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


Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thank you.

Melania P
Melania Pabout a year ago

But, more than recycle, we need to reduce/stop consuming plastics, so these are never produced in the first place. We have reached a point where recycling is not enough.

Melania P
Melania Pabout a year ago

Consumers' habits are the key, also education and, but not for everyone, love, and respect for this planet.

Margie FOURIE1 years ago

Very bad

One Heart inc
One Heart inc1 years ago


Philippa P
Philippa Powers1 years ago

My heart is crying.

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa1 years ago

Thank you

Patricia H
Patricia Harris1 years ago

Cruel Justice said ''Humans are the real trash.'' Don't talk about yourself that way!

Janis K
Janis K1 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Jaime J
Jaime J1 years ago

Thank you