We have become addicted to plastic. It is convenient, cheap, light, plentiful and it is poisoning our air, land and water. Our plastic addiction is so out of control that now we produce new plastics equal to the weight of all humankind each year — 300 million tons. You can help end this toxic tidal wave of plastic by understanding the urgency of the problem, changing habits, and joining with other activists to stop the crisis before it continues to get out of control.

Plastic Pollution Explained

The United Nations’ initiative Play It Out details the scope of the crisis and offers global solutions for individuals, governments and corporations.

National Geographic explains the world’s plastic pollution crisis.  

Plastic is made to last nearly forever. But do you understand why it is not biodegradable? Sustainability-focused website, Thinkin Greener, explains the science of this forever material.

Balloons? Plastic Bottles? Learn what common plastics items are the mostly deadly to sea turtles, birds and mammals according to the Ocean Conservancy and the Australian Government’s scientific research agency.

Let’s see where that plastic bottle you discarded today will be in 20 years! The Ocean Cleanup has a Plastic Tracker map. Enter your location and it will show you the bottle’s probable fate. 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not all bottles and straws—the patch is mostly abandoned fishing gear, National Geographic explains

Individual Action

Want to stop plastic polluting the oceans? Stop eating fish. Fishing nets are clogging up oceans and the insides of marine life. 

Learn how you can get involved on America Recycles Day and take the plastic pollution quiz as we all continue working towards a zero-waste goal.

Does cutting out plastic from your life seem almost impossible? Treehugger suggests 11 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Waste Today.

NPR’s interactive site explores what should and should not go in your recycling bin and looks at the recyclability of items you might pick up at the grocery store.

If you live in North America, learn what’s exactly recyclable in your area through the extensive How2recycle database. 

Stay informed on the latest news with Plastic Pollution Coalition by signing up to their informative Twitter account @PlasticPollutes. 

Instead of Google, use the Ocean Hero browser. So far, they’ve helped communities around the world remove 19,526,856 bottles from the ocean…and counting.

Do your part and learn how to recycle better. For example, did you know that items smaller than a credit card actually are really difficult to recycle and often aren’t recycled?

Community Action

Join the Earth Day movement. Since 1970, it has worked around the world to develop local solutions to climate change, plastic pollution, threats to biodiversity and more. 

Take the plastic pollution quiz and test how much you understand the crisis. 

Participate in the Great Global Cleanup efforts and sign up near you on their map or register your own cleanup anywhere in the world.

Join other individuals, cities, corporations, nonprofits and schools in 165 countries who are picking up litter and logging their findings on Litterati

Be part of the Precious Plastic Universe – a global community of over 80,000 people collaborating to find solutions to plastic pollution. 

Learn how to create your own recycling studio and even a recycling business with Precious Plastic workspaces.

No matter where you are on Earth, you can Volunteer with Plastic Oceans to help reduce plastic pollution.

Youth Action

Teens Turning Green activates young people around plastic pollution solutions with their Project Green Challenge.

Become a Scout with Earth Tribe, and join the next generation of global activists supported but the United Nations. 

Take the Tide Turner Plastic Challenge and learn how to build healthier and more resilient oceans, lakes and lands by understanding how pollution affects every corner of the world.

If you are in the United States, help your school consume less plastic and reduce costs with Recycle Across America.

Become a citizen scientist anywhere and help create Ocean Cleanup’s global plastic pollution map. Download the survey app and share details of plastic pollution wherever you live. 

For younger children, checkout their National Geographic Kids portal, The Problem with Plastic Pollution.

Plastic Alternatives

It’s easier than ever to find alternatives to plastic. Here are some ideas: 

Everyday Items: 

Ditch single-use and reuse, reuse, reuse. Sustainable products company, Eartheasy, describes the best, long-lasting alternatives to everyday plastic items.


From beeswax to bamboo and silicone to stainless steel, Real Simple Magazine has 24 Smart Products to Help You Go Plastic-Free in the Kitchen.

