THE PLASTIC PROBLEM: PLASTIC POLLUTION AND ITS THREAT TO WILDLIFE
Plastic waste is a growing issue as 85% or more of plastic consumed in the United States ends up in landfills. Not only that, but microplastics are being released into our ground and water from our washing machines, cleaning products, and larger plastics that break down but don’t disappear. We’ve talked about microplastic’s effects on the human body, but how does plastic pollution affect wildlife?
PLASTIC’S EFFECTS ON MARINE ANIMALS
About 11 million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans yearly, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. We are currently on a trajectory for plastic waste and pollution to continue to increase over the next 20 years. It is predicted that our oceans and waterways will soon contain more plastic waste than fish, which has an adverse effect not only on their homes but also inside their bodies.
Turtles, seabirds, and fish consume plastic, mistaking them for food and creating a deadly outcome due to choking or intestinal blockage. Plastics and microplastics also attract harmful chemicals that can cause sickness, disease, infertility, or even death when ingested. These microplastics and chemicals also make their way up the food chain affecting the other animals that might have otherwise avoided eating plastic. Eventually, this makes its way back into our human diets. While the effects of microplastics on the human body have not yet been revealed, we can be sure that we will suffer similar consequences to our marine friends.
PLASTIC’S EFFECTS ON LAND ANIMALS
Like marine life, land animals often ingest plastic waste, choke, and have intestinal blockages. Cases of animal deaths due to plastic consumption have increased over the last several years and are expected to continue.
Land animals have also often become entangled, entrapped, or impaled by plastic waste, causing detrimental harm to their bodies and overall wellbeing. It can impair their ability to walk, fly, hunt, forage for food, or even consume food altogether.
Microplastics don’t just affect marine animals. They are leaching into the soil from local water sources and landfills and affecting vegetation and creatures that cultivate the ground.
WHAT CAN I DO?
While all of this information might feel pretty discouraging, there are action steps that we can all take today that will make a difference for tomorrow. We have the power to work together to save the ecosystem from the effects of our plastic pollution. Here are some ways you can make a difference:
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE You’ve heard it repeatedly, but it remains the simplest way to create less plastic waste. Reduce your plastic usage by buying reusable containers, avoiding single-use plastic items, and shopping sustainably. Reuse plastic bags and containers as much as possible so that fewer plastic items end up in the trash. And finally, recycle everything you can! GET INVOLVED WITH ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS Numerous organizations are already doing fantastic work to reduce plastic waste and educate others about the dangers of plastic pollution. Check out these seven awesome organizations protecting the oceans! INSTALL A FILTROL One load of laundry can produce thousands of microfibers (microplastics measuring 5mm or less). A one-time investment of a Filtrol washing machine filter can prevent up to 89% of microplastics from leaving your home and invading water sources.