When we litter or leave trash on the ground, it washes and blows into the ocean. It’s important to keep our beaches clean because if trash goes into our ocean, animals could get hurt by trying to eat the trash. Most animals cannot tell the difference between trash and food. How would you like to be boogie boarding, surfing, or swimming through trash? Yuck!
All trash is harmful to animals but some of the most dangerous forms of trash are plastic soda can rings, plastic bags, aluminum cans, and even gum. Each year over 100,000 animals are affected by plastic in the ocean. Plastic soda can rings can easily trap animals such as turtles. One way we can help get rid of this problem is by cutting the plastic hoops so that animals can no longer get stuck in them.
You might be wondering how gum is harming animals. Since gum is sticky, it can trap animals if they walk into it. In addition, if they eat it, their bodies may not be able to digest it properly.
Plastic bags severely affect our environment on my many levels. First, if they aren’t recycled properly, they will decompose into our soil or go into our ocean. Next, even if they break down into smaller pieces in the soil, animals are still capable of eating these pieces, choking, and unfortunately, passing away. This is not fair to our environment! Here’s a somewhat terrifying fact and thought:
- “Fish in the North Pacific ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, which can cause intestinal injury and death and transfers plastic up the food chain to bigger fish and marine mammals. A recent study found that a quarter of fish at markets in California contained plastic in their guts, mostly in the form of plastic microfibers.” (BiologicalDiversity.org).
That means that we could be consuming plastic microfibers when eating fish! Not only are our animals eating plastic and trash, they are being caught, trapped, and tangled in trash throughout the ocean.
The good news is, you can help! And, you can encourage your friends, family, and children to help as well. We can help by picking up our trash and making sure that we don’t leave our food wrappers out when we are done eating. If we see trash on the ground, we should help our environment by picking it up and throwing it into a trash can. We can also help by asking others to throw away their trash. You can ask for paper bags or bring your own reusable bags when grocery shopping. You can get your children involved by teaching them everything you learned here.
To help them get involved, ask your children these questions:
What happens when we litter or leave trash on the ground? Where do you think it ends up going?
Why do you think it’s important to keep our beaches clean?
What types of trash do you think are the most harmful for animals?
How can you help?
What did you learn?
When picking up other people’s trash, remember to be careful of germs. It is recommended that you wear gloves and always thoroughly wash your hands after handling any type of trash.
We’d love to hear what your kids learned and how they think we can keep our environment clean! Their ideas may even be featured here on our blog or on our social media pages!
Written and edited by: Mary Windisch from Mary Taylor Photography