The game stars a vaquita, a small porpoise from Mexico on the edge of extinction. Only about 30 vaquitas remain, making it the world’s most rare marine mammal. After playing, users are encouraged to sign a pledge to commit to using less plastic in the real world.
“The Big Catch,” empowered by Playmob and supported by the United Nations, is the first in a series of initiatives designed to change consumer behaviors.
“One of [our] goals is to show people the interconnectedness of the oceans with our everyday lives, and how the smallest lifestyle change can make a lasting impact towards protecting the future of our people and planet,” Daisy Kendrick, founder and CEO of We Are The Oceans, said in a statement.
An estimated 19.4 billion pounds of plastic wind up in the ocean each year, a 2015 study found. The garbage is a choking hazard for birds and marine wildlife. It also spreads toxic chemicals up the food chain, from microscopic plankton all the way to humans.
A separate anti-pollution project is focused on one plastic perpetrator in particular: drinking straws.
Strawless Ocean, an effort by the Lonely Whale Foundation, works with restaurants and coffee shops to help them ditch plastic straws and swap in paper substitutes. In the U.S. alone, Americans use around 500 million plastic straws every day, which, in worst-case scenarios, can end up lodged in the noses of turtles.
At Freehold, a hybrid work space-bar-venue in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, plastic straws are nowhere in sight. If patrons want something to slurp with, they can request paper straws, which are made by the startup Aardvark — and, fortunately, don’t immediately turn to mush.
Brice Jones, a co-owner of Freehold, said the bar previously ran through 1.5 million plastic straws a year. Now, he expects to use about 700,000 paper straws a year, though it will cost an extra $3,000.
“We wanted to be at the forefront” of the strawless movement, he said from the bar on a recent afternoon. “We want to show other restauranteurs how to make it work.”
Jones said Freehold is also looking at composting its food waste and recycling other plastic products, which Emy Kane of Lonely Whale said was the campaign’s bigger goal. Going strawless is a “gateway” for reducing other types of plastics that wind up in the ocean, she said.
Such efforts can’t come soon enough.
Scientists recently discovered that fragments of plastic waste are even showing up regions as remote as the Arctic Circle.
WATCH: Scientists have created edible water orbs that can help replace plastic bottles