Typically when we think of marine plastics we think about the things we can see: plastic grocery bags, straws, drink bottles, and maybe fishing nets.
Let’s take single-use plastic shopping bags. These bags easily end up in the ocean and waterways because their light weight allows them to be picked up by wind. Once in marine environments, bags float in a way that looks quite similar to a jellyfish, especially to the eyes of a sea turtle. It is estimated that 52% of all sea turtles globally have ingested plastic debris (Schuyler et al., 2015). Many marine animals die early deaths because of plastic consumption or being caught in plastic. Even after the animals’ death the plastic still remains, eventually becoming microplastics (see our previous post).
There are very easy ways we can reduce the amount of plastic bags which end up in the ocean. You probably already know these, so here’s a refresher. Remember the 3 Rs!:
- Reduce the need and production of single-use plastic bags by advocating for paper bags or reusable bags in grocery stores and bringing our own reusable bags as often as we can. Keep bags ready in the trunk of your car, or in your purse/bag.
- Reuse the plastic bags we already have in creative ways. Check out these ideas ranging from kitchen storage to making toy parachutes! Or you could always bring them back to the shop and use them a second time.
- Recycle these bags at large chain grocery and department stores. Many have collection bins placed outside to return plastic bags. Call your local supermarket to see if they have a collection bin.