Ten Minutes for the Mollusks

Sometimes it feels like there’s nothing we can do to help the environment. We tell ourselves it’s big, and we’re small. We learn about the mollusks struggling to survive, and we feel powerless to help them.

But just like mollusks, humans have evolved superpowers.

Your smallest decisions have big repercussions, ones that affect your neighborhood, your country and the world.

Make the wrong decisions, and they start adding up.

Make the right decisions, and you can change the future.

It doesn’t take long. In just ten minutes, you can start making decisions that add up to a world with less pollution, cleaner water, fresher air, and a bigger family of animals.

And if everyone around you does ten minutes too?


So here we go. Ten minutes for your neighborhood. Ten minutes for your country. Ten minutes for the world.

(Imagine what we could do with more than ten minutes.)

1 | Ten Minutes: Reduce Junk Mail

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The junk mail marching down your street and streaming in through your mailbox every day is connected to the forests, the rivers, and the oceans.

79.1 billion pieces of junk mail are sent to households in the USA every year. Your house probably gets around 625 pieces.

And here’s the thing: throwing that junk mail away isn’t free. You pay for it. And ‘away’ isn’t a real place.

Over half of your junk mail goes straight into the 19.47 million tons of paper that ends up in US landfills annually.

Our brains aren’t wired for big numbers. This is how much 1 million is. And a ton? Well, it can take up to 24 trees to make a single ton of paper. 24 x 19.47 million tons… let’s just say it’s a lot of trees.

So junk mail is expensive and irritating for us. But for the mollusks, it’s also deadly.

Cutting down trees destroys the homes of snails and slugs like the leopard slug. Toxic run off from paper factories and landfill runs into the rivers and oceans, polluting the homes of the clams, the squids and the octopuses.

In the future, junk mail could get deadly for us, too.

In just ten minutes, you can stop your junk mail. Here’s how.

The Actions:

Sign the National Do Not Mail List


This list is run by a large direct marketing company, DirectMail.

There's actually no single “do not mail” list in the USA, but signing a few of the big, reputable lists that represent big direct marketing associations and groups can stop you junk mail.

Register with the DMA


The Direct Marketing Association’s customers are responsible for 80% of the direct marketing in the USA.

This site lets you choose what catalogues and marketing mail you want to get. Or, you can take your name off their entire list.

Sign Opt Out Prescreen

Free for 5 years. 4 MINUTES

Financial services send more junk mail than anyone else.

Opt Out Prescreen blocks your information from being sent to credit card companies without your permission. That lowers your risk of identity theft, and stops those endless ‘pre-approved’ credit offers.

See? You just reduced toxic run-off and protected the mollusks' homes

Keep Exploring

  • Junk mail isn't the only paper product you're throwing away without using. Read about what designer Adam Mickelson is doing to make packaging... disappear!  
  • Follow the mysterious journeys of everyday things like junk mail and packaging in Cradle to Cradle.
  • Invertebrates like mollusks make up 97% of the animal species on earth. From bumblebees to butterflies, many are losing their habitats. To learn more, check out the work of the Xerces Society

2 | Ten Minutes: Own Your Plastic


We discovered the mollusk’s ancient past by digging up the fossils they left behind.

What are us humans leaving behind? A planet of plastic.

We only started making plastic a hundred years or so ago, but now we’re obsessed. We drink out of plastic, we sleep on plastic, we cook in it, we brush our teeth with it, we wash our faces with tiny plastic beads.

Even our underpants are plastic! Check the labels on the fabrics in your home. Rayon, polyester, lycra, nylon, spandex and acrylic are all made out of plastic.

8 times out of 10, the plastic you throw away goes into landfill, or the oceans.

And here’s the thing: plastic doesn’t biodegrade - it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. At the current rate we throw plastic away, scientists predict there will be more plastic in the oceans by weight than fish in the year 2050.

Fish, birds and mollusks are all eating plastic. And that means you are, too.

Does your life depend on drinking out of plastic bottles and wearing plastic underpants? The lives of many mollusks do. And in the future, yours might, too.

In ten minutes, you can say no to plastic. Here’s how.

The Actions:

Say no to plastic bottles


This is the easiest plastic to say no to.

Hit repeat, and it adds up fast.

Do it for ten minutes, and it means 600 fewer water bottles in the environment.

Saying no to plastic water bottles is also good for your wallet. 

Drinking your recommended eight glasses of water from the tap each year? .49 cents. From the bottle? $1,400.

Count the plastic: obvious plastics


Go a step further.

Over one day, take a few seconds to be aware of every piece of plastic you touch.

The obvious plastics will only take a couple of minutes.

Do you need that plastic straw in the restaurant? 

Can you cover that leftover food with a plate instead of plastic?

Carry your own reusable bag?

Count the plastic: hidden plastics


Look around you for the hidden plastics, like plastic fabrics, and explore how they affect the environment when they break down.

Every time you wash plastic fabrics, millions of tiny pieces of plastic called microfibers get washed down the drain. Companies like Patagonia have teamed up with scientists to investigate what's happening with microfiber pollution from plastic fabrics.

From installing a filter on your washing machine to using a guppy friend, learn how to minimize microfibers here.


see? you just started to understand the system you're leaving behind

Keep Exploring


3 | Ten Minutes: Look in the Mirror


“Look in the mirror. Consider your talents, and think about how you might use them to make a difference. Some have artistic skills, others are good with numbers or have a way with words. Everyone has power to make a difference as an individual, or by joining the company of others who share a common goal. The key is in knowing that what you do matters, including doing nothing!” – Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder, Mission Blue

If you found the Smallest Mollusk Museum, and then ended up here, you’re already a curious person.

You have the ability to look for things other people don’t – snail trails on city streets, the world beneath the water, and of course, tiny science museums. You’re made for big adventures.

The last thing you can do in ten minutes? Look in the mirror, then go out into the world.

From the Gowanus River in NYC to the straits of the Pacific Ocean and beyond, people are already out there, exploring what’s next.

There are lots of groups you can become a part of who are working for fresh air, clean water, and a better home for us all, mollusks and monkeys. You can support them by donating. Or you can go further, and use your own superpowers.

And remember: change is cumulative. We are the things we do every day.

You decide what’s coming next.


Mission Blue and Dr Sylvia Earle

When Dr Sylvia Earle was born in 1935, women were discouraged from entering science. Today, Dr Earle is one of the most respected biologists in the world, and she’s spent tens of thousands of hours under water.

Dr Earle knows science, and adventures, and how to make a difference.

Less than six percent of the world’s oceans are protected, so Dr Earle’s organization is fighting for “Hope Spots”: marine areas that are protected like national parks.

Algalita and Captain Charles Moore

In 1997, Captain Charles Moore sailed through an area of the Pacific Ocean that should have been pristine. Instead, he spent days sailing through a soup of plastic.

Two years later, Captain Moore went back with a team of scientists to study the area. To everyone's shock, they discovered that tiny pieces of plastics outweighed zooplankton like baby octopuses in the ocean by six to one. 

Check out Algalita Marine Research and Education.

Majora Carter + Sustainable South Bronx

Majora Carter's work reminds us that nature isn't "out there" - it's all around us.

You don't need to go anywhere to "visit" nature. You live in it.

From turning illegal dumping sites on the Bronx River into bustling parks all the way through to creating jobs that connect us to the environments we live in, Majora has started some incredible movements. 

You can too. The mollusks are waiting.


See? In ten minutes, you just connected with people who are changing the world, and began an adventure

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