5 Heartbreaking Photos That Remind Us Why We Need to Recycle

It is almost impossible to go a day without adding to the immense volume of plastic waste that is slowly destroying the planet and its inhabitants, as we’ve become so dependent on it for packaging, products, machinery, furniture, food containers, bottles and of course bags.

Plastic is one of the most environmentally harmful things that man has ever created, yet most people don’t pay a moment’s thought to where it ends up once it has been dumped in the trash bin, dropped on the street or thrown into a bush.

Landfill sites are stacked to the sky with plastic, and from here it gets blown and washed into waterways, and carried off by wildlife, causing an a never ending cycle of suffering and destruction.

The UN Environmental Programme estimates that there are now more than 46,000 pieces of plastic for every square kilometer of ocean, with the total mass of that plastic adding up to six times the amount of phytoplankton.

The following five photographs are a heartbreaking reminder of who and what we’re damaging when we fail to recycle, and how it ends up being scattered around the planet, polluting, strangling and suffocating (warning: some graphic images below).

This Is What We’re Doing to Our Waterways

Hundreds of miles of the world’s coastlines have now become plastic graveyards, with un-degradable trash items washing ashore and scattering along the beach. You might imagine that photos like this are all taken close to major urban centers, but even the most isolated parts of the world are being severely affected by human pollution, with scenes similar to this being recorded on the remote beaches of northern Norway.

Phone credit: National Geographic

Seal Trapped in Floating Debris

Seal creatures suffer the worst for our obsession with plastic, as huge volumes of waste end up floating in the oceans and along coastlines, creating dangerous zones for animals to pass through. This photo captures the intolerable suffering of a poor seal trapped in an island of ocean rubbish.

Photo credit: tedxgp2

Animals Strangled to Death by Beer Can Plastic Loops

Images like the one of this poor hedgehog, with his head trapped inside the plastic waste of a beer can pack are all too common these days. Littered around almost every inner city and park bench in the country, these plastic loops claim the lives of thousands of domestic and wild animals every year.

Photo credit: Hedgehog Helpline

Oceanic Pollution Out of Control

Strong currents take our plastic pollution to the deepest depths of the ocean, affecting some of the rarest, most endangered species on the planet. Sea turtles, stingrays, whales, sharks, crustaceans and fish all fall victim to pollution, becoming entangled and dying as a result.

Photo credit: Nation Of Change

The Death of the Seabird

Birds mistake small plastic items such as bottle tops, bags and lighters as being food, and this has had a devastating effect on seabirds who are now surrounded by endless miles of floating rubbish piles, often with fatal consequences. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds have been found dead, the plastic contents of their stomachs outlasting their decaying bodies — a sobering image for humanity to reflect upon.

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Photo credit: Chris Jordan

These heartbreaking images remind us why it is so important to make conscious decisions about our plastic waste. If you don’t want to be responsible for this kind of needless suffering then there are many ways you can make a positive difference. From recycling your own waste to organizing or participating in local cleanups, together we can create a kinder world.

Photo Credit: Nation of Change


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill1 years ago

Everything comes in plastic now. I much prefer glass, food tastes better.

Sara G.
Sara G2 years ago

Think how much better off our planet would be if humans had never evolved. We are truly a blight on Mother Earth.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

So unfair, and all is our fault. Animals have to suffer our stupidity and ignorance :((

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey2 years ago

Reuse recycle and reduce.
We must try to cut this wasteful attitude out.

Christine V.
Christine V2 years ago

thanks for sharing

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H2 years ago

Watch the video of birds suffering on Midway Island. The entire island is covered with dead and dying birds who were filled with plastic. It is horrific. Humans have not been on that island in years and we are still ruining it. They did a massive clean up and took TONS of plastic off the island.

Debbie Miller
Debbie Miller2 years ago

Indeed it does break ones heart!! You wonder how could it come to this?

Sheri D.
Sheri D2 years ago

These truly are heartbreaking photos.

Yolanda Aguilar
Yolanda Aguilar2 years ago

What are we doing with our world? We need to stop !!!