Swimming In Trash

A Whale of a Problem! Where Does Our Waste Really Go?

Where exactly is this place called Away that we throw things to? Plastic pollution in our oceans has become an ocean-sized challenge, emerging as one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Confronting the enormity of this problem can be overwhelming, which is why the Monterey Bay Aquarium, in collaboration with Bay Area partners, embarked on a unique initiative. Together, they constructed an 82-foot-long blue whale sculpture entirely out of discarded plastic waste. This awe-inspiring creation serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to curb our reliance on single-use plastics. As we confront this mammoth challenge, collective action is vital to ensure a positive outcome.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, joined forces with the National Park Service, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Hub Strategy & Communication, Building 180, and local artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova to bring this ambitious project to life. This “whale of a tale” seeks a happy ending through the concerted efforts of individuals like you, pledging to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics. By working together, we can tackle these colossal challenges head-on.

It is crucial to recognize that our waste does not simply disappear when we throw it “away.” It permeates our cells, litters our beaches, and infiltrates both the wilderness and the sea. Our consumption choices have far-reaching consequences, contributing to climate change and pollution. While recycling plays a role, it alone cannot solve the waste crisis. To protect the health and well-being of our families, it is advisable to opt for organic and locally sourced food whenever possible while rejecting single-use plastics. Safeguarding planetary health directly impacts our own.

Consider this alarming fact: Every nine minutes, an amount of plastic equivalent to the weight of a blue whale (approximately 300,000 pounds) finds its way into the ocean. The magnitude of this issue demands urgent action and systemic change.

When it comes to waste management, recycling is an essential practice. However, it is essential to note that recycling processes require significant energy. Local waste management companies generally accept clean glass, metals, plastic bottles, tubs, jugs, and clean and dry paper. It is crucial to ensure that these materials are free from contamination to enable successful recycling.

Certain types of waste, unfortunately, fall outside the realm of recycling. Non-recyclable plastics, rubber, sanitary items, diapers, as well as complex materials not designed for recycling or composting, are categorized as trash. Compostable bags, while appealing in theory, also end up in the trash as they cannot be recycled and hold no compost value.

Embracing composting practices is a significant step in reducing our carbon emissions and revitalizing our soils. Many cities offer compost bins that accept a wide range of materials, including food scraps, soiled paper, paper bags, and plants. However, it is crucial to refrain from composting compostable plastics or compostable plastic bags, as current regional compost facilities lack the capability to process such materials.

As we navigate the complexities of waste management, let us remember that the choices we make today shape our collective future. By embracing sustainable practices, reducing single-use plastics, and advocating for responsible waste management, we can make a tangible difference in protecting our planet’s fragile ecosystems. It is through our combined efforts that we will chart a sustainable path forward, ensuring a brighter, cleaner, and healthier world for generations to come.


What we use and throw “away” hides in all of our cells, on all of our beaches and in the wild lands and seas we depend on.

Have you considered what it means that every nine minutes, plastic weighing as much as a blue whale (about 300,000 pounds) ends up in the ocean?


Remember it takes a lot of energy to recycle things. Local trash companies accept clean glass metals, plastic bottles, tubs, & jugs, clean and dry paper. Any contamination makes it non recyclable.‚Äč


Non-recyclable plastics, rubber, sanitary items and diapers, feces and complex materials that were not designed to be recycled or composted in many commercial facilities. Compost-able bags are also trash as they can’t be recycled and have no compost value.


Composting reduces our carbon emissions and rebuilds our soils. Many cities have compost bins that accepts all food scraps, soiled paper, paper bags & plants in green compost can. Please do not compost compost-able plastics or compost-able plastic bags, as the current regional compost facilities are unable to process those materials.

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