As part of this week’s preparatory meetings for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – known as the Rio+20 Earth Summit – to be held in Rio de Janeiro this summer, we are producing an exciting event at the UN tonight. We’re hosting a panel of leading international experts and U.N. officials on the urgent need to curb plastic pollution, which clutters our oceans and land, on a larger scale. We are calling for countries, businesses, and organizations to take immediate action to end their contribution to this plastic pollution.
Around the world, huge quantities of plastic trash – especially the packaging and to-go ware that we use in everyday life – makes its way into rivers, streams, lakes, and the ocean. For example, a recent study of the San Francisco Bay found that 100,000 trash bags-worth of litter ends up in the Bay every year – up to 80% of that is plastic.
Plastic pollution has serious consequences for the marine environment, for local economies, and potentially for human health. Many whales, seals, turtles, birds and fish are killed by eating or becoming entangled in plastic trash. Marine litter has a major cost to local coastal economies that must deal with cleaning it off of beaches and out of storm drains so that it doesn’t harm the tourism industry, or cause flooding. Plastic in the ocean doesn’t biodegrade, but it does break down into tiny particles that absorb toxins, such as persistant organic pollutants. We have documented that fish eat these toxin-soaked pellets. What is currently being studied, is whether the harmful pollutants are making their way from the pellets, into the fish tissue, where it may be eaten by humans or other predators.
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I would like to add that alot of times it seems like the public tends to focus on the specific problems with plastic water bottles when in actuality, it's all the disposable plastics at large. ~Kim