It’s easy to make your own plastic wrap alternative. Learn how with Good Housekeeping magazine’s How to Make DIY Beeswax Food Wraps for a Plastic-Free Kitchen.


Plastic dominates most personal care items from shampoo bottles to toothpaste tubes. Earth911, explains Sustainable Personal Care Products for an Earth-Friendly Bathroom.

Bamboo Electric Toothbrush 


Leading sustainability-focused site, Treehugger, shows you how to Ditch the Laundry Jugs and Go Plastic-Free and even how to make your own detergent.

Grocery Shopping:

Sustainable lifestyle site, One Green Planet, shows how to avoid plastic packaging in their Simple Guide to Waste-Free Grocery Shopping.


Whether you’re taking home leftovers from your restaurant meal or getting your favorite food as takeout, Ethical Foods has reusable, eco-friendly suggestions to plastic take-out.

Future Alternatives:

Have your packaging and eat it too? Many companies are working on fully compostable and sometimes edible packaging. Eartheasy details the new, natural wrappers.

Truth on Some Alternatives:

Just because it says it’s a plastic alternative doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better for the environment. Understand The False Promise of Bioplastics and Compostable Plastics.

Hopeful News

McDonald’s Pledges to Make Happy Meal Toys More Sustainable, CNBC reports. 

The Future Of Takeout Is Plastic-Free, Forbes Magazine reports.

The Hollywood Reporter reports how the nonprofit, Habits of Waste, has recruited a handful of directors to join its effort to replace throw-away plastics with reusables in TV and film.

Forbes considers the investment opportunities for circular plastic technologies in their article, Solutions To The Plastic Pollution Crisis Will Drive The Next Wave Of Climate-Tech Innovation.

The World Wildlife Fund Launches Activation Hub to Help Prevent 10 Million Metric Tons of Global Plastic Waste. 

Global Coalition Calls on Amazon to Shift to Plastic-Free, Reusable Packaging. Plastic Pollution Coalition reports on the 120+ organizations that sent a letter urging Amazon to change.

Did you know your sneakers are mostly made of plastic? See how athletic shoe manufacturer Adidas is making recycled ocean plastic into the sneakers of tomorrow

Plastic packaging leaches chemicals into the food we eat. Check out these new eco-friendly and biodegradable alternatives to plastic products.

Progress is rapidly being made to find plastic alternatives such as bagasse that is made from one of the world’s most used commodity – discarded fibers of sugar cane or sorghum.

UNICEF breaks ground on Africa’s first-of-its-kind recycled plastic brick factory in Côte d’Ivoire. The factory will produce bricks from plastic waste to build classrooms for children.

Alarming News

Plastic pollution on course to double by 2030, the United Nations News reports.

Fast Company reports on a new study that finds There are thousands more toxic chemicals in plastic than we thought.

Groundbreaking online media publication, Salon, details Harrowing report on plastic pollution says we have 29 years to save the ocean.  

20 Companies Produce More Than 50% of the World’s Single-Use Plastic Waste, Treehugger reports.

Takeaway food and drink litter dominates ocean plastic, study shows, the Guardian reports. New research shows that just 10 plastic products make up 75% of all plastics in the world’s oceans.

Educational Resources

The Plastic Pollution Coalition, a global alliance working toward a world free of plastic pollution, has put together these resources for teachers, community leaders, students, and parents.

Empower your students and your community to end plastic pollution with Plastic Oceans’, Rethink.Refill. campaign that aims to prevent over 10 million plastic pollution.


Youth activist Hannah Testa, the founder of Hannah4Change, chronicles both her personal and political mission to save the Earth’s oceans by limiting single-use plastic products.

“Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans”  inspires readers and was written Great Pacific Garbage Patch’s scientific discoverer. 

“Plastic Soup: An Atlas of Ocean Pollution” is a beautifully illustrated survey of the plastics clogging our seas, and their impacts on wildlife and people around the world.

