How Plastic Affects Whales

photos from the photographer Andrew Bain

Because so much plastic ends up in our oceans, whales often ingest bits of plastic by accident. It can also enter their digestive systems from eating prey that has itself ingested plastics and microplastics. Even True’s beaked whales, which dive about 1,400 meters deep to feed near the seafloor, have been found dead and beached with plastics in their stomachs.

Pollutants from plastic, like DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), contaminate the water. They then enter the whale’s body when ingested, and from there are stored in their blubber. They’re also likely to accumulate the highest amounts of chemicals passed on from their prey.

How You Can Help

Ditch single-use plastic in your daily life and make the switch to durable, reusable alternatives, or their biodegradable counterparts. 

For example, every cloth shopping bag you use can save the earth about 100 to 700 plastic bags per year. Switching to silicone food bags, used to replace sealable plastic bags and cling wrap, can keep even more hundreds, or even thousands of plastic bags from entering our oceans every day. Plus they’re safe to boil and don’t contain any BPAs harmful to our bodies.



Cotton produce bags are a wonderful alternative to plastic bags for carrying and keeping your fruits and veggies fresh. And for your packed lunches or bakery runs, use a biodegradable beeswax wrap. Sustainably farmed beeswax and jojoba keep your food fresh, and it can be washed, revived, and reused for up to 6 to 12 months.

You can even switch from plastic toothbrushes to bamboo ones, as well as bamboo makeup removal pads, bamboo straws, and the like. (See an example of an eco bundle including this and more.) Bamboo toothbrushes are especially compostable and reusable in your garden and other places around the home.

Every single living creature in our oceans needs our help, from the smallest piece of plankton and anemone to the biggest blue whale. It may seem like an insurmountable task now, but every day, more and more people everywhere are making the switch to zero-waste. Do your part. Every little bit helps.


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