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Marine biologist documents unbelievable team effort to clean up the ‘most polluted river in Europe’: ‘Over 400 bags … in just a few hours’

“This is by no means a solution.”

"This is by no means a solution."

Photo Credit: Instagram

Sometimes it can feel like the actions of just a few people couldn’t possibly make a dent in the massive problem that is plastic pollution. However, one marine biologist shared an incredible team effort to clean up “the most polluted river in Europe.” 

Marine biologist Tom’s Odyssey (@tomsodyssey) posted a Reel of the unbelievable cleanup effort along the Ishëm River in Albania. Tom explains in the video that over 770 tons of plastic pollution pour into the sea from that river every year. 

In the video, numerous people are seen picking up trash on a beach that appears to have almost as much plastic as sand. It’s a disturbing scene, but Tom and a team of people from the nonprofit River Cleanup made the dire situation much better with their efforts. 

“We gathered over 400 bags and two tons of waste in just a few hours,” Tom says at the end of the video. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only trashy river in the world. Plastic pollution is one of the biggest problems facing humanity today. According to The World Bank, people worldwide generated about 267 million tons of plastic waste in 2016 — that’s equal to the weight of 3.4 million adult blue whales.

Some people may put hope in the act of recycling plastic, but unfortunately, that’s not happening anywhere near the rate it’s needed. Greenpeace estimates that only about 5% of plastic gets recycled in America, which means most of it ends up in landfills or nature. 

As waste breaks down in landfills, it releases methane, which heats up our planet faster than carbon dioxide. In nature, plastic can take hundreds of years to break down, and as it does, it turns into microplastics, which are poisoning wildlife in every corner of the Earth, including us humans.

Luckily, there are solutions to this plastic problem. It can start with finding plastic-free alternatives for everyday products. Avoid single-use water bottles and use a reusable water bottle instead. You can also donate money to organizations like River Cleanup and The Ocean Cleanup, or organize your own neighborhood cleanup.  

All of those little things can add up, especially if we all start doing them. 

“This is by no means a solution, but a cleanup like this helps raise awareness for the problem of plastic in Albania,” Tom says in the video. 

The comment section was full of support for the beach cleaning. 

“Together we can do it!” one person wrote.

River Cleanup echoed that sentiment, commenting, “Stronger together!!! Let’s put an end to this!”

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