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Sperm Whale
Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) and plastic bag, Pico Island, Atlantic Ocean. Image: Franco Banfi
© naturepl.com / Franco Banfi / WWF

As part of Whales | Tohorā, the Australian Museum has partnered with WWF-Australia to change our plastics habits and help you change yours.

It’s no news that plastic is deadly. It’s littering our sidewalks, finding its way to riverbeds, onto beaches and into delicate ocean ecosystems. In fact, 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans every year.

Globally, 100,000 marine mammals die annually as a result of plastic pollution. This includes whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea lions.

There are two principle ways that encountering marine debris can be fatal for these creatures: ingestion (eating) or entanglement in plastic based fishing gear.

It’s estimated that 56% of the planet’s whale, dolphin and porpoise species have consumed plastic.

Meanwhile, discarded fishing nets make up an estimated 640,000 tonnes of the 8 million tonnes of plastic that enters the oceans every year. Animals can drown when entangled, or if the plastic debris is wrapped too tightly around their bodies it can cut deep into their skin, leaving the animals open to the risk of deadly infections.

Every year Australia dumps 130,000 tonnes of plastic into its oceans, and this goes on to indiscriminately kill marine mammals, birds and other creatures.

That’s why it’s so important that we all do our bit to reduce our use and dispose of waste correctly.

As a partner of WWF-Australia's #ReduceYourUse campaign, the Australian Museum has made some simple but significant changes to how we use and provide plastic:

  • Museum cafés have replaced plastic-packaged drinks with glass.
  • Children's drink bottles have been replaced with Tetra-Pak options, which are 75% cardboard and have a smaller carbon footprint. Read about it in this Guardian article.
  • Museum cafés no longer provide plastic straws, and all takeaway cutlery and stirrers are made of FSC-approved timber.
  • Museum cafés are taking part in the Responsible Cafes initiative, offering customers a discount on their hot drinks when they provide their own reusable cup.
  • Lolly bags are now presented in biodegradable cellophane bags.
  • The AM Store provides paper bags with all purchases, as well as a range of reusable bags available for purchase.

What can you do?

  • Recycle everything you can.
  • Use your own cutlery, food containers and KeepCups when getting takeaway, rather than using disposable alternatives.
  • Participate in beach or community clean-ups.
  • Tell the waiter to ‘hold the straw’ when purchasing drinks.

Most importantly, pledge to #ReduceYourUse today!


WWF Australia