The world is in love with plastic. And why not? Plastic makes our life so much more convenient. We use it everywhere from single-use cups to packaging. However, when you consider it takes about 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose, we have to ask the question: Should something we use for a few minutes and then throw away, be allowed to pollute oceans, rivers and forests and affect wildlife for generations?
The effect of plastic waste on forests and wildlife is devastating.
Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic, polluting the environment. Researchers in Germany recently warned that the effects of microplastics on soils and freshwater streams have long-term negative impacts on ecosystems and wildlife.
These plastic particles reach our environment in a variety of ways. One main method being improper sewage disposal. Plastic particles get stuck in the sludge and make their way to streams as well as soils. Earthworms have been known to make different burrows when microplastics are present in the soil. Deteriorating both the earthworm’s health and soil conditions. This can further damage the rest of the environment by reducing the growth of forest flora, dependent on earthworms.
High concentrations of microplastics in food chains are another way that plastic affects wildlife. The concentrated microplastics release additives like Bisphenol A (BPA), which disrupts the hormone system. Plastics are also responsible for releasing different chemicals such as artificial dyes into the soil and water systems, polluting them even further.
The really sad thing about this is that animals eating the plastic think that it’s food
Hungry animals usually smell food in plastic containers and bags. But their curiosity can lead them into trouble, often getting their heads, feet or wings trapped in the plastic. This can lead the animal to overheat, suffocate, dehydrate or even starve to death.
If the animal manages to eat the plastic it may also suffer from intestinal blockage, which can become fatal. The really sad thing about this is that animals eating the plastic think that it’s food. Imagine you ate lunch and then just felt weak and hungry all day. That would be very confusing, not to mention dangerous.
This phenomenon is especially dangerous because of how widespread it is. People often dispose of plastic near or even in patches of wildland, which means that the probability of wild animals encountering plastic increases exponentially. Placing wildlife in imminent danger of either being trapped in plastic or consuming the toxic material.
Our job as informed citizens of this planet is to do our bit to ensure the safety of rapidly declining and highly endangered flora and fauna. It’s not too late to make a difference. The overall reduction in consumption and the reuse of plastic will result in less plastic circulating through trash piles that can reach the soil and forests. Responsible recycling can offset your plastic footprint on the planet, which, once again, reduces the probability of plastic waste reaching forests and the soil. Further, we must work to restore forests and protect forest lands from the harmful effects of plastic.
With this initiative, we are planting and protecting new trees together with our friends at American Forests. With every item purchased on our store, a tree is planted in your name. Helping rebuild forestlands and habitats, creating a huge difference in the lives of local wildlife.
For a great way to make a difference and to share your passion for nature with others, please click here.