This Whale Died After Eating 80 Plastic Bags. Here's What You Can Do To Prevent This
Featured image courtesy of Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.
Despite the best efforts of a veterinary team, a small pilot whale found near southern Thailand died after swallowing more than 80 plastic shopping bags. Rescuers attempted to save the whale, but it was unable to recover.
An autopsy on the whale showed that it had consumed 80 plastic bags, weighing a total of 8 kilograms.
When a whale consumes plastic, like plastic shopping bags, it becomes unable to eat its normal diet and process nutritious food.
The fact that this whale was found near Thailand may not be a coincidence. In the city of Bangkok alone, it is estimated that 600,000 plastic bags are used every day! But this problem isn’t unique to Thailand; worldwide, as many as 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year.
People around the world took to social media to express dismay over the death of this pilot whale and the state of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. It’s a huge problem, but there are steps that we can each take to create a world free of plastic pollution.
Insist on a plastic bag ban
Plastic bag bans work. A study conducted by the city of San Jose, California in 2011 found that a plastic bag ban led to plastic litter reduction of “approximately 89 percent in the storm drain system, 60 percent in the creeks and rivers, and 59 percent in City streets and neighborhoods.” In 2002, Ireland implemented a plastic bag tax that reportedly led to a 95% reduction in plastic bag litter.
Around the world, more and more cities, counties, states, and provinces are passing plastic bag bans and seeing the clear benefits of doing so. If you live in an area where plastic bags have not yet been banned, consider organizing with like-minded neighbors voicing your opinion to local leaders.
Ask local shops to stop carrying them
While your local government may be slow to implement a plastic bag ban, the business world sometimes reacts much faster to environmental problems. If your local shops still use plastic bags, consider encouraging them to stop. Your opinion as a customer matters, and the more customers who request a policy change with regards to plastic bags, the more likely you are to see stores say no.
Bring your own reusable bag
Need a new reusable bag? The Haiti Bag is made of repurposed plastic pollution from Haiti.
A plastic bag ban in your area probably won’t happen overnight, but a change in personal habits can. Using a reusable shopping bag is a step toward eliminating the consumer demand for plastic bags. Reusable bags tend to be stronger, hold more items, and are more convenient to use too.
Avoid pre-packaged items
Plastic shopping bags aren’t the only type of plastic bags that make their way into the natural environment. Pre-packaged consumer goods are often wrapped in plastic bags. Look for items contained in glass or paper-based containers and avoid consumer goods that are over-wrapped. By making plastic-free choices, you are sending a clear message as a consumer to the manufacturers of goods.
Related: These Are 10 Common Household Items That You Probably Don’t Know Contain Plastic
Say no to other single-use plastics
The pilot whale that died over the weekend died from consuming plastic bags, but that doesn’t mean that plastic bags are the only kind of plastics that find their way into the seas. Single-use plastics like straws, drink bottles, and utensils aren’t always able to be recycled and sometimes end up polluting the oceans and imperiling marine life found there.
What do you do to keep the oceans healthy and plastic-free? Tweet at us about it using @tentree and #tentree!