Trashing our beaches, way too much

Everybody knows there's trash on the world's beaches. But just how much?

has a pretty good idea. Last year, during the group's international coastal cleanup, nearly 400,000 volunteers removed seven million pounds of from the planet's oceans, lakes, rivers and waterways.

The most ubiquitous item: cigarette butts, to the tune of 3,216,991, or 28 percent of the items they found.

Next in line were : 1,377,141, or 12 percent.

The rest in the top ten: /containers, caps and lids, , paper bags, straws, utensils, glass beverage bottles and . Another oft-found item: diapers. Used.

The conservancy just released a report about the findings: A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris and What We Can Do About It. The document makes for grim reading. Find it at .

The report focuses a lot on the effects to wildlife, which can become entangled in plastic or eat it and choke or suffer other harm, the conservancy said. During last year's clean-up, volunters found 443 animals entangled or trapped; of those, 268 were still alive and were released.

Another thing: The conservancy emphasized that trash is a problem caused by humans, and one that can be stopped by humans. "Trash doesn't fall from the sky; it falls from our hands," said Vikki Spruill, the group's president and CEO, in a prepared statement.

The report lists statistics by country and, in the United States, by state.


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