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Ocean Plastics SOS

The Plastic Problem: By the Numbers

Plastic bag floating in the ocean.


We produce 167 million tonnes of single-use plastics every year, and 8 million tonnes end up in the oceans.

Empty water bottles.

Nearly 1 000 000 plastic bottles are sold every minute worldwide. Fewer than half are recycled, and only 7% are turned into new bottles.

Spoon full of microplastics.

It is estimated that 5.25 trillion plastic particles are floating in the oceans, and 92% of these particles are microplastics, which are less than 5 millimetres in diameter.

Full laundry basket.


A single polyester sweater can release 1 000 000 tiny plastics fibres in one laundry cycle.

Marine plants.


Marine plants and corals produce 70% of the oxygen that we breathe.


Plastic pollution in fresh and marine waters is an urgent issue. Some animals eat plastic, get sick and may die. Microscopic plastics are now found in the tiny zooplankton at the base of the marine food web. Plastic is being found in drinking water and in the seafood that we eat.

Is this the world we want? Plastics in our food and water?

We can create a better future. Now is the time to curb our reliance on plastics and save the oceans and the diverse life they sustain—including us!

You Can Help!

Everyone can make a difference. Here are eight simple changes you can make to help save our planet.

Bag icoon.
Replace single-use plastics—such as bags, coffee cups and cling wrap—with reusable items. Avoid buying products wrapped in plastic.

Shirt icon.
Think before you buy clothes made of synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, because they create microplastic pollution.

Blue recycling-bin icon.
Recycle your plastics and compost your food waste.

Shoe icon.
Reduce your carbon footprint. For example, drive your car less and take the bus more. Ride your bike or walk whenever you can.

Thermometer in a house icon.
Lower the heat in your home and wear more sweaters in winter.

Wind-turbine icon.
Support renewable-energy initiatives such as solar and wind power.

Leaf icon.
Plant trees and support efforts against deforestation.

Share icon.
Share with others what you have learned here and in the museum’s Water Gallery about plastic ocean pollution and climate change. Help the movement to save our planet grow and flourish!


Here are resources to jumpstart your journey to make more simple changes to help save our planet.