An Australian Darter sits on a rock spreading their wings, with the sea in the background.

3 simple ways to help animals this Earth Day.

Even in remote locations, plastic is posing a deadly threat to wildlife. Read on for impactful ways to reduce your plastic waste that you might not have thought of yet!

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated April 4, 2024

It’s no secret that plastic is ending up in places it was never intended to; on streets and beaches, in waterways, and devastatingly, in the stomachs of vulnerable animals. The theme of this upcoming Earth Day (22 April 2024) is Planet vs. Plastics, with the aim of reducing and eliminating plastics for the health of the planet, and the humans and non-human animals who share it.

Here are three simple but powerful actions you can take this Earth Day (and beyond!) to help shape a kinder future for everyone:

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A baby green turtle on the sand.

1. Join or start a local clean up group.

When plastic used in our everyday lives is ‘thrown away’, it often ends up buried in landfills or littered in the environment. Whether plastic remains intact or breaks down into smaller ‘micro’ plastics, it poses a deadly threat to animals who may become entangled in it or ingest it. It’s now known that seabirds are accidentally feeding plastic to their young; their babies are dying with stomachs that are full, just with nothing that is good for them.

Stopping as much plastic as we can from entering habitats is critical. Many cities have rubbish collection groups made up of dedicated volunteers who help prevent plastic from land-based activities from finding its way into waterways. Find out if there is a group in your local area, and if not, you could consider starting your own!

A hand holding pieces of broken plastic rubbish found on the beach.
The Elwood Beach Patrol clean up crew with the rubbish they've collected.
Elwood Beach Patrol

Pictured right: Elwood Beach Patrol. Beach Patrol volunteers come together regularly to clean local beaches and streets – not only removing kilos upon kilos of trash from the environment, but also inspiring passersby to think about the impacts of waste and ways to help.

Another option is to collect whatever rubbish you can yourself when going for a walk or on a trip to the beach. The rubbish might not be ‘yours’, but it’s definitely not from the turtles, seabirds and dolphins! Every piece picked up from our streets, parks and beaches, is one less piece polluting habitats and endangering animals.

Little tip: for safety, bring along a rubbish bag or bucket, gloves, and a grabber or tongs.

2. Eat kindly for those who call the oceans home.

Gear discarded by the fishing industry – known as ‘ghost gear’ – makes up most large plastic littering the aquatic environment, according to reports. One study estimated the figure to be as high as 70% (by weight) of macroplastics floating on the sea’s surface to be related to fishing.

As well as the fish who suffer immensely when being caught and killed by the fishing industry, ‘non target’ animals like seals are at risk of prolonged suffering and death from entanglement in lines and netting. Given fish farming also poses a deadly threat to seals – as they are shot and bombed to deter them from these underwater factory farms – the kindest option is to leave fish in the sea where they belong.

A seal with fishing line tightly constricted around their neck.
Beer-battered Tofu with Tartare Sauce plated up with wedges.

As consumer demand for ‘seafood’ fuels the fishing industry, being aware of its contribution to ocean pollution – and animal suffering – can make us more conscious consumers. Thankfully, opting for ocean-friendly food has never been easier! There is an abundance of tasty and nutritious ‘seafood’ alternatives to enjoy – from the beer-battered tofu ‘fish’ pictured above to tasty ‘crab cakes’ – that are inspired by the sea, while also being kinder to it.

Want to learn more about plant-based eating? Order your free Veg Starter Kit today.


3. Go plastic-free whenever possible.

According to estimates, around half of all plastic produced is single-usecreated to be used just once, and then thrown away, as a result of our culture of fast-paced consumption.

Though recycling is a step in the right direction, what is even better for the planet is cutting plastic out altogether whenever it’s possible to do so.

The Animals Australia 'live kindly' reusable shopping bag over a person's shoulder at the markets.
Black drink bottle with 'Be kind' and the AA logo, next to reusable coffee cup with 'Choose kindness' printed on the black band in the middle of the cup. Reusable bamboo cutlery set with straw and straw cleaner is sitting in the coffee cup and the carry pouch for the set is lying in front. Pouch says 'Eat kindly' and has the AA logo printed on it

We can limit the plastic in our lives by using reusable bags, drink bottles, coffee cups and cutlery (these are great items to keep in your bag and/or car!) and shopping at local markets or bulk food stores where reusable bags, containers, and jars can be used. When plastic might be unavoidable, always ensure the packaging is disposed of or recycled correctly.


Helping animals this Earth Day, and beyond.

With small but powerful actions, we can leave smaller footprints on our planet. By filling our plates with ocean-friendly food, avoiding single-use plastics, and disposing of rubbish properly (even if it isn’t ours!), we can shape a world that is cleaner, and kinder, for all.

Not that you need another reason to consider your plastic use for our animal friends, but a little uplifting story can never go astray. Check out this heartwarming video of two fish friends sticking together when one of them is being rescued from entanglement in a discarded fishing net.

Whether animals are big or small, cute or quirky, or living on land or in the sea, they think, feel, have friends, and of course, deserve to live in a world without the threat of plastic pollution.