Let’s get real: Humans are trash ?️ to other animals when they throw their garbage ?️ on the ground.

Birds get their beaks wrapped or legs and wings tangled up in discarded fishing line. Animals step in gum, which can become matted in their fur or feathers ?. And hungry animals desperate for even just a few crumbs often get their heads stuck in discarded cans, cups , and jars.

Animals suffer from the carelessness of humans ?—and it’s time that we started taking care of the only planet we call home. And we could all use some tips on cleaning up our act so that animals can go on living their best lives without getting entangled in discarded plastic six-pack rings or getting their heads stuck in jars.

Western Gull With Wire Around Foot. Added red circle for emphasis. | docentjoyce | CC by 2.0 

1. Rinse out all cans and then put the tops inside them (so animals won’t cut their tongues!). Crush the open end of the can as flat as you can.

Welcome To My Humble Abode | Jackie | CC BY 2.0 
2. Cut open empty cardboard and plastic containers so that squirrels and other small animals can’t get their faces or heads trapped in them. If you have empty jars, be sure to scrub them out and cap them before putting them into the recycling bin or trash.

3. Cut apart all sections of plastic six-pack rings, including the inner diamonds.

Wikipedia Commons 

4. Choose paper bags at the grocery store, or better yet, take your own reusable canvas bags, which help prevent wildlife habitats from being destroyed.5Don’t use plastic straws. If you really need a straw, try a reusable metal or glass one Have you seen the video of the turtle with the straw being pulled out of his bloody nose?! ?

6. Be sure to cover up your garbage and throw away all items in a bin that can’t be accessed by animals looking for food. Seal trash cans using bungee cords on lids.

Nothing like a bin full of trash. | Steve Baker | CC BY-ND 2.0 

7Recycle plastic. Every year, around 8 million metric tons of plastic, including fishing gear, go into the ocean. Discarded plastic fishing nets often remain intact and can travel long distances, entrapping and killing not only fish ? but also marine mammals ? and birds ?. Recycling is one of the best ways to combat this huge problem, since plastic debris is the cause of more than 100 million marine deaths every year. (And of course, those who fish should help protect animals and the environment by stopping.)

With 7 billion peeps on the planet and counting, it’s important that we take responsibility for making the Earth a safe and comfortable—and less trashy—home for all. Ready to do more? Check out these tips for fighting climate change.