The amount of plastic polluting our planet is a serious problem. In the past 30 years, the production of plastics has jumped by 620 percent, which adds up to about 300 million tons of plastic coming into circulation annually. Out of that, 85 percent is never recycled. Instead of being sent off to the recycling plant to begin life anew, those plastics are sent to landfills and from there, most ends up in our oceans — 8.8 million tons, to be exact. Obviously, our trash problem does more than litter our oceans, beaches, and land with garbage that should never have been there in the first place. It also has a very real effect on the animals we share this planet with. At the end of the day, trash in the ocean looks ugly to us, but it’s putting over 700 marine species at risk of extinction.

Take the baby manatee in the photo below as an example. A concerned citizen spotted him drifting in the Caloosahatchee River in Florida. Luckily, they contacted the authorities and the baby was taken under the custody of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and later transported to the David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Hospital so he could be treated.

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When this little guy arrived at the clinic, it was discovered that his stomach was full of debris and plastic bags. It’s common for baby manatees to mistakingly ingest plastic bags, fishing lines, and hooks, and other forms of trash while they search for food.

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Because he is so young, it is estimated that the manatee, named “Emoji,” could spend up to two years under the care of staff before being released back into the wild. Given that manatees are an endangered species, we’re glad that he has a place where he can recover and grow up strong. Without the quick thinking of the citizen who spotted him and contacted the right people, this little guy might not have been saved in time. If you ever spot a manatee in danger, please contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922.

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Enough is enough — it’s time for our reckless consumption of single-use plastics to stop. Considering that California just recently passed a ban on single-use plastic bags, maybe it’s time for other states to follow suit. To learn more about how you can kick plastic out of the picture, read 20 Switches to Get Plastic Out of Your Life. You can also start cutting plastic out of your life with the help of One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic Campaign. 

Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.

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Lead image source: WFLA

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