Trash and Pollution


Did you know? Trash Can Kill

An estimated 60%-80% of all marine debris is plastic. Plastic does not biodegrade in salt water but will break into small particle pieces that remain in the ocean for hundreds of years. Animals will often eat plastic, mistaking it for food, and can actually starve to death because their stomachs are full of worthless trash. Specifically, plastic bags (which look like jelly fish in the water) can be mistaken for food by sea birds, marine mammals, fish, and sea turtles. In 2010, a California gray whale washed up dead on the shore of Puget Sound. Researchers found a pair of pants, a golf ball, duct tape, surgical gloves, and more than 20 plastic bags in its stomach. In 2008, a sperm whale washed up at Point Reyes, California with fishing net, rope, and plastic bags in its stomach and in 2013 a sperm whale washed up on the coast of Spain with over 37 pounds of plastic in its stomach.

The amount of plastic trash that can be found in the ocean is overwhelming. In the Pacific Ocean there is an island of floating trash that is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and is referred to as the “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. Most of this is plastic and comes from trash getting washed into the ocean from the continents of Asia and North America. The amount of marine debris is increasing rapidly in the Pacific Ocean and in just 10 years the plastic debris in “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” increased 5 fold, during 1997-2007.

What can you do to stop the increase of trash in the ocean?

  • If you see trash on the street, pick it up
  • Use reusable bags
  • Use reusable water bottles, and lunch containers, refrain from plastic bags
  • If you have to use plastic bottles, make sure you recycle them
  • Do not buy things in Styrofoam
  • Cut plastic six pack rings before discarding
  • Get or friends to ditch their plastic water bottles for reusable ones

Last updated: July 12, 2016

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