Freedom Island Waste Clean-up and Brand Audit in the Philippines © Daniel Müller / Greenpeace

Greenpeace together with the Break Free From Plastic coalition conducted a beach cleanup activity and plastics brand audit on Freedom Island, Philippines in 2017. © Daniel Müller / Greenpeace

I love the ocean, but for years I haven’t been able to visit a beach without seeing the effects of plastic pollution. Microplastics mix with seashells in the sand. Plastic bags roll down the beach. Foam cups break down in the surf.

We are surrounded by plastics that are intended to be used once and thrown away almost immediately. But plastic never goes away! These single-use plastics are filling up our oceans and choking marine life. Birds, fish, and whales have been found dead, their insides filled with straws, plastic bags, and wrappers.

Plastic has been found in drinking water all around the world, and it’s making its way into our food.

Terrapin Trapped in Plastic © Stefan Leijon / CC BY-ND 2.0

This terrapin found was trapped in a plastic ring, altering the shape of its shell. Stefan Leijon / CC BY-ND 2.0

Big companies tell us to recycle more.

Companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, McDonald’s produce massive amounts of single-use plastics while our oceans suffer. They tell us to recycle more, but over 90% of plastic is not recycled, and plastic production is still increasing.

Plastics in Mexico City © Argelia Zacatzi / Greenpeace

In Mexico, where this photo was taken, each person uses an average of 48 kilos of plastic per year. © Argelia Zacatzi / Greenpeace

For too long, corporations have been telling us that recycling is the answer to the plastic waste problem. But we will never be able to recycle our way out of this crisis. We need to solve the problem at the source. It’s time we make corporations take responsibility for their part of this problem, and take steps to reduce the amount of plastic they produce.

People are waking up to the truth.

We can do something about all this plastic. There is a growing chorus of voices saying “enough.” People around the world have been posting photos to social media, calling out big companies, retailers, and supermarkets for their role in plastic pollution.

Over one million people around the world have already signed petitions and taken other actions to send a strong message to companies that it’s time they do their part for a plastic-free future. And soon, thousands — maybe even a million — more people will be stepping up their actions even further to help their communities break free from plastic.

You can join this growing movement by signing the petition today. And look out for some exciting tools coming very soon to make an even bigger impact!

Water is the lifeline that connects us all, through oceans, rivers, and the tap water from our faucets. We have a right to healthy, clean water that is free from plastic pollution. Let’s make 2018 the year we break free from plastic!