More and more plastic is finding its way into the coastal and ocean waters of this country. Millions of pounds of plastics end up in the nation's waterways, affecting wildlife and the environment. What's happening with plastics and what can people do? Here's a short marine plastics guide.
Why Are Plastics So Dangerous?
Because people use plastics every day, it's not always easy for them to fathom the reasons why plastics are dangerous to marine ecosystems. For starters, plastic isn't a natural material. That means it won't break down naturally when left alone. Therefore, plastics are always there to be dealt with.
Plastic can retain chemicals, which prove dangerous for many wildlife creatures. Toxic chemicals attached to plastic vials or small items can be ingested by birds or other animals, and those chemicals often represent a real risk to their lives. In some cases, the animals die. Even if chemicals aren't an issue, the sheer size and weight of plastics can be harmful. Many small animals get stuck inside plastic beer can holders, for instance.
How Are Marine and Coastal Plastics Collected?
Many groups work on collecting the plastics that are left in the water. By using boats and acting on reports from military personnel, boat captains, and others, they are able to bring plastics onboard their own vessels with nets and other supplies.
The plastics that are recovered are not always in perfect condition to be transformed into something else. Usually, they will need to go through a sorting process. Next, the pieces must be cleaned; if algae or other matter is attached to them, it must be removed. The plastics are then melted down and used for different purposes.
What Can Be Made With Marine and Coastal Recovered Plastic Material?
People are continuously finding new uses for recovered plastics. Traditional plastic uses like bottles can be crafted from this material. In addition, more unusual uses like sunglasses and even sneakers can be constructed with these recycled materials.
What Can You Do About Plastics in Marine Ecosystems?
Perhaps a smart thing for you to do when wanting to help is to look in your own home. Ensure you're recycling plastics before they hit the water. In addition, you can lower your usage of plastic products to begin with. Instead of using plastic drinking straws, for example, use reusable steel ones.
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