If you love the ocean, enjoy the time you have left with it now. By the year 2050 our world’s oceans are expected to have more plastic than fish. Right now, over 8 million tons of plastic debris finds its way into the sea each year, and that number is steadily on the rise.

Humans are using more plastic than ever, and most of it is only used once before being tossed in the trash. Apparently, we didn’t learn our lesson from the crying Native American dude in the ’70s, because only about 5 percent of the plastic we use ends up actually getting recycled.

That poor guy is still crying somewhere …

What doesn’t get recycled ends up in landfills and a lot of the time … the ocean. These little bits of plastic wreak havoc on wildlife and are threatening the world’s ecosystems. Animals are not smart, they eat much of the smaller plastic debris because they don’t know any better. Birds and sea creatures can also get entangled in the bigger stuff like your Publix bags or six-pack rings that you’ve thoughtlessly chucked in the trash (didn’t your mother teach you better?).

Imagine catching a nice fresh fish for dinner and when you get it home and cut it open find that it’s full of plastic. This is the reality we live in now.

Some of the greatest scientific minds are working on a solution, but most of the damage that has already been done is probably irreversible. There are ways to lessen the future impact of our lifestyle on the world around us, but everyone needs to do their part.

Garbage

The folks at the World Economic Forum have proposed some changes to what they call “The New Plastic Economy” in order to increase the efficiency of recycling programs and make sure the plastics we use are being continuously re-used. The plan aims to reduce production of new plastic materials, as well as the overall use of plastics in order to minimize the environmental impact. It’s a lofty goal that could take years to implement, but one that’s necessary.

For now, do whatever you can to reduce your own use of plastic. Bring reusable cloth bags to the grocery store, get a big refillable water bottle and carry it around with you, wrap your leftovers in aluminum foil instead of cling wrap. When you get a six-pack of beer, cut the plastic rings up or tear them before recycling to reduce the chances of an animal getting stuck in it. The planet won’t heal overnight, but with a sincere effort from everyone, we can at least try to slow down the inevitable.