Disturbing video of a seagull eating a plastic bag
The video below shows a seagull ingesting a plastic bag thinking it is food. Sadly we all know that the bird will die soon after this. Plastics and other debris are deadly to our wildlife and marine-life. Thousands upon thousands are killed every year due to ingesting our human garbage. But there are steps that can be taken to put an end to this vicious deadly cycle.
What are some of the things being done about plastics in our oceans and coastal areas?
In 1987, a law was finally passed restricting the dumping of plastics into the ocean. The Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act (MARPOL) went into effect on December 31, 1988, making it illegal for any U.S. vessel or land-based operation to dispose of plastics at sea. Prior to this time tons of garbage including plastics and other non-biodegradable items were being dumped into our oceans.
Plastics manufacturers are also investigating ways to create "degradable" plastics. Plastics take a really long time to break down as they are now. For example a plastic soda ring can take up to 400 years to biodegrade. So researchers are working with two types of degradable plastics: photodegradable and biodegradable to deal with this issue.
The current most effective method for solving the persistent plastic problem is by beach cleaning. Throughout coastal areas cleanups are being held where volunteers gather to collect trash that has washed up on the beach or has been left by beachgoers to be carried out by the surf. These beach cleanups are being coordinated by The Center for Marine Conservation. In one such beach cleanup over 3.1 million pounds of trash was collected and more than half of that was plastic.
The Center for Marine Conservation (CMC) has listed their 'dirty dozen' in other words the twelve items most frequently found from the cleanups.
1) cigarette butts
2) paper pieces
3) plastic pieces
5) glass pieces
6) plastic bags
7) plastic caps and lids
metal beverage cans 9) plastic straws
10) glass beverage bottles
11) plastic beverage bottles
12) styrofoam cups
What we can do to help with this immense problem in our everyday lives.
- Begin by looking for alternative materials or avoid excessive packaging when deciding on purchases. Use paper bags, milk and juice in cardboard, and cloth diapers. Insist on paper bags (or bring your own bag) and glass bottles instead of single use plastic bags or bottles when shopping.
- Recycling. Many communities currently offer pick-up recycling programs for #1 and #2 plastics. Other forms of plastic may be accepted by a local recycling business. Help start a recycling program if your community doesn't have one by contacting your city or town hall to request one.
- Educate others about the problem of marine debris, therefore encouraging "voluntary compliance through awareness."
- Get involved by participating in a coastal cleanup if you live in a coastal area.