Save the shores! (and their water)

“We’re all living in the same bathtub.” ~ Chris Pallister, Gulf of Alaska Keeper

For many of us, summertime means a trip to the river, lake, or ocean shore. Once you are there, you might fish, wade, swim, swim, surf, or ski. After the sun goes down, you might enjoy a dinner of seafood or freshwater fish.

Chances are, you aren’t thinking much about plastic trash in the water, but maybe you should be. About 80% of the plastic waste floating in our waterways, lakes, and oceans originates on land. And once it is in the water, much of it stays there, breaking up into ever smaller pieces. Unfortunately, those “microplastics,” along with chemicals used to make them or those that have clung to them in the water, become part of our food chain. And did you know plastic water bottles have been seen on the ocean floor at a depth of 5,249 feet, which is nearly a mile below the surface?

Next time you are enjoying the water and shore, follow these tips to reduce plastic waste in our waterways:
• Avoid plastic bags. Instead, carry food, toys, and other supplies in sturdy reusable bags that won’t easily tear or blow away.
• Keep track of your stuff. Place lightweight items under heavier items or inside your bag to keep them from blowing into the water or being pulled into the water by waves.
• Choose heavy-duty coolers that will not easily break or tumble away in the wind.
• Pack your picnic in washable, reusable containers.
• Fill and carry reusable water bottles, rather than using single-use plastic bottles. Or put reusable cups into your bag and take a water cooler jug along.
• Place caps back on recyclable plastic bottles and put empty bottles and cans back into your cooler so you can recycle them later.
• Skip the plastic straw on carry-out drinks.
• Put empty chip bags, candy wrappers, and similar lightweight items into a secure trash container as soon as you finish the food.
• Take along fewer toys so they are easy to collect at the end of the day. Try to avoid toys that can easily float away.
• Pick up the area at the end of the day, and take home everything you brought with you.

To learn more about plastic waste in our waterways, visit the EPA’s Trash Free Waters site or the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas.

Photo Credit: yulkapopkova | E+ | Getty Images

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