What Item of Trash is the Most Abundant in the Ocean?

What’s the number one piece of garbage that washes up on our shores and floats alongside (and is sometimes ingested by) fish in the sea? Cigarettes! Are you picturing a sad dolphin with a cigarette dangling out of its mouth? Sad.

Ocean Conservancy just released data from their annual International Coastal Cleanup. Nearly 600,000 volunteers covering 20,000 miles picked up and recorded 9 million pounds of trash they found along the shores.

Volunteers collected nearly 2 million cigarettes and 1.2 million caps and lids. Other debris they found included plastic bottles, plastic bags, and straws. Check out Ocean Conservancy’s infograph below to see the top ten items of garbage that were picked up.

While these numbers are not very uplifting, the good news is this is a problem that is not entirely hopeless. The easiest thing to do would be to not dump your garbage in or near the ocean. Duh. The other way to prevent trash from ending up on our beaches is to avoid using single-use plastic items – like bags, straws, and cutlery and to encourage others to do the same.

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