter is threatening our marine environment, economy, and health, and the problem will only get worse unless we change the way we consume and dispose of products. There are solutions, and we can prevent litter from ending up in the ocean.
So here’s a challenge: the next time you use a throw-away item: a bag, bottle, or utensil, answer the question, “Where it’s going?” How will you keep your items from becoming litter in our oceans, rivers, and streams?
Head to Ocean Conservancy’s data release page for some neat infographics on last year’s trash haul. Here are the top 10 types volunteers found this year: