Planetary Plastic Plague

June 04, 2017 Posted by: K.A. Holbrook
Park Ranger on a beach

“There is a great future in plastics,” was a quote from the movie The Graduate (1967).  Well, the future is here and I have one key word for you today that may actually destroy the future:  PLASTICS.  Plastics are made from petroleum products and many synthetic plastics do not biodegrade. Plastics and their decomposition contaminate the world we live in with toxic chemicals and carcinogens. THEY JUST REMAIN.  Forever.
“Ya, ya,” you might say. “I’ve heard this all before.”  But, wait. There really are some startling new statistics out.  Did you realize that we have made enough plastics since Baby Boomers entered the world to wrap the entire world in cellophane?   Yes, the earth could look like a shrink-wrapped globe dangling in space.  Check out for up-to-date stats on the plastic plague.
Let’s bring this plastic plague closer to home.  Marine debris includes plastics that are washed into our lakes.  They can remain in our waters for hundreds of years.  Animals on the land and in the water get entangled in plastic bands, lines, and other marine debris. The bulk of plastics in our waters comes from the land.  Birds and fish consume minute quantities of microplastics.  Complete with unhealthy toxin, the microplastics are hazardous to animals that consume them as they move up the food chain.
Billed filled with bags of plastic found in the waters of Katmai National Park

5 Ways You Can Help Stem the Tide of Plastics from Entering our Waters
  1. Pick up plastic litter on land before it washes into streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. 
  2. STOP using plastic bottled water.  The FDA actually has stricter rules for tap water than for bottled water. Use ecofriendly water containers that are not made of plastic.
  3. Bring your own shopping bags to the stores. Who has not seen the plastic migration of grocery bags that wonder with the wind and water?  They end up dangling in trees, clogging the insides of turtles, and at the bottom of our lakes. Billions are produced in our country every year.  However, some cities are actually banning their use or now charging a fee for them.
  4. Recycle consistently.  Call 1-800-CLEANUP to find your nearest center.
  5. Find alternatives to plastics and avoid products that use them.  Use metal, glass, ceramics, or pottery instead of Styrofoam, plastic silverwear, cups and plates.
So what I am saying is (sorry, Mr. Robinson), “Plastics are NOT the future.” Catch my drift?

conserve, shoresandislands, filmaffects, @NOADDebris

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Last updated: June 4, 2017

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