10 Most Common Types Of Ocean Trash

It’s pretty impossible to go to the beach without finding a piece of trash tossing about in the surf, or half buried in the sand. Unfortunately, with monstrosities like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch swirling about offshore, it’s unlikely that our coastlines will be trash-free any time soon.

And with the recent news of possible Japanese tsunami debris spotted off the Canadian coast, ocean pollution is no longer a problem countries can tackle on their own. Last year, the Ocean Conservancy decided to conduct a massive, international experiment to help bring awareness to the big problem of marine debris.

During the 2011 International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers in multiple countries trolled the world’s shorelines, picking up every kind of trash imaginable. And as they collected it, they kept a tally of the most common items that washed up on shore.

Here’s what they found:

Top 10 Items Of Ocean Trash“Our volunteers picked up enough food packaging for a person to get takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the next 858 years,” said Vikki Spruill, Ocean Conservancy’s President and CEO. “Ocean trash is human-generated, preventable and one of the biggest threats to our ocean and waterways.”

And trash wasn’t all they found. Volunteers encountered reptiles, birds, invertebrates, mammals, fish, and coral species that were killed by plastic bags, fishing line, plastic bottles, and other trash in the ocean.

Although the tsunami is responsible for the spread of some of this debris, most of it is preventable. Making sure glass, plastic, and metals end up in the recycling bin is a big first step. Refusing to litter, even paper or small wrappers, can also reduce ocean pollution dramatically.

“The Cleanup shows beaches suffered from marine debris before the tsunami and will continue to until our vision of Trash Free Seas is realized,” Spruill said.  “We must make our ocean more resilient for when unthinkable, unpreventable disasters do occur.

Learn how you can do your part to clean up our coastlines by volunteering for or organizing a beach clean up in your area.

Related Reading:

Is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch A Myth?

Silent Super Bowl Ad Highlights Unhealthy Oceans

German Artist Builds Hotel From Ocean Trash

Image via Thinkstock

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Winn Adams
Winn Adams2 years ago

Disgusting what people will do to our oceans.

Carole R.
Carole R.2 years ago


Carole R.
Carole R.2 years ago


Carole R.
Carole R.2 years ago


Natasha Salgado
Natasha Salgado2 years ago

Just a shame. Great article,thanks!

Laura Saxon
Past Member 2 years ago

Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

Terry V.
Terry V.3 years ago


Huber F.
Huber F.3 years ago


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

litter is my BIGGEST pet peeve. When I see it on the roadside I ache. My mom and dad used to get on to me for picking up trash while we walked on the beach or at the zoo and holding it till I found a trash can (bc it was "dirty" who knows whose "germs" id get) I still do that. Littering is not just lazy, its a scar on our planet and pointless and inconsiderate

Valentina R.
Valentina R.3 years ago

Don't forget tampons. Yuk, truly shameful.