Somewhere in the range 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastic went into the ocean in 2010, according to this study. The international study calculated that a total of 275 million tonnes of plastic waste was produced by a 192 nations, and noted that population size and quality of waste management systems largely determine which countries contribute the most to the problem.
I found this creative and confronting statue in Helsingør, Denmark in the summer of 2017. It is made from trash that has made its way into the oceans. It is all kinds of things, because really so many of the things we use now are made from plastic. “No-one in their daily life within a period of 10 minutes isn’t touching something that is made of plastic” according to Professor Andrew Holmes quoted in this article by the ABC.
I have tried to cut down on the amount of plastic in my life, especially single use plastics. Coffee cups, plastic bags, plastic utensils, straws and so on. It requires organisation, and I fail several times a week still. But I am getting better, and I am very aware of my usage. If I do need to use a single use something, I try to find a place that has limited packaging and/or environmentally friendly options.
Many of the items that make up the fish statue in the picture are not single use items though. It is toys and storage boxes and who knows what else! To avoid such things ending up in the oceans, we need to dispose of them properly. Of course, many plastics are not recyclable. They go to landfill or are burned, but at least then they are not in the oceans.
Try it: We need to be very considerate when we buy these things in this first place, and ask ourselves: Do we really need it? The less unnecessary things come into existence, the better.