A shipping container filled with over four million LEGO pieces fell overboard off the coast of Cornwall in 1997, and they've been washing up on nearby beaches ever since. Amusingly, the pieces are almost all nautical themed, ranging from octopus to diving tanks to flippers. As a fan of the mid-90's Aquazone and Divers themes, finding these would make for a pretty great day at the beach. Also included in the shipment were such classic themes as FrightKnights, Pirates, WildWest, Roboforce, Time Cruisers, Outback, and Police. I drooled over all these in the catalogs back then! Apparently dragons and octopi are the holy grail pieces, rare and exciting enough to attract collectors after heavy storms.
Unfortunately, like any plastic waste, all this LEGO is harmful to the marine environment, especially to animals like seabirds who will eat the colorful parts. While containers dropping off ships are nothing new, and I can think of any number of items that would be worse to dump in the sea, plastic never degrades and acumulates in huge gyres filled with trash. This isn't limited just to marine animals either, since we have lost track of 99% of the plastic in the ocean. It's likely that fish are eating it, but we really don't know where it's all ending up.
So what can you do about it? First of all, stop using so much plastic. Drink cups, plastic bags, cut down on anything that has an eco-friendly reusable alternative. Of course, there are plenty of plastics that you can't avoid, so recycle whenever you can. Check your local municipality's recycling policy to learn what kinds of plastic and cardboard they do and do not accept. It's just as important (and complicated!) to not recycle things that can't be processed properly. And, if you live near a shoreline, volunteer to help clean it up! Who knows, you might even find some LEGO.