When we start to look for it, we quickly find there is a literal sea of distressing environmental news flooding our phones and computers every day. Seeing this deluge of negativity, it’s easy to start to lose faith. But the winners of the Bow Seat’s 2016 Ocean Awareness Contest reminds us that we have the power and the creativity to change the course of our oceans’ fate. Bow Seat is an organization dedicated to, “inspire[ing] the next generation of ocean caretakers through education and engagement with the arts, science, and advocacy.” As a part of this mission, Bow Seat hosts The Ocean Awareness Contest. Every year, they ask middle schoolers and high schoolers across the world to submit a piece of artwork addressing ocean pollution and the challenges we face going forward. They say a picture is worth 1000 words, and these images speak volumes. Here are a few of some of the compelling pieces centered around ocean plastics from the 2016 winners.

This piece is titled, “Message in a Bottle” by Jessica Yang. It shows how the 40 billion plastic bottles we put in landfills every year make their way into our oceans and affect marine life.

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Hannah Sarakinsky worries about the same thing in here painting, “Is This the Ocean You Want?” Only 15 percent of the plastic we use is recycled – most of it makes its way into our oceans.

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“What the Duck” by Jessica Xia, echoes the sentiment of the 700 species that are endangered due to plastic waste.

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“Your Choice. Their Future.” by Anais Beninger, illustrates how the 100 billion plastic bags that are put into the ocean, every year, trap and entangle its inhabitants

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Complementing this theme, “Pacific Currents” by Marion Hopkinson points out that 12 million tons of plastic containers are discarded every year.

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“Plastic Chokes Me” by Erica Lim, speaks for itself. 

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“Be Aware of Trash Shark,” cautions Nicole Zhu. But it seems instead of avoiding this threat, we are feeding it. Scientists estimate will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

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Humans are also affected by the toxins we put into our water as Taein Gu reminds us in her piece, “Inheritance: A Mistake We Must Fix.” 

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“The Blue Endless Loop” by Theresa Ho warns us that this cycle of pollution and death needs to stop.

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There are around 270,000 tons of plastic floating on the ocean’s surface alone. A fact that is made apparent in “Two Sides to A Wave” by Jane Anderson-Schmitt.

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We have a responsibility to future generations to maintain our most precious resource. These children clearly see the danger plastic poses to our oceans and marine life –  we owe it to both these young ones and animals to stop our reckless behavior and prevent plastic pollution. Join One Green planets #CrushPlastic movement to learn about easy ways that you can help to save our planet’s oceans and the animals that live in them.

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

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Image source: Bow Seat