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The Ocean Conservancy, which organizes an annual International Coastal Clean-Up, has published its results in the 2012 Trash Index. You’re not imagining it: as the global population swells, tankers continue to leak oil, and plastic water bottles continue to be our favorite way to drink tap water, the world’s beaches are getting dirtier.

Nearly 600,000 volunteers worked in multiple countries to pick up and record the over nine million pounds of trash listed in this report. Check out their trashy findings, download a helpful pocket guide to recycling and if you’re inclined, donate to help their efforts. And for the love of all things oceanic, if you smoke, find a better place than the ocean or ground to throw your cigarette butts (the number one piece of trash found on beaches)!

Image: Ocean Conservancy

So much ocean trash! Of course, what’s key is finding ways to prevent trash from reaching our waterways in the first place. From looking at the above chart, reducing our use of single-use, disposable items could make a difference.

With so much trash washing ashore, it’s no surprise to come across artists who use beach debris as raw material. We’ve highlighted a handful of them on Unconsumption here.

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