Plastic’s Impact on Wildlife

Plastic’s Impact on Wildlife

The fight to fend off plastic’s intrusion in our world isn’t just a line item of a political agenda or an effort of professional conservationists. It’s being picked up by people on both sides of political aisles, regardless of how they agree or disagree on myriad of other issues. It’s impacting every corner of our planet and has implications for all of us, and so the fight is one to take seriously. 

Plastic of all sizes is having an impact on wildlife. It’s replacing food for them but never digesting. It’s impacting and disrupting an otherwise resilient ecosystem. From tiny beads of plastic and nearly-invisible strands of synthetic fibers floating down river to plastic bags and strands of knotted fishing lines lodged in the digestive tracts of sea life.

The practical implications to wildlife is something few people truly understand.  

The Fishing Gear Death Toll

World Animal Protection released a report in 2014 — an eternity ago as far as plastic production and pollution are concerned — stating that at least 136,000 seals, sea lions, and whales, as well as “inestimable” number of birds, sea turtles, and other animals, die each year from fishing nets that are discarded. These discarded nets (called ghost-gear) entangle themselves on the ocean floor and float aimlessly and mercilessly through the water. 

The Microplastic Impact

When microscopic particles of plastic (less than 5 mm in size) make their way from your home and into your wastewater, they eventually end up back in streams, rivers, and lakes. They end up in the ocean and in our bottled water and favorite beer. They are in the Great Lakes and in rivers that flow from mountain tops. They are 7 miles under the surface of the ocean and they are in the most remote parts of our planet. And these microplastics are being consumed by the smallest members of the food chain — and subsequently then being consumed all the way up until they’re on our dinner plates.

By far, some of the most exhaustive work we’ve done to research the impacts and implications of plastic on our ecosystem pales in comparison to the work being done by others. For a lengthy read that unpacks some of what was discussed here and yet goes deep into detail with both selective stories of plastic’s deadly impact on specific sea creatures, check out this article from the National Wildlife Federation.Some of the content from this post was pulled directly from their research and writing.