Every year the amount of plastic humans consume rises. It is estimated that about 19 billion plastic grocery bags are distributed every year in California. With the constant rise in consumption, the amount of plastic that is put into the oceans also increases. This waste is contaminating the ocean with billions of tons of plastic, which greatly harms sea turtles and other marine animals. To address this growing threat, the Sea Turtle Restoration Project is empowering people to reduce the use of plastic bags through our Bag the Plastics Campaign.
Wherever there are developed human communities, islands of plastic can be found offshore. Our biggest garbage dump is actually the North Pacific Gyre - a floating island of plastic twice the size of Texas.
Plastics were designed with characteristics such as strong resistance to corrosion, lightweight, and water resistance in mind; however, these same properties are responsible for their harmfulness to marine life. It may take up to 1000 years for a plastic bag to degrade, so even though we “throw them away,” plastic bags will be on this earth and in our environment for hundreds of years to come.
Plastics ingestion and entanglement cause the deaths of sea turtles and other marine animals. Floating plastic bags in the ocean appear similar to jellyfish that sea turtles feed on. Sea turtles are in danger just by trying to eat their favorite food! The ingestion of plastic can cause them to feel perpetually full and will eventually lead to malnourishment and starvation. The plastic in our waters also entangles sea turtles, which can cause them to drown.
Toxins and non-native algae species traveling with plastics through the
oceans have unknown impacts on marine animals and ecosystems. Plastics
that carry cleaning chemicals, such as bleach, often carry excess
chemicals into the oceans poisoning turtles.
By reducing the amount of plastic we release into our oceans we can
drastically decrease the number of sea turtles that are being killed due
to plastics. Every year approximately 100,000 marine animals die due to
plastic in our oceans.
Plastic produce and supermarket bags that consumers throw away after a single use often get carried away by the wind and enter waterways, and eventually, the ocean. Today, 19 billion plastic bags are distributed annually in California, and they make up almost 25% of urban waste that enters watersheds.
The ultimate goal of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project's Bag the Plastics campaign is to end the use of unneeded plastic bags in supermarkets. This will help stop new plastic waste from entering the oceans thus slowing the destruction of marine animal habitats. The first step to stopping unnecessary sea turtle deaths is to take plastic bags out of supermarkets.