ENVIRONMENT

Heartbreaking Photographs Show How We're Ruining The Pacific Ocean

We're filling it with trash, and it ain't pretty.

Mankind dumps millions of tons of plastic into our oceans every year. An ambitious project slated to begin in the next decade will help eliminate existing waste by collecting trash in specific regions of the Pacific -- but it's vital for the rest of us to enact sustainable solutions if we want to avoid creating the same problem all over again.

That said, few of us really understand the situation firsthand.

"It's quite an abstract thing to talk about. It's very far away for people," Boyan Slat, founder of The Ocean Cleanup, told The Huffington Post in an interview earlier this week.

Slat, who's heading the plan to build a 62-mile, trash-capturing wall in the Pacific, didn't have his own awakening until he tried to get his diver's license.

"I never really thought about this problem. I was 16, I went diving to get my license. I did that and expected to see beautiful things. When I went, the water had a close resemblance to some sort of trash dump," Slat told HuffPost. "I saw more plastic bags than fish."

If seeing the waste meant something to him, perhaps it will mean something to you. We've collected a few images to put the Pacific's trash crisis into perspective. 

  • Rubbish is strewn along the beach in Anguan village, Hainan, China, on June 13, 2011.
    STR/AFP/Getty Images
    Rubbish is strewn along the beach in Anguan village, Hainan, China, on June 13, 2011.
  • A Chinese farmer walks along a garbage-strewn beach in Anguan village, Hainan, China, on June 13, 2011.
    STR/AFP/Getty Images
    A Chinese farmer walks along a garbage-strewn beach in Anguan village, Hainan, China, on June 13, 2011.
  • People collect garbage along the Manila Bay sea wall in Manila City, Philippines, on July 7, 2014. 
    Gregorio B. Dantes Jr./Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
    People collect garbage along the Manila Bay sea wall in Manila City, Philippines, on July 7, 2014. 
  • People collect plastic bags and other types of garbage from the Manila Bay on July 3, 2014.
    Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images
    People collect plastic bags and other types of garbage from the Manila Bay on July 3, 2014.
  • Red tide and garbage pollution are seen in the sea in Qingdao, China, on May 21, 2012.
    Hong Wu/Getty Images
    Red tide and garbage pollution are seen in the sea in Qingdao, China, on May 21, 2012.
  • Trash and debris from previous storms accumulate in Seal Beach, California, near the mouth of the San Gabriel River, on Jan.
    David McNew/Getty Images
    Trash and debris from previous storms accumulate in Seal Beach, California, near the mouth of the San Gabriel River, on Jan. 26, 2010.
  • Garbage from the Gulf of Osaka is washed ashore in Osaka, Japan.
    JTB Photo/UIG via Getty Images
    Garbage from the Gulf of Osaka is washed ashore in Osaka, Japan.
  • Cranes pick up debris from the Los Angeles River by Long Beach, California.
    Universal ImagesGroup via Getty Images
    Cranes pick up debris from the Los Angeles River by Long Beach, California.
  • Children collect garbage along Manila Bay in Navotas, Philippines, on July 15, 2015.
    Richard James Mendoza/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
    Children collect garbage along Manila Bay in Navotas, Philippines, on July 15, 2015.
  • An activist collects plastic bags and other types of garbage from the Manila Bay on July 3, 2014.
    Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images
    An activist collects plastic bags and other types of garbage from the Manila Bay on July 3, 2014.
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