You see it everyday, people throwing their trash on the ground, as they walk through the park and as they drive down the street. Rarely do you even think about it when you are doing it, but it has a major impact on the environment.

In 2015, National Geographic reported that there were 5.5 trillion pieces of plastic debris cluttering our oceans, a staggering number that was only continuing to grow in time. The biggest problem associated with plastic clutter, in particular, is its inability to break down. Experts estimate that it can take anywhere from 450 years to never, allowing this waste to accumulate to a frightening degree. Recognizing the long-term impact of this waste on our planet, the wildlife that shares this space with us, as well as our own long-term well being, experts are raising the red flag, warning us that we need to make a change, and we need to make it today!

In their recent ‘Planet or Plastic?’ campaign, National Geographic is not only sharing a great deal of information relating to the problem, they are also calling on readers to make a pledge, that they will ‘reduce single-use plastic in your everyday life.’

It is this same alarming problem that the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) would like to address in a recent blog post, titled ‘Marine litter on our shores.’ In this post, the organization addresses the problem of litter in our oceans, one that has been highlighted recently in a number of different articles online, each including a number of upsetting and photos of sea turtles trapped in discarded trash, seabirds with their beaks entangled in garbage and sea mammals, including whales and dolphins, literally losing their lives to the large amount of litter that they are ingesting on a regular basis.

While they don’t deny that there is a significant risk to marine life, the SNH wanted to specifically point out the risk that this litter discarded in our oceans poses for land mammals. Specifically, they highlighted a situation that occurred on the Rum National Nature Reserve. A length of fishing rope had washed up on shore, where it wound up wrapped around the antlers of two red stags.

“Red deer stags with rope and netting caught on their antlers is an all too familiar occurrence, particularly around Scotland’s West Coast,” the SNH wrote. “Thankfully it doesn’t always end so tragically, as stags naturally cast their antlers in the spring. It’s not unusual to come across shed antlers entwined with old rope.” Unfortunately, for the two stags in question, the outcome was tragic with both losing their lives.

While the image is tragic and hard to look at, the organization decided to release it in the hope that it would open the eyes of all who came see it. Along with it, they also released an image of a stag with rope and a buoy caught up in its antlers and a shot of the litter-strewn coastline of Scotland.

“Marine pollution is a huge global problem but there are many small things that everyone can do locally to help wildlife on their doorstep, now and in the future,” the SNH explained, calling on readers to stand up and make a difference. “If you are out walking on the coastline, any marine waste that you collect, no matter how small, will make a difference and could even save a life.”

Feature Image Source: Scottish Natural Heritage

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