“How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time” is a straightforward guide to eliminating plastic from your life. 

“Simply Sustainable: Moving Toward Plastic-Free, Low-Waste Living” by author Lily Cameron shows you how to break your plastic habit with simple, actionable steps.

Who Cares Wins: Reasons for Optimism in a Changing World” by Lily Cole shows how every one of us has the power to help create a better world.

Children’s Books

“The Adventures of Myrtle the Turtle” is a picture book for ages 3-5 where Myrtle the Turtle discovers the harm plastic pollution causes to sea life and the importance of recycling.

“Saving Tally: An Adventure into the Great Pacific Plastic Patch” is a book for ages 3-12 where Tally, a turtle, and her friend Ara, a lobster, realize the dangers of living in an plastic-filled ocean.

“Harry Saves The Ocean!: Teaching children about plastic pollution and recycling” is a picture book for ages 1-6 that teaches kids about the problem with plastic pollution and how to help


“The Story of Plastic” exposes the sources of our plastic crisis – first world countries and the petrochemical companies. Its website also provides educational materials for schools. 

“Plastic China” is a documentary story of poverty, ambition and hope as director Jiu-ling Wang portrays life in one Chinese town entirely dedicated to recycling of First World plastic waste. 

“Earth’s Ekko” is a fun film and interactive website for kids and stars cartoon character Ekko, a sea creature who has lived in the ocean for millions of years. 


“A Plastic Ocean” is an epic global adventure following a filmmaker and a world record free diver as they travel the earth discovering the shocking impact plastic is having on our oceans.

“Not Disposable” A three-part series of short episodes featuring communities and leaders from around the world fighting to stop plastic pollution. The series is part of Material Change – a channel on the Only.One Platform dedicated to rethinking plastic and stopping it at its source.


Ocean Conservancy has developed an incredible podcast recommendation list: 11 Ocean Podcasts to Transport You Underneath the Waves

In “Plastisphere: A podcast on plastic pollution in the environment”, follow international environment science journalist Anja Krieger on a journey into the world of synthetic polymers.

Zero Waste Lifestyle activist, Laura Nash, interviews a Tasmanian marine researcher about how ocean animals eat plastic and the impact on human diets in “Plastic and Marine Life.”

The Cool Facts About Animals Podcast’s episode How Kids Can Stop Plastic Pollution discusses how much plastic is in the ocean, why that’s a problem for animals, what you can do, and more! 

“The Indisposable Podcast” celebrates solutions to plastic pollution and features eco activists, and is produced by Upstream, a public-interest, NGO working towards a zero-waste world.



Video Credits:
The Graduate (1967)
Director: Mike Nichols
Produced By: Lawrence Turman
Lawrence Turman, Inc.
Distribution: Embassy Pictures

A Plastic Ocean Official Trailer (2016)
Director: Craig Leeson
Plastic Oceans Foundation

How We Can Keep Plastics Out of Our Ocean (2016)
National Geographic


Mighty Machines – At the Garbage Dump (1994)
Mighty Machines Productions
NCircle Entertainment
Alliance Entertainment

Midway, a plastic island (2016)
Turner Broadcasting Systems

Ocean cleanup: Dutch group to rid Great Pacific Garbage Patch of trash (2017)
The Seabin Project

Garbage Waves’: Trash covers water at beach in Dominican Republic (2018)
Nexstar Inc.

Plastic Ocean (2017)
Plastic Oceans Foundation


Song: The Sound of Silence (1964)
Performed By: Simon & Garfunkel
Writer: Paul Simon
Columbia Records
Sony Music Entertainment

Image Credits: NASA – James Webb Telescope

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So far, in the battle between Plastics and Mankind, plastics are winning. Plastics have managed to impact so many ecosystems around the world and its negative impacts are continuing to rapid scale. Let’s put an end to our addiction to plastics once and for all.

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