This single photo of a hermit crab illustrates the sad reality of plastic pollution..
This happened recently when Kerstin Langenberger Photography released a picture of an emaciated polar bear, which stunned many of its viewers into silence and made them realize just how vital it is to continue speaking up on behalf of our planet. We were also reminded of photography’s ability to cut right to heart of complex issues when a shocking image comparing the size of SeaWorld San Diego’s parking lot and orca tank began to circulate through social media last month. And now, an equally powerful image has come to our attention again.
In this picture, uploaded by Reddit user HSmidt, we see the reality of what plastic pollution does to wild animals.
The hermit crab pictured has resorted to using a toothpaste cap as a shell. In one sense, this can be regarded as a sign of the crab’s ingenuity, as he or she seeks to make the best of a dire situation … but the fact that the tiny animal’s chosen home is a piece of human-produced plastic – the very substance that is killing so many marine and land animals all over the globe, and leading to a terrifying build-up of waste that may take up to 1,000 years to decompose – cannot help but strike sadness into a Green Monster’s heart.
The facts behind plastic pollution are shocking to behold. In the last ten years, we have produced more of this material than was made in the entire previous century. Shoppers worldwide use around 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year – meaning that these bags are used just once before being discarded. Much of this waste is destined to end up in the ocean, where it now threatens 700 marine species with extinction.
The scariest fact of all? 270,000 tons of plastic are currently estimated to be floating in our oceans: the equivalent of 135,000 cars, 130,000 mid-sized boats, or 1,125 freight trains. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean is growing by the year, with truly frightening implications for marine and human life.
While all these statistics are shocking, it is important to remember the role that each one can play to reduce the excess of plastic every single day. We, after all, have a choice to use disposable plastics on a daily basis or to opt for a reusable, sustainable alternative. For more information on how you can reduce your dependency on plastic, and help save animals like the hermit crab.