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Francesca Koe’s Blog

Oceans of Garbage - Why People Are Eating Their Own Trash

Francesca Koe

Posted July 17, 2012

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You've heard  the saying before "you are what you eat." Whether you've heard it from your mom, or your doctor or a yoga-practicing friend the saying actually originates from a french philosopher in the 1800's who didn't intend for it to be taken quite so literally. Then in 1942, nutritionist Victor Lindlahr published a book called "You Are What You Eat: How to Win and Keep Health with Diet." And several years before he published his book Lindlahr would tout the phrase on a radio show that he hosted in the late 30's. These seem to be the earliest vehicles that drove the phrase into our public consciousness here America. Fast forward many decades and the literal meaning has manifested itself in a very unappetizing way: people are eating their own trash.

Why are people eating their own trash? Well this infographic from the creative students over at Masters illustrates how pervasive the problem is and how we've quickly cooked up a recipe for disaster.

Ocean of Garbage
Created by:

Knowing that fish supply the greatest percentage of the world's protein consumed by humans it is imperative that we recognize the need to keep our oceans healthy and the marine food web clean. So you may be asking yourself "what can I do?" The good news is we can all do a little something and when we do it together we create a sea of change. Here are five easy things everyone can do to take action and bring us closer to trash-free seas.

Tap it! Drink tap water from a reusable bottle.
Can it! Use a trash can with a lid.
Demand it! Write your legislators asking for ocean policies that address ocean trash
Reuse it! Take a canvas, reusable shopping bag for groceries, picnics and more.
Remove it! Organize a clean-up of your local rivers, streams and beaches.

The most effective way to stop this morass of plastic pollution in our oceans is to make sure it never even reaches the water in the first place. By being mindful of simple choices we can ALL (individuals, companies, and governments) make a big difference.

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jim olarteJul 18 2012 12:37 PM

..Thank you for your continued efforts to make People more AWARE...Aloha

Hawkeye ParkerJul 18 2012 07:50 PM

Nice one Francesca!

Anita KellyJul 18 2012 10:19 PM

Great stuff guys - am working an area on the SW coast of WA (Bunbury) - lots of clean ups targeted for maximum harvesting of debris that washes onto shorelines, groynes etc plus educational work with community, authorities, schools etc so this will be a wonderful aid ! Had an article in the local paper this week and a request for a TV item at next clean up. I send my data to Tangaroa Ocean Care Foundation. Also trying to educate people that there is a gyre in every ocean ! - affecting all ocean life - I have many items of plastic with bite marks of all sizes I show people - also that plankton have been photographed with microplastics inside them .... the beginning of the food chain. The problem is not just in the Nth Pacific - it is right here in our own frontyards. Please send me anything else you are willing to share

Valerie ButuzaJul 19 2012 07:09 AM

Very well written and nicely illustrated Francesca but in my opinion, it is even more important and urgent TO REDUCE OUR SEAFOOD CONSUMPTION and find radical issues to stop the over and illegal fishing around the world.

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