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Shocking photos show sea of plastic in Carribbean

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, October 26, 2017, 5:15 PM - Plastic is an integral part of modern society, but this "miracle material" has a downside. It's estimated that 1 billion tonnes of plastic have been discarded since the 1950s, and research suggests it will take up to 500 years for some forms to biodegrade.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 8% of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 in the U.S. actually made it to recycling plants.

The other 92% was shuffled off to landfills or found its way into the water. A 2015 study published in the journal Science suggests eight million tonnes of plastic make it into the oceans each year, an amount that can be hard to visualize -- until now.

In a series of shocking Facebook posts, Roatán-based photographer Caroline Power shows the shocking amount of waste floating in the water surrounding the Caribbean island belonging to Honduras.

It's suspected some of the trash was pushed into the water following an earthquake in Guatemala.

"This has to stop," Power says.

The pollution isn't just unsightly: a 2015 study published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin examined 44,006 individual animals of 395 species that had eaten plastic particles or had gotten caught in plastic waste. In 80 per cent of the incidents, the encounter injured or killed the animal. This has pushed some species to near-extinction in the wild.

"Do you buy toilet paper that comes wrapped in plastic instead of paper? Do you put your fruit and veggies in produce bags at the grocery?" Power says in her Facebook post.

"I challenge every person and every business to keep your trash for one week. Separate your organic and recyclables and keep everything else for one week. You will be disgusted how many single use items you use."

Since posting, her images have been shared more than 1,600 times.

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