8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean each year, injuring and killing marine animals ranging from the smallest plankton to some the largest animals on the planet. Our RETHINK kit (pictured above) is designed to cover your most common plastic alternative needs; equipped with a reusable spork, straw and tote bag. 

Plastic straws are hard to recycle or even transport to landfills because of their size and weight so they often end up on beaches or in the ocean. In fact, plastic straws are one of the top 10 items picked up during beach clean-ups worldwide and, in the last 25 years, over 6 million straws have been removed during annual U.S. beach clean-ups. Most plastic straws are made of polypropylene, which takes hundreds of years to degrade, with the resulting degradation having been found to never leave our seas. When we say degrade, we aren’t referring to biodegrade (decay into natural compounds) but the process of breaking up into tiny pieces called microplastics, forever remaining in the environment. This is why we chose to include a reusable straw with a protective case in our kit.

Plastic shopping bags are among the most ubiquitous consumer items on Earth. The EPA reports that, in the US, we use over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps per year, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to create. Worldwide, it is estimated that about 5 trillion bags are produced! They make it convenient for carrying groceries, clothing, and other routine purchases and it’s hard to imagine life without them. However, we must RETHINK this product for the good of the other inhabitants of this planet. Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them. The bags often do not pass through the turtles’ digestive system and block their intestines, leading to starvation. In one recent study, over 100 sea turtles (of all seven species) were examined that had died either by stranding or by being accidentally caught by fishermen and plastic was found in the gut of every single one. Similarly, seabirds, fish and other marine animals, like the whale shark pictured above, also mistake pieces of plastic for food, or become entangled in plastic, leading to exhaustion, starvation and eventual death. This is why we chose to include a reusable tote bag in our kit.

Plastic cutlery is everywhere, and most of it is only used once. Billions of forks, knives, and spoons are thrown away each year. Sodexo, one of the world’s largest food-service providers, alone orders 44 million disposable utensils per month in the U.S., or 528 million per year. Globally, plastic cutlery is a $2.6 billion business. Like many plastic items, cutlery often finds its way into the environment, where it poses dangers for animals and can take hundreds of years to break down. Like plastic straws and bags, utensils are one of the most commonly collected plastic item at beach-clean ups nation wide. The Ocean Conservancy lists cutlery as among the items “most deadly” to sea turtles, birds, and mammals. This is why we chose to inlcude a resualbe bamboo spork in our kit. 

Keep this RETHINK kit (pictured at the top of this page) in your purse, backpack, or car so you’re always prepared to RETHINK single-use plastics! Each kit is $50 and you can get yours HERE today! If you would like to make a donation to marine debris research and efforts that is larger than $50, please feel free to personalize the donation amount. Your purchase/donation not only reinforces your own commitment to refuse single-use plastics but also supports marine debris research and conservation action to prevent plastics from entering the ocean and harming marine life. Mahalo for making a difference.

Visit our RETHINK page to read more about plastic pollution impacts and get tips on alternatives to plastic you can use in your everyday life instead.

Posted by:Alicia Wood

Alicia joined Pacific Whale Foundation in 2018 as communications coordinator, after graduating from the University of Hawaii Maui College with a degree in Sustainable Science Management.

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