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Plastic Whale

Updated: Apr 12, 2018

In the far north reaches of Europe a small team are taking to Amsterdam canals with nets, poles and rods. But unlike the other fisherman in the capital’s they’re not looking for fish, they’re fishing for plastic.

They have a mission to fish out every piece of rubbish and plastic from the waterways and their dream is to “go out of business”.

The whale that came with a message

In 2017 a rare Cuvier-Beaked whale swam into a Sotra, a small Norwegian harbour. The 2-ton male was seen floating, resting, not moving, and breathing heavily. The Department of Wild Conservation made attempts to guide the animal back out to the deeper ocean. But the beaked whale returned into the harbour. It was sick and dying.

After a few days labouring in the harbour, the whale was euthanized. Upon a necropsy, scientists found 30 plastic bags packed in his stomach and intestines. They were a twisted mass of garbage and shopping bags.

There were wrappers and food packages, and a packet that the scientists could read, Cheese and Onion 6 pack, which ironically had a recycling symbol. There was no food in his stomach except one small squid head, and the whale had lost most of his fat, which would have caused severe pain.

The whale – had starved to death.

From Sky Ocean Rescue documentary

Cuvier whales usually live at a depth of 1000m below sea level, eating squid and other deep-sea fish, which means the plastic pollution issue just got more serious. How is the plastic we are using and discarding, that ends up in our water, finding itself to these depths? To do this, plastic must be travelling together in a massive plastic junk heap through our oceans, creating a plastic soup.

Unfortunately this is not a one-off.

Another Cuvier's beaked whale died on the Isle of Skye with huge numbers of plastic bags in its stomach. And of the other 50-100 post mortems completed on whales each year, alarmingly each of them are being found with plastic bags in their stomachs.

Stemming the plastic tide

Spurred on by the plastic pollution problem and the recent spate of marine mammals ingesting our plastic and dying, Plastic Whale, is seeking to remove the plastic tide. They are on a mission to make the world’s waters plastic-free, but not only that they are doing something marvellously creative – creating value from plastic waste.

They are making Boats from plastic waste. And high-end ingenious office furniture. Their debut collection consists of a boardroom table, a chair, lamps and acoustic wall panels. With part of the proceeds invested in local initiatives across the world to tackle the plastic soup problem.

And there are some inspiring results.

The Sotra whale paid the ultimate price because of us. And we couldn’t save the Sotra whale, but there are thousands of other whales we can.Starting in Amsterdam, Plastic Whale’s goal is to go global. And you can help.

Get Involved

1. Go plastic fishing (with Plastic Whale)

2. Recycle your plastics at local RedCycling centres (Australia) or your local recycling in your country.

3. Get a cool funky Keeper Cup and say NO to take away coffee cups and lids

4. Take your own cotton shopping bags yo, to the grocery store. If you do forget a bag, just return the plastic bag when you’re finished.

5. Carry a reusable water bottle and travel mug wherever you go

6. Pack your lunch in glass (Mason jars are wonderfully versatile), stainless steel, cloth sandwich bags, a wooden Bento box, etc.

7. Think GLASS not plastic. If you can sub out any plastics you use to keep food fresh in the fridge or in your bag for glass you’ll be doing the oceans and yourself a favour. Did you know that if you use plastic bits of the plastic can come off in your food and water? And you’ll ingest them.

8. Become hooked on shopping for food using GLASS jars. Thanks to Source Bulk Foods an Australian you can use glass canning jars to buy all your nuts, seeds, pasta, honey, cereals, dishwashing and more!

There are many ways in which you can contribute to the solution, spread the word. It’s as simple as saying Yes to GLASS and NO to Plastic. You really can make a difference.