The Problem with Plastic

You can help reduce plastic pollution by recycling plastic litter.

A giant island of trash twice the size of Texas whirls in the Pacific Ocean. Currents pull plastic bottles, bags, and other kinds of trash from streams and lakes all the way out to the ocean. This Earth Day, April 22nd, is a good time to think about the problems of plastic pollution and what to do about it.

Plastic pollution is different from other kinds of pollution because plastic never goes away. Other materials are biodegradable [capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other organisms]. This means they break down, or decompose, into the different parts that make them up. Plastic doesn’t decompose. It just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic. Much of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has broken down into tiny, microscopic pieces that make the water into a soupy mess that is very hard to clean up. This plastic also harms animals in the ocean that eat it.

What can people do to help fight plastic pollution? Follow the four R’s: reduce how much plastic gets used, refuse items with plastic in them such as a straw at a restaurant, reuse plastic products, and recycle plastic. Beyond individual efforts, people can organize group projects to help clean up and recycle places littered with plastic, particularly near rivers and streams the could eventually carry plastics into the ocean. There are also many organizations you can join or support that are trying to help with the environment

What About You? What things do you want to do to reduce plastic pollution?

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