Fighting for Trash Free Seas®

Ending the flow of trash at the source

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Fighting for Trash Free Seas®

Have you ever walked along a beautiful beach and been surprised to find a piece of plastic at your feet? You might be even more surprised to learn that together with volunteers like you, we’ve picked up more than 220 million pounds of trash in the last 30 years. And the problem goes deeper than what you’re seeing on the beaches. Scientists estimate that more than 8 million metric tons of plastic is entering our ocean every year. If we don’t act now, there could be a pound of plastic for every 3 pounds of fish in the ocean within the next decade. Ocean Conservancy has been at the forefront of the trash free seas challenge for more than 30 years. Trash in the ocean has serious consequences for all of us, but there is hope. With your help, we can solve the ocean plastic crisis together.

228,919,809

pounds of trash collected since 1985

12,160,724

volunteers since 1985

At our International Coastal Cleanups, volunteers have picked up more than half a million straws and stirrers, making straws one of the top ten items on our annual list. Straws pose a real danger to animals like sea turtles, albatross and fish who can eat them. Take action today: SKIP the STRAW!

Add your voice to the sea of people taking a stand for the ocean. Sign the pledge now and when offered a straw, simply say ‘no thanks.’

Take Action

The Problem

Ocean trash affects the health of wildlife, people and local economies

Ocean trash affects the health of wildlife, people and local economies. Trash in the water and on the shore can be mistaken as food by wildlife, or entangle animals with lethal consequences. Plastic also attracts and concentrates other pollutants from surrounding seawater, posing a contamination risk to those species that then eat it. Scientists are studying the impacts of that contamination on fish and shellfish and as well as the possible impact it may have on human health as well.

Nick Mallos

“Plastics now pollute all dimensions of our oceans from the sea surface to the seafloor, on remote beaches and in Arctic sea ice. The impact ocean plastics have on marine species is well documented, but increasingly scientists are concerned about the potential threat of plastics to species at the top of the marine food chain: humans.”

Nicholas Mallos
Director, Trash Free Seas®, Ocean Conservancy

From plankton to whales, animals across ocean ecosystems have been contaminated by plastic. Plastic has been found in 59% of sea birds like albatross and pelicans, in 100% of sea turtle species, and more than 25% of fish sampled from seafood markets around the world.

Judie Hansen

“Whether we work alone on a deserted beach or with a small group of our friends, we have the knowledge that we are part of a larger congregation. Our statistics join those of others in far off places we may never get to visit.”

Judie Hansen
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, organizer of Oregon’s first statewide coastal cleanup in 1984. Excerpt from Hansen’s Preface in Cleaning America’s Beaches: 1988 National Beach Cleanup Results

Marine debris isn’t an ocean problem—it’s a people problem. That means people are the solution. Ocean Conservancy is committed to keeping our beaches and ocean trash free. For more than 30 years we have organized the International Coastal Cleanup, where nearly 12 million volunteers from 153 countries have worked together to collect more than 220 million pounds of trash. And we’re not the only ones who care about ocean trash: Every day, all over the world, concerned people take the problem into their own hands by cleaning up their local waterways.

Tackling the problem of plastic in the ocean begins on land. Reduction in plastics use, especially of single-use disposable products, and the collection and recycling of plastics in developing countries can help to reduce the amount of plastic waste that enters the ocean.

The Solution

Ocean Conservancy has been bringing together passionate ocean lovers and helping them contribute to a vision for trash free seas®.

There’s Hope!

Ocean Conservancy is leading the way with practical solutions

“It’s about people – people all over the world who care about the health of our planet and who put that care into action. It’s about cooperation and coalition, sometimes between the unlikeliest of groups who, setting aside their differing viewpoints, work together for a larger common goal.”

1993 International Coastal Cleanup Results

Ocean Conservancy is taking bold action, working to stop the flow of trash at the source, before it has a chance to reach the water to choke and entangle dolphins or endanger sea turtles, or ruin our beaches and depress our local economies.

Ocean Conservancy is leading the way with practical solutions that:

  • Empower people. We lead a movement of people taking concrete actions every day to protect our ocean. We’re bringing useful tips to people on every street corner, creek bed and coastal waterway to empower them to stop the flow of trash before it hits our shores.
  • Strengthen the science. Ocean Conservancy is leading scientific work with business and academic partners to improve our knowledge of the ocean trash issue.
  • Engage everyone in solutions. We can’t do this alone, so we’re bringing together leaders from industry, government, NGO partners and the scientific community through the Trash Free Seas Alliance® to bring systemic, durable solutions to the ocean trash issue.
  • Promote good policies. Ocean Conservancy built support for the Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act and its companion bill in the Senate, the Trash Free Seas Act, to strengthen a national focus on marine debris.

At our International Coastal Cleanups, volunteers have picked up more than half a million straws and stirrers, making straws one of the top ten items on our annual list. Straws pose a real danger to animals like sea turtles, albatross and fish who can eat them. Take action today: SKIP the STRAW!

Add your voice to the sea of people taking a stand for the ocean. Sign the pledge now and when offered a straw, simply say ‘no thanks.’

Take Action

Preventing 8 million tons of plastics from entering the ocean every year is a BIG job! Want to help? Donate now to help bring trash free seas solutions to life. And, please consider making a monthly donation to support our ongoing work to keep our beaches and ocean trash free. We can’t keep millions of pounds of trash from our ocean without your commitment.

Donate Today

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