Earth Day is April 22, and this year's theme focuses on plastic pollution.
Did you know that between 4 and 12 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year? Plastics don't decompose like other forms of waste, so they just hang around for years and years (and years and years and years). Often, plastic waste is eaten by seabirds or other marine animals, which is incredibly harmful.
To learn more about plastic pollution and what you can do to help end it, check out the Earth Day Network's Action Toolkit.
We've also created a YouTube Playlist with videos about plastic pollution in our oceans, like the one below. Watch it, and then head to the playlist to see the more.
After you've learned about the problem, learn about what YOU can do to help end plastic pollution.
Here are 6 ways to reduce ocean plastic pollution (from the Oceanic Society):
1. Reduce Your Use of Single-Use Plastics: Single-use plastics include plastic bags, water bottles, straws, cups, utensils, dry cleaning bags, take-out containers, and any other plastic items that are used once and then discarded. The best way to do this is by a) refusing any single-use plastics that you do not need (e.g. straws, plastic bags, takeout utensils), and b) purchasing, and carrying with you, reusable versions of those products.
2. Recycle: Recycling helps keep plastics out of rivers and oceans and reduces the amount of new plastic that is made.
3. Participate in a River or Beach Cleanup: Here in the Roaring Fork Valley, we may not be close to the beach, but we certainly have miles of beautiful rivers we can protect. Whenever you see litter, pick it up and properly dispose of it.
4. Support Bans: Many cities around the world have enacted bans on single use plastic bags, takeout containers, and bottles. You can support the adoption of such policies in your community. A local CMC student is pushing for a plastic bag ban in Glenwood Springs!
5. Avoid Microbeads: Tiny plastic particles, called “microbeads,” have become a growing source of ocean plastic pollution in recent years. Microbeads are found in some face scrubs, toothpastes, and bodywashes, and they readily enter our oceans and waterways through our sewer systems, and affect hundreds of marine species. Avoid products containing plastic microbeads by looking for “polythelene” and “polypropylene” on the ingredient labels of your cosmetic products.
6. Spread the Word: Tell your friends and family about ways they can help reduce plastic pollution!
Want to learn more? Check out these books:
And, if you want to take it to the max, learn about how Lauren Singer lives a "zero-waste" life!
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