There are an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean.
The Plastic Disclosure Project, a project run by Hong Kong-based advocacy group Ocean Recovery Alliance, estimates that 33 percent of plastic manufactured worldwide is used once, then discarded.
Making matters worse, 85 percent of the world's plastic is not recycled when discarded.
Such a dire set of human behaviors means that, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.
In fact, plastic consumption is actually still increasing! Did you know, for example, 1 million water bottles are thrown out every minute? Every minute!
Today Albatross Designs is stoked to introduce a new campaign focused on making an important dent in the issue of ocean plastics. The initiative is at once incredibly simple and overwhelmingly ambitious. Importantly the initiative is as much about leading with our hearts as it is our minds. This is an initiative built around the idea of tangible actions that every citizen of the world can undertake.
Introducing the Trillion Pieces of Plastic Campaign. There are currently 7.2 Billion people in the world. If just 13.8% of these people committed to, in their lifetime, picking up from the ground 1,000 pieces of plastic litter and disposing of it properly, then we'd have effectively prevented one TRILLION! pieces of plastic from entering the ocean. Yes, that same water bottle cap you see on the sidewalk will likely be washed into streams or rivers and then into the ocean. Once in the ocean the task of plastic clean up becomes infinitely more difficult, if possible at all. Our goal in this campaign is defensive. Let's, together, discover a new meaning of personal responsibility and stop the plastic before it reaches the ocean.
A Trillion Pieces of Plastic encourages citizens to commit to picking up 1,000 pieces of plastic litter in their lifetime. But, if one were to pick up a piece of litter a day, they’d meet this goal in under 3 years. Some beaches are so littered with plastic that a motivated individual could easily pick up a 1,000 pieces of plastic in a single day. “It’s ultimately a very simple effort to participate in. You don't have to look far to find plastic litter. Walk down any city sidewalk or visit any beach you want, and you'll find plastic litter. It's unfortunately everywhere,” says Albatross Designs CEO Andrew LaCenere. “But we want to make it clear that our effort is built around the idea of consistent, long term small efforts. We don't want people to burn out or get [too] overwhelmed by trying to do too much at once. Breaking through that mental gap and actually bending down and picking up someone else's Snickers wrapper is a huge deal, both pragmatically and in my opinion morally.”
Let's pause and state the obvious. A Trillion Pieces of Plastic can be an important way to mitigate some threats that disposable plastics create, but it doesn't solve our plastic problem. That can only be solved by eliminating these disposable plastic waste streams. It really is that simple. We need to move away from disposable plastics. They are outdated and dangerous. Nevertheless, the reality is they will persist, at least for a while, and we ask the aware people of the world to do what they can to help us play a little defense to protect what we still have.
“We really think all types of people should get behind this,” says LaCenere. “We hope to get the idea that plastic doesn’t belong on the street or in the water front and center in people’s consciousness. Bending down to pick up a piece of litter literally takes less than a second, probably less than a half second even, and you really will feel good once you do it. But beyond that, we’re hypothesizing a link between clean up and individual’s choosing naturally to reduce consumption. We’re not saying that a NY stock broker should walk down Wall Street and try to pick up every piece of trash in the street. We are asking why they can’t pick up 1 piece though.”
How to Participate in A Trillion Pieces of Plastic
- Commit to participate by pledging to pick up 1,000 pieces of plastic litter in your lifetime here
- Spread the word and tell your friends by sharing the link to pledge. Facebook, E-mail, Instagram, etc. are great ways to reach a lot of people at once
- Take pictures of plastic you pick up and post to social media. Use the tags: #TrillionPiecesOfPlastic and #BillionX1000
- For the really motivated, who'd want to help host a formal beach cleanup or similar event to advance our goal, please message us at firstname.lastname@example.org with "A Trillion Pieces of Plastic" in the subject line and a brief explanation of what you have in mind
Through this campaign we aim to motivate the individual. But to speed up our goal of mitigating the plastic risk we have begun work with The Trident Project to explore ways in which we can create economic incentives to encourage plastic litter control in developing countries, where plastic pollution is often severe due to a lack of waste management services. Stay tuned for more!