Plastic bags are the second most common plastic debris in the ocean. Once exposed to sun, wind and waves, plastic bags break down into smaller pieces. Fish and birds mistake the plastic bits for plankton and consume them for food. As a result, plastic scraps are poisoning wildlife and the fish that humans depend on.
Petroleum-based plastic are not biodegradable. They break into smaller pieces until they are consumed by animals, sink to the bottom or wash up on a distant shoreline. As a result, the ocean is filling up with trash and plastic debris. Six times more plastic than zooplankton is found by weight in certain areas, and the trend is increasing.
Not only is this a problem in the ocean, scientists have documented large concentrations of plastic debris in the Great Lakes system. You can help by bringing your own reusable bags to the store. If you do use plastic bags, be sure to dispose of them properly by recycling them or securely placing them in a waste bin. Eliminating or reducing your overall plastic use will prevent pollution in your local environment.
Action Tip: Refuse plastic bags at the store, instead bring your own reusable bags to take home your purchases in style and safety for the environment.
Sources: NOAA, “Marine Debris Program”, http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/; Sanibel Sea School, “The Coastal Classroom Room: Plastics in the Ocean”, http://sanibelseaschool.org/classroom/plastic-in-the-ocean; Algalita, “Algalita Marine Research Lab – Sample Analysis”, http://www.algalita.org/research/sea_lab.html; Dau, J. “The Great Lakes Have Some of the World’s Most Concentrated Plastic Pollution”, Great Lakes Echo, http://greatlakesecho.org/2012/10/29/the-great-lakes-have-some-of-the-worlds-greatest-concentrations-of-plastic-pollution/