The bloody turtle video that sparked a plastic straw revolution

Filmmakers The Jetlagged have teamed up with global alliance Plastic Pollution Coalition to release “Sea Plastic,” a beautiful and powerful virtual reality film illustrating the plastic pollution crisis. 

Narrated by Oscar-winning actor, producer, activist, and Plastic Pollution Coalition Notable Member, Tim Robbins, the film takes viewers on a journey through polluted beaches, a river of plastic, under the surface of the ocean, and even into an overflowing and burning landfill. Stunning footage is combined with actions each of us can take to work together to stop plastic pollution.  

In addition to the English version of the film narrated by Tim Robbins, “Sea Plastic” is available in German, narrated by TV presenter and nature filmmaker Dirk Steffens and in Indonesian, narrated by journalist and news presenter Prita Laura, with French, Spanish and Chinese translations forthcoming. After premiering in Germany in September, “Sea Plastic” is now exclusively available on Plastic Pollution Coalition’s website for the next two weeks.

How To Watch

Click on the link here or below and watch the film on your computer or smart phone—you can click and drag to change the perspective. On your smart phone, a circle icon will pop up to change the perspective.

To view the film on your VR headsets, there are two options:

1. For headsets that work with smartphones, touch the VR goggle symbol before inserting the phone into the headset.

2. For headsets with internal apps, like Oculus, open the Youtube app in the VR headset and then enter the title of the film in the search field or the link.

The film is best viewed with a VR headset for the full experience, enabling the viewer to look around.

“Many people do not realize the depth of our global plastic pollution crisis with 91 percent of the plastic that is produced ending up in landfill and our environment,” said Dianna Cohen, a visual artist and Co-Founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition. “Even if you are not a swimmer, snorkeler, or diver, you will be immersed in the ocean and see the impact of plastic pollution on wildlife in the ocean. We are so proud of this beautiful film that educates and inspires people to action.”

Filmmakers Claudia Schmitt and Hendrik Schmitt traveled to Indonesia for several months to capture the footage used in “Sea Plastic.”

“Wherever we went, no matter how remote, we were confronted with plastic pollution. By immersing the viewer in environments that are heavily affected by plastic trash, we want to challenge viewers to rethink their plastic consumption and eventually change their behavior,” said Claudia. “Pristine environments which are not affected by plastic pollution yet contrast the pollution, and we want this to ignite a desire to protect our planet and inspire the viewer to spread the word about the problem with plastic and the solutions available to people in their own communities.”

Watch the film in English.

Watch the film in German 360° MEER-PLASTIK – erzählt von Dirk Steffens

Watch the film in Indonesian 360° LAUTAN PLASTIK – Diriwayatkan oleh Prita Laura

Take action to stop plastic pollution. 

About the Filmmakers

The Jetlagged are award-winning filmmakers, creating powerful films about the underwater world from the polar circle to the equator. They use their cameras to film pristine underwater worlds and vulnerable marine species to raise awareness about the fragility of the oceans and their importance for our planet and promote as divers, promote an environmental lifestyle.

With 360° VR films, they have found a new way of bringing the ocean even closer to the people: the viewers get an experience which totally immerses them in the underwater environment – in a way that almost feels like being there.

The Jetlagged are using the power of media to show what is at stake, but also what can be saved – if a global movement of activism for marine conservation, with personal and political engagement, gives the ocean the chance to recover. Learn more. 

About Plastic Pollution Coalition

Plastic Pollution Coalition is a growing global alliance of more than 1,200 organizations, businesses, and thought leaders in 75 countries working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, waterways, the ocean, and the environment. Learn more. 

May 17 is Endangered Species Day, which is an opportunity for people around the world to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions we can take to protect them.

About Endangered Species

An animal is considered endangered when its numbers in the wild have dropped so low that it’s at great risk of extinction. Today there are 41,415 endangered species on the IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List. Of those 41,415 species, 16,306 are considered endangered species threatened with extinction. Sadly, according to a recent UN report this number might soon be much higher, and it is largely the result of human behavior.

The UN report states: “Human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before,” and estimates that “around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken.”

The report also shows that one of the main threats to nature is plastic pollution, which has increased tenfold since 1980. According to the report, marine plastic pollution has affected at least 267 species, including 86% of marine turtles, 44% of seabirds, and 43% of marine mammals. Marine animals die every day from ingesting plastic of all sizes.

What Can You Do?

There are many things you can do on a daily basis to help protect endangered species, including committing to refusing single-use plastic whenever possible. Here are a couple of easy ways to cut plastic out of your life to help protect endangered species:

-Bring your own reusable water bottle instead of buying single-use plastic ones

-Say “No straw, please” when dining at a restaurant

-Bring your own reusable bag when you go shopping

-Carry reusable utensils and containers to work or school

-Bring your own mug or tumbler when getting coffee to-go

Join Plastic Pollution Coalition as individual or as a representative of your business or organization

-Speak up and demand companies reduce the plastic footprint

What is your favorite way to go plastic-free?

Photo: Green Turtle hatchling climbing over plastic bottle strewn on the beach, Juani Island, Tanzania. @wwf_australia

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by Sandra Curtis, PPC’s Director of Innovative Projects

What’s that giant sucking sound emanating from Safe Harbor Marinas around the world?

CNN revived 1992 third party presidential candidate Ross Perot’s phrase, “the giant sucking sound?” in reference to the influx of college graduates returning to city centers and being a factor in the 2016 election.  But for this fortunate PPC staffer, that “giant sucking sound” signals one of the innovative arsenal of tools coming on the market to address plastic pollution in our nation’s waterways.

I had the good fortune to attend a demonstration of Seabin’s clean up technology at the Emeryville marina, across the bay from San Francisco, on a recent sunny afternoon. Pete Ceglinski, Seabin’s Co-Founder and Managing Director was demonstrating how the Seabin operates.

Once he lifted the catch bag to dump it over, Pete sorted through the debris and pulled out a few pieces of plastic, included a plastic nurdle. The Seabin can capture debris down to 2mm in size.

The brainchild of Australian surfers, Pete and his Co-founder & Director, Andrew “Turtle” Turton, the company was initially crowdfunded. Affixed to a dock, the unit’s pump runs on shore power creating a flow of water which sucks all floating rubbish and debris into a fiber bag before pumping the water back out. It catches everything floating from plastic bottles to paper, oils, fuel, and detergent. The Seabin can capture an estimated 1.5 Kgs of floating debris per day (depending on weather and debris volumes) including micro plastics like that small nurdle.

“It essentially works as a similar concept to a skimmer box from your pool filter,” said Seabin’s spokesman Richard Talmage. “But it’s designed on a scale to work and essentially attract all that rubbish within a location within a marine harbor.”

Seabins are currently installed in the following global locations:

  1. La Grande Motte, France
  2. Porto Montenegro, Montenegro
  3. Port Adriano, Spain
  4. Wartsila Corporation – Helsinki, Finland
  5. Butterfield Group – Hamilton Princess Marina, Bermuda
  6. Safe Harbor Marinas – Cabrillo Isle Marina San Diego, USA

With 64 marinas owned and counting, the plan is to install Seabin’s technology in all of Safe Harbor’s locations across America and also to implement the educational program in all locations with local schools.

The real solution:  Education

The Seabin Project has understood from the beginning that the Seabins are not the solution -education is. Consequently, they developed an open source education program based on interaction with and without the Seabin technology.

Seabin operates on a business motto of planned obsolescence – “To live in a world where we do not need Seabins.”

Working toward a world free of plastic pollution is something we ALL can support.

For local coverage, see this story in the local Emeryville Eye.

Take Action to stop plastic pollution.

Join our global Coalition. 

When Amber Marcoux and Tyler Wilcox of Ormond Beach, Florida, started planning their wedding, they wanted to make the event a celebration of love with a light footprint on the earth and local wildlife. They took the time to research and plan so that no single-use plastic was used during the event. We spoke with Amber to find out how they did it. 

PPC: Why and how did you decide to have a wedding with no single-use plastic?

Amber: This is something that gradually took shape for us. My husband is a HUGE Jack Johnson fan, and we recently attended a few of his shows. Jack made his events more than just the music and celebration, he made it about how gathering a group of people together is the perfect audience for talking about issues in our world.

Part of our inspiration came from that belief, and the other half came from my EXTREME love of turtles. I used to work for a non-profit humane society in the area, so animals are a BIG part of our lives. During my time at the humane society, I took a group of camp students to a local marine science center. During my FIRST visit to the Marine Science Center I watched a volunteer teach a group of 5-year-olds about the impact a plastic bag has on a sea turtle. She talked about how a sea turtle can’t see the difference from a plastic bag and a jelly fish and how the bags can make the turtles very sick. That was my moment. I went home that day, and vowed NEVER to use plastic bags again. Since then, I’ve been able to convince my friends and family about stopping the use of single-use plastic bags and either bringing their own, using paper, or just skipping the bag all together. 

When we started planning our wedding, both Tyler and I began to think of ways that we can make an impact on the audience we had in front of us on our special day. So we did! One of my favorite parts of the wedding was the art we created from our beach cleanups. Jack Johnson had done something similar for his tour, and we were inspired. We did regular beach cleanups leading up until the big day, and I took only a small portion of what we collected and used it to make an art piece to display to our guests on our big day. 

 What was the hardest part of planning this type of wedding? What was the best part?

This sounds silly, but the hardest part was getting people to understand what we were doing and why. I can’t tell you how many conversations I had to have with my venue about what “single-use” plastic and how going “plastic-free” meant NO plastic. My wedding coordinator asked once if plastic cups counted as single-use plastic. Yes, that happened.

I just don’t think our culture understands what it means. I think that they get it when you’re saying “no plastic” but they don’t really understand what and why. I had this conversation MANY times. I guess this would also be the best part. I did A LOT of Googling to see if others had “plastic-free” wedding ceremonies. It was sad, but I didn’t see it being a common thing. So we had to make it our own, and we had to ask A LOT of questions. They weren’t hard, but you have to stay more on top of your vendors, and really be in control of your ceremony.

Plastic came up in unexpected places. We had gifted our guests cookies in addition to our favor donation to a local marine science center. The cookies, of course, would have been wrapped in plastic. So we had to find an alternative. They’re out there, you just have to do your own research and look. 

Can you share about some of the ways you saved money or spent more money going plastic-free?

We didn’t necessarily “save” money when it came to the plastic-free initiative. We took the angle with our vendors of: do you use this? and if so, I’d like to provide an alternative. This way, we weren’t causing a conflict, but rather, letting the vendor or venue know that we would not accept something at our ceremony. We replaced A LOT like trash bags, straws, coffee stirrers, etc.

In the aspect of “saving money” we did a lot on our own. Tyler is incredibly handy and loves to spend time in the garage wood-working. So together, we created some really cool pieces for the big day. All of the signs and decor we had were made from upcycled wood from a local shop. A local succulent artist dedicated to conservation of the beach helped me create beautiful succulent pieces. To purchase things of this nature would have probably been more expensive, and they wouldn’t have any underlying meaning to them.

We did save money when we said no to things like balloons, fake flowers, etc. It’s crazy, but during our beach cleanups we found SO many fake rose petals cluttering the beach. Do I think this event cost more from going plastic-free? Yes. Do I think it was worth it? Yes, I didn’t spend an unheard of amount of money, a few dollars here and there to know we’re making a bigger impact.

Tyler and I REALLY loved making this day the way it was. We reached out to A LOT of fantastic organizations like Plastic Pollution Coalition that helped support us in making our day so special.

We were sponsored by the Sea Turtle Conservancy and Naked Turtle Rum company in our efforts for the sea turtles and going plastic-free. Naked Turtle Rum provided our guests with custom cocktails and items for use in our recyclable bag favors, and the Sea Turtle Conservancy set up the partnership with Naked Turtle Rum and provided us resources for our guests to learn more about their efforts. In addition to favors, we adopted a sea turtle from the Marine Science Center. 

Tyler and I want to help more couples by empowering them to challenge their venues to rid of single-use plastics. For us, weddings while they are about the incredible love we have for one another, we sometimes forget the simple things. You spend so much money for things YOU want, but don’t stop to think about how it might be effecting the environment. 

Congratulations Amber and Tyler!

Read PPC’s Guide to Plastic Free Events.

Take Action to stop plastic pollution.

Join our global Coalition. 

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Twelfth-grader Erin Shives, of San Diego, California, is a surfer, avid beach cleaner, and overall environmental enthusiast. For her required senior project, the theme had to involve war and conflict, so Shives chose the “war on plastic.”

“I did several beach clean ups and recorded the amount of trash bags I filled and individual straws I picked up,” she says. “Over six beach clean ups, I recorded a total of 737 straws. I used these straws to make a sculpture of a sea turtle.”

Shives, who had never created a sculpture before, was surprised by the school’s reaction. “This project really touched my school and my turtle is currently in our school art gallery,” says Shives, who wrote a letter to Jackie Nuñez, founder of The Last Plastic Straw, thanking her for the inspiration and resources on her website.

Plastic straws are dangerous to wildlife. Due to their small size, straws are often mistaken for food by animals and because of their strong shape, straws can cause suffocation and death to the animal. In at least one instance, the stomach of a penguin was perforated by a plastic straw. In another, in a video seen around the world, a sea turtle’s nostril bled as a plastic straw was removed.

“Erin’s project is a great example of the power we all have to speak up about single-use plastic like plastic straws,” explains Nuñez. “Thank you Erin for your kind words and your work in helping save the planet from plastic pollution!”

The Last Plastic Straw, a project of Plastic Pollution Coalition, is on a mission is to raise awareness about the absurdity of single-use plastic and to empower people with information to take action in their communities.

The Problem of Plastic Straws (And How Each of Us Can Make a Difference)

Join our global Coalition.