Plastic: The Less We Throw Away, The More Animals We Save

 

Every time you throw away a piece of plastic, it is hurting the environment in some way or another. You may not know it, but just a single plastic straw can damage our oceans and impact sea life.  Those plastic forks and spoons you might use for a birthday party or brunch can take away the lives of many living things. 

Americans create and dispose of approximately 10.5 million tons of plastic a year, but sadly only 1 to 2% of that is recycled. The other 98-99% that gets thrown away is put either into the ocean or the landfills.

When garbage is thrown into the oceans, it puts so many animal species in jeopardy. The amount of waste--most of it being plastic--that is thrown into the ocean every year is estimated to be up to 14 billion pounds. Sea otters get plastic wrapped around their paws and make it impossible for them to move unless they can work themselves free. Sea turtles mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish--one of their main food sources--and eat them. According to National Geographic Kids, it’s estimated that about half of all marine mammals have eaten or gotten trapped by plastic. They sometimes die. And sea creatures are not the only living things that are harmed by plastic being thrown into the ocean. Birds are also affected. If a bird sees a piece of plastic that appears to be a fish, then the bird might eat it and then the bird is at risk of dying. 

While throwing away plastic is not eco friendly, not all plastics are bad. There are many things that are made with plastic that improve our world or save lives. For example, organic batteries, medical equipment and supplies, and important safety gear for emergency workers is all made with plastic. We don’t want to get rid of it; we just want to use it responsibly by swapping disposable items with reusable ones and recycling whenever possible. And most of all, we need to stop throwing plastic into the ocean.

 

To help keep a healthier and cleaner ocean here are some ways to help!

  • Reuse, reduce, recycle! If you can choose between reusable plastics/ other materials and disposable plastics, choose reuse!

  • Keep trash and litter in trash cans, and you can try to reduce your amount of trash too! You can do this by bringing reusable bags to the grocery store and by recycling anything that you can. 

  • You can also sign up to do beach and river clean ups in many different places. This way you can help get rid of trash before it reaches the oceans and make the Earth a little prettier, too!