Handout 6-A

Plastic Can Pollute

Trash on the beach is ugly to us, but it can be deadly to sea animals. Did you know that over 14 billion pounds of trash is dumped into the ocean every year? A large percentage of this trash is plastic. Young seals and sea gulls sometimes strangle on plastic 6-pack yokes, the kind that hold 6 cans of soda together. These rings get caught around their necks and slowly strangle the animals as they grow. Plastic bags and balloons are eaten by sea turtles, fish, and other marine animals which mistake the plastic for jellyfish.

What Can You Do To Help?

1. Take a bag to the beach. Bring a bag to pick up garbage that others leave behind. You may be surprised at what you find. Much of it will be empty cans and plastic food wrappers, but you may also find plastic fishing nets, buoys, lines, and even old rubber boots lost from fishing boats.

2. Use biodegradable plastic bags. Most plastic bags take a very long time to break down, or rot. But some bags, like those used by Shaw's and Shop 'n Save Supermarkets, break down in three to five years. They feel slightly soapy; they're made with cornstarch. Ask for them when your family goes shopping.

3. Teach one other person something about the ocean. It may be a friend, a parent or a grandparent. We all tend to take better care of what we understand and appreciate. You can make a difference!



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