07/19/2012 06:04 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Oceans of Garbage: Why People Are Eating Their Own Trash

You've heard the saying before: "You are what you eat." Whether you've heard it from your mom, or your doctor or a yoga-practicing friend, the saying actually originates from a French philosopher in the 1800s who didn't intend for it to be taken quite so literally. Then back in 1942, nutritionist Victor Lindlahr published a book called You Are What You Eat: How to Win and Keep Health with Diet. And several years before he published his book, Lindlahr would tout the phrase on a radio show that he hosted in the late '30s. These seem to be the earliest vehicles that drove the phrase into our public consciousness here in America. Fast forward many decades and the literal meaning has manifested itself in a very unappetizing way: People are eating their own trash.

Why are people eating their own trash? Well this infographic from the creative students over at illustrates how pervasive the problem is and how we've quickly created a recipe for disaster.

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Knowing that fish supply the greatest percentage of the world's protein consumed by humans it is imperative that we recognize the need to keep our oceans healthy and the marine food web clean. So you may be asking yourself: "What can I do?" The good news is we can all do a little something and when we do it together we create a sea of change. Here are five easy things everyone can do to take action and get us closer to trash-free seas.

Tap it! Drink tap water from a reusable bottle.
Can it! Use a trash can with a lid.
Demand it! Write your legislators asking for ocean policies that address ocean trash.
Reuse it! Take a canvas, reusable shopping bag for groceries, picnics and more.
Remove it! Organize a clean-up of your local rivers, streams and beaches.

The most effective way to stop the morass of plastic pollution in our oceans is to make sure it never even reaches the water in the first place. By being mindful of simple choices we can ALL (individuals, companies, and governments) make a big difference.