LIFE

Edible Six-Pack Rings Will Help To Save Marine Life Around The World

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

It’s no secret that humans produce way too much garbage. It’s everywhere.

And while we like to push it to the periphery of our lives and pretend it doesn’t exist, not everyone is so lucky.

The most vulnerable of our fellow earthlings have to put up with what we don’t want to, and sometimes it can be fatal.

We’re talking about animals, of course, especially sea creatures. The ocean is something like a final destination for garbage from all over the world, and often garbage doesn’t just wind up in the water, but in and on the bodies of dolphins, seals, whales, turtles, birds, and fish.

While any garbage is bad news for the delicate ocean ecosystems around the world, one of the worst offenders are the plastic rings that come around six-packs of cans.

These soft but tough plastic rings are transparent, which means that in the water, animals don’t even see them. They end up tangled in the loops, which can cut into their skin and constrict parts of their bodies, leading to serious injury and death.

While some animals are lucky enough to have someone there to stand up and help them, as the turtle that was hopelessly tangled in nylon fishing line did, thousands of others aren’t so lucky.

But things might just change, especially on the plastic six-pack ring front. Thanks to an invention that’s so simple it’s genius, we might be able to make all this senseless pain a thing of the past. Read on to find out how!

[H/T: BoredPanda]

Thumbnail Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ocean pollution is a deadly, serious issue, and it causes the unnecessary deaths of millions of animals of all kinds.

Everything from tiny shellfish to giant whales are affected by the garbage we accumulate and toss.

The litter might seem small and insignificant, but it adds up. Garbage patches, formed by the convergence of ocean currents carrying debris, are enormous in size.

It’s all bad, but the worst are objects that tangle around animals’ bodies and can strangle them or prevent them from eating.

Fishing line and nets are the biggest offenders, and plastic six-pack rings, the kind that keep soda or beer cans together, are not far behind.

 

This is an example of a turtle that became entangled in a six-pack ring.

With the plastic restricting the growth of her shell, the tissue grew around it, causing her to have this deformed shape.

The turtle, named Peanut, was rescued and rehabilitated and has happily lived a full, healthy life, with her image serving as a warning about what pollution can do.

But millions of other animals? Not so lucky.

Plastic debris have devastating effects on the health of our oceans, and while we might think of the oceans as being far away, they’re not at all.

We rely on them for food, energy, and oxygen. Polluting them doesn’t just hurt other life forms, it hurts humans, too.

 

And if you don’t think the repercussions are immediate, imagine fishing for dinner and pulling this out.

But in a world where it seems everything is made of plastic, what can be done?

Well, a major step might come from an unexpected place.

Florida-based beermaker Saltwater Brewery has come up with a way to reduce the plastic waste created by six-pack rings by developing a version of it that’s not only 100 percent biodegradable, but also edible!

Edible if you’re a sea creature, that is. While you can technically eat them, it’s not recommended!

The cardboard-like rings are made from barley and wheat, the by-products of the beer-making process. So the company already has the materials. Convenient!

Americans drink some 6.3 billion gallons of beer a year, and half of that beer comes out of cans. So if we can change the packaging, we can make a huge difference.

And it will make a scene like this a lot less terrifying.

If a turtle, for example, decides to take a munch on one of these, it can digest it — and get lots of fiber in the process.

And if no one comes by for a snack? It simply breaks back down on the ocean floor.

And it functions just like the plastic six-pack rings.

Together with We Believers, an advertising and creative firm, Saltwater Brewery launched their new packaging.

The brewery also donates a portion of its proceeds to various marine environmental organizations.

With a little luck, maybe other companies will rethink their packaging, too, and make the world a little kinder to our animal friends.

Watch the video below to see how the six-pack rings are made, and how they can make a huge difference!

If you can’t get to biodegradable six-pack rings, be sure to always cut open your plastic ones to prevent critters from getting snagged. And remember to recycle!

Please SHARE if you think all animals deserve our love, respect, and protection!

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