Plastic manufacturing and subsequent accumulation is a worldwide crisis impacting our health, natural environment, and the tens of thousands of vulnerable marine animals that have been observed suffering from entanglement or ingestion of plastics.
From a grocery store trip to applying lotions, our plastic consumption is omnipresent. Due to their chemical composition, all plastics take from 450-1,000 years to biodegrade, many cannot be recycled at all, and none can be recycled more than a few times. This deadly fusion – combined with the obscenely high rate of production which involves burning fossil fuels and ensuing greenhouse gas emissions – has made plastic a global environmental tragedy with disastrous consequences for both humans and wildlife.
Already, plastic waste is disrupting marine food webs and affecting species. It is found in the guts of more than 90% of seabirds, the stomachs of over half of the world’s sea turtles, and is tangling and choking whales, sharks, and other marine mammals. Even “biodegradable” plastic is not safe — it usually joins other garbage in the landfill instead of being sent to facilities that can properly recycle it. Microplastics, or plastic fragments from clothes, cosmetics, and industrial processes, have been seeping into all of Earth’s layers, from the pristine peaks of Mount Everest to the remotest floors of the deep ocean. This burgeoning environmental health epidemic spanning across the food chain will affect all organisms, including people. Before Earth becomes completely plastic-saturated, we must unify and mobilize as stewards of the planet to halt this spread.
Through education, research, and policy, we here at Turtle Island Restoration Network are actively engaged in treating our modern day plastic addiction. Our anti-plastic campaign is heralding the fight against prolific single-use plastic. Through educational programs in schools and awareness events we are spreading the message about the dangerous nature of this material. In California, we are promoting and advocating for legislation to phase out single-use plastic and eventually ban it altogether. But we can’t do it alone…
Consumer choice has an especially large capacity to stop plastic manufacturers and the continued production of items with microplastics. Sign up for our newsletter and action alerts to stay informed about plastic alternatives and reusable options. From bringing your own bag to the grocery store to refusing a plastic straw, you can prevent these hazardous materials from ending up in the bodies of marine mammals and taking complete hold over the natural